Running your small business globally sounds like a big undertaking. But small businesses can also take advantage of selling in international markets. This type of expansion can help you grow your profits, build sustainable operations, and increase your brand awareness around the world. To do this, you have to consider what goes into international marketing.
Expanding internationally is not the right thing for every company. It's important to carefully weigh the pros and cons before getting started. Then you need to know the steps to take before going into any trade relationship management and overseas marketing effort. If you think going global is right for your small business, finding the right tools and guidance is a must. This can help you maximize your international marketing and multinational strategy.
If you would like to learn how to do your business globally, here are some additional tips to help you make the leap into international markets.
There are many reasons to expand your business into global markets. It can bring your product to new types of customers. It can lead to a sense of achievement. You may be forced to learn new cultures and global consumers. However, the main reason for most businesses is that global expansion can result in significant increases in profitability.
Before developing an international trading strategy, you should consider your goals for this expansion. If the above benefits aren't relevant to your business, global marketing may not be for you. However, if you are interested in growing internationally, having a clear goal can help you stay focused throughout the initiative.
Unfortunately, the desire to increase profits is not enough to be successful in an international market. Your business must also be ready to grow this way. If you are successful in your current business and have a solid domestic marketing plan, you are better equipped to expand. If you are already stressed about getting your products and services to customers in the US, you should work on improving these processes before you consider bringing them to an overseas market.
Laurel Delaney, founder of GlobeTrade, explains in an interview with Small Business Trends: “You have to be able to serve the needs of your customers domestically. If you don't have all the ducks in a row with your products or services when exporting, then it is very unlikely that you will be successful. "
When it comes to international trade, it makes most financial sense to ship large quantities of goods together. Fulfilling small ecommerce orders internationally can be fine for small retailers. However, if you want to get into a new overseas market on a large scale, you should have the bandwidth to fill large orders. If you can't do this when selling in your home market, work on it first before you expand.
Before you decide to expand, your company should be able to produce large quantities of items relatively quickly and easily. You also need to be able to efficiently manage order fulfillment yourself or through outsourcing.
If you are doing your business globally, you don't have to go straight into a completely global market. According to Delaney, it makes more sense for most small businesses to choose one country or an international market first. Then you can eventually grow from there.
That way, you can really support your processes and make sure you can handle the extra workload before you continue expanding. In addition, international marketing can vary greatly from country to country. By deliberately expanding one country at a time, you can make marketing decisions aimed at customers in a particular country.
To select your first international market, research which countries have a strong interest in your product or offer. Check out other companies in your niche and see which markets have strong interest without being oversaturated.
For example, you might find a country that has a general interest in American products, but does not have much of your specific offer. You can then create a marketing strategy that focuses on getting interest in US goods. And you can position your items against others in their market to really make them stand out.
Trade shows can be a great resource for learning about global markets and meeting people who can help you expand. They allow you to talk to your target market, network with international marketers, and even consider joint ventures with other small businesses.
Marc Schulman used this technique to bring his company, Elis Cheesecake Company, to global markets. In an interview with Small Business Trends, he says, "If you are in the early stages of running a business, you can take a walk at the show and just talk to people and learn. And once you have grown you can be and have an exhibitor the opportunity to meet people like agents and importers who can help you get your products into these markets. ”
As with most types of research, searching online can be an easy first step in finding new international markets for your products. Even a simple Google search can lead you to information about your particular product's export and point you in the right direction for industry resources.
Start by examining the international trade rules for the foreign country or market you plan to expand into. You can also delve into specific international marketing strategies and conduct market research on customers in the countries you plan to expand into.
There are also several agencies and organizations that offer specific services to help small businesses export. Delaney suggests examining the resources of the Small Business Administration and various urban and state groups. But she also says the US Department of Commerce's Gold Key Service can be of great help. The paid service helps connect business owners with overseas agents and dealers in their respective industries.
These resources will provide you with access to expertise and meetings with stakeholders in the international markets you plan to enter. Instead of wondering where to start, you can work with people who understand the market immediately. This also gives you a better chance of finding the right marketers that international clients will appreciate.
Contacting your agents and dealers is an important step in this process. However, Schulman cautions against only going with the first people you meet before figuring out what they can bring to your business. Since Eli's products are perishable, he had to find out if each retailer had the right freezers, trucks, and other equipment to keep their products at the highest level.
Before you proceed with your international expansion, you should know exactly what you need for the delivery of your goods and services. Make a list of the features and services your partners need to work efficiently. If you need to schedule multiple meetings with distributors and international marketing agencies, do so. It's better to take your time than to meet with partners who don't really fit.
Not surprisingly, you have to travel to this country frequently to export goods and services to a new international market. It may be necessary to travel there to meet dealers or potential customers. However, it can also be beneficial to travel there for trade shows and similar events. Find events and organize meetings in your new market of your choice.
You can even set up multiple trips to get a feel for your new customer base. This can ultimately benefit your international marketing strategy. You can even work with an international marketer to create a bespoke message that you can use to promote your goods and services in a new market.
Too much traveling back and forth, however, can strain your schedule and budget. While you should always be ready to travel when an agent or distributor needs them, try to schedule discussions through Skype or similar online tools whenever possible.
Ideally, you travel early in the process to meet with stakeholders or international marketing agencies. However, once you've selected the partners who are right for your business and made those initial connections, take your interactions online.
Whether your primarily dealing with agents and dealers personally or using technology, it is imperative that you develop close relationships with them. If they want to represent your company in any way in your new market, they need to understand what you want them to do and vice versa.
For example, your global marketing agency should have a firm grasp of the marketing principles required to promote your goods and services in a foreign market. As you create or edit your business website through to creating targeted ads, be aware of how they perform various marketing activities. Keep the lines of communication open. If they are unresponsive or open to communicating new ideas, they may not be the best fit for your company.
As with any other business transaction, it is important that you have an established contract and guidelines for the flow of payments and order fulfillment. Make sure you get paid for all the products you export, especially since legal action in a foreign market can be complicated, if not impossible.
Indeed, you can benefit from working with a legal expert who will focus on contracts in the country you plan to travel to. Since every market has different rules and regulations, finding someone to take care of the fine print can save you time and avoid problems.
Each country that you might consider expanding has its own set of rules and qualifications. That often means that you have to do a lot of paperwork to do business in various other countries. From entering into joint ventures with other companies to finding the right international marketing partners, you need tons of contracts and agreements.
Keep this in mind when planning your expansion and international marketing strategy. Take your time or bring in experts who can help sort through the details.
Once you have officially started selling your goods and services in an international market, it can be tempting to immediately expand again. Just as you should achieve relative success in a domestic market before going international, you should also achieve some success in your new market before proceeding. Wait until your processes are solid, your international marketing activities are running smoothly and you have a significant market share in your current markets. Then you can invest enough time and effort to enter a new international market.
Delaney says, "I always say it is better to diversify later after you've achieved reasonable success. If you are stable in your current markets, your entire global strategy will not fall apart if one thing goes wrong."
"Your existing contacts may put you in contact with people in nearby markets for joint ventures or international marketing partnerships. The processes for exporting goods and services are also likely to be similar.
Start researching nearby countries and then ask your existing contacts for references. They may be able to put you in contact with other dealers, partners or international marketing agencies. Some of them may even offer goods or services for these additional markets. You can use your existing relationships to expand to another foreign country.
When doing business in other countries, you need to take into account the different customs and cultural aspects that can affect transactions. You can do your own research on the culture of your new market. However, you can also rest assured that your agents or dealers are leading you in the right direction once you have built solid relationships with them.
The cultural differences between your domestic market and a new international market may seem small. However, they can have an impact on all of your marketing decisions, from optimizing your company website to creating international advertising campaigns.
Growing your customer base can also affect your marketing activities. In particular, international marketing often means creating new messages for each individual market. You can create a new website and social media accounts for your customers in a new country. You can also easily include messages relevant to them in your current marketing channels.
If you only focus on domestic marketing, all of your messages will be tailored to customers in your home country. So as you expand, your marketing mix needs to become more diverse. This may require hiring an international marketing department or management team in your new market. Or, you could work with a management consultant who specializes in your new market to lead your existing marketing team.
One of the benefits of selling in international markets is that your products will be sold all over the world. Once you have expanded into these markets, it is important to enjoy that success. This is not only important on a personal level. It can also help you ponder the international marketing principles and strategies that you have used to build a successful global operation.
Schulman says: “We are very proud of our international business. When I see the name and logo of Eli's Cheesecake in leading restaurants in England, I get a sense of achievement. "
International marketing means creating marketing messages that are applicable in more than one country. This generally means diversifying the content of your domestic marketing materials to make it more relevant to people across cultures and markets.
When you think of international marketing, your brain may go straight to big companies like Coca-Cola or General Motors. But even small companies can be successful in international marketing. For example, a small textile company can first examine markets in which its goods are in demand. You might choose to work with dealers in South America first. Your international marketing efforts would therefore focus on dealers in these countries. You can even create a new website or page to share relevant information and facilitate discussions with relevant stakeholders. Then they can provide these merchants with materials aimed at consumers in their area.
International marketing can be incredibly rewarding. However, it also brings a fair share of challenges, especially for small businesses with limited budgets and market shares. Here are some of the challenges you must face if your international marketing efforts are to be successful:
Overcoming these obstacles requires a lot of research and expertise. You can do some preliminary exploration yourself. However, you may need to invest directly in international marketing managers or experts in your specific market.
International marketing is right for companies that are already solid in their home market and want to grow globally. However, it may not be a good idea for those struggling to manage their domestic operations. It can also be difficult for those who have products that are only relevant to a specific customer base. Here are a few things to consider before jumping into international marketing.
Creating an international marketing plan begins with researching your new market. Take into account customer needs and purchasing habits in the country of your choice. This should include market trends in your industry to give you an idea of how and why consumers are buying similar goods.
From there you need to create international marketing messages that positively position your offerings against the competition. This is similar to positioning your brand when marketing to domestic customers. However, the preferences of those in your new market may vary. For example, if you typically use low prices as a differentiator in the US, it may not be as relevant for consumers in another country. Depending on your market, you may want to promote the quality and craftsmanship of your US-made products. Goods or how the style of your items differs from what is currently available in another country.
After all, in every country you travel to, you need to find channels that are relevant to your target customers. Online marketing is very popular in most of the countries. However, some countries may not rely as much on the social media websites and search engines that are widely used in the US. In some countries, consumers may also be more attentive to traditional advertisements or media. See where your target customers are spending time before investing your international marketing budget in the same old platforms.
There are innumerable ways in which you can structure your expansion into foreign markets. Some small businesses may simply sell their goods online. Product companies can find international distributors and ship their goods overseas to online buyers. Service companies can offer a virtual service in formats such as video consultations or online courses.
Alternatively, you can work with other companies or stakeholders in your new area to deliver your offerings without doing much additional work. For example, you could offer franchise opportunities to overseas business owners. You could license your goods or services. You could also sell to dealers who then sell your items on a larger scale.
This answer is different for every small business. Start by researching multiple markets where your goods or services are needed and talking to the stakeholders in those markets. When making your decision, consider the following questions:
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