Many domestic companies are expanding overseas in order to capitalize on the immense growth opportunities that lie in international markets. You too should start marketing your products to international clients in order to grow your sales and profitability, secure long-term success, and diversify your revenue streams. After all, if there is one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it is to always have alternative markets to turn to in case one market becomes too hostile for business.
The internet has eliminated most barriers of global market entry, but that doesn’t mean your job will be easy. Exploiting new business leads has never been straightforward, especially not when you have to deal with customers who probably don’t speak your language, whose shopping culture and purchasing power sharply contrasts the culture you are used to back home, and customers who probably know nothing about your brand or company reputation. That is why international marketing seems daunting and overwhelming to many entrepreneurs.
The good news? These 4 tips will boost your chances of international marketing success:
- Choose markets where your price is competitive
Before choosing which international market to expand to, it is best that you first determine if there is a need in the target market that your products or services can solve. Follow that up with the question: will the pricing for your products and services be competitive in the market? Note that you will always find new competitors in every market you venture into, so your products and services must be better and their pricing must be reasonably fair relative to the existing competition if you are to succeed. So, if the overhead costs, cost of raw materials, import and export fees, legal fees and taxes, and marketing costs in the target market are too high for your business to be profitable, maybe you should take your business someplace else. Your global marketing plan has to be sustainable for it to bring you any form of success.
- Work with locals
Don’t do it alone because, let’s face it: You can only understand so much about a market if you are a non-local. Get local partners, social influencers, suppliers, and distributors to help you reach local customers both online and offline. Liaise with local advertising media channels, localize your social media content, and conduct consultations with local experts pulled from different business-related fields on how best to appeal to the local audience. Most importantly, ensure that you hire local talents for several management positions in your company, and ensure that at least half of the personnel manning the customer service and sales departments are locals. Local customers will feel more at home if they find their own people working in your stores.
When trying to move closer to your client base without having to build or lease an office building, you can always rent space in a coworking space in Boston. Coworking spaces are strategically located around Boston, or whichever city your clients live, so you don’t have to worry about accessibility. Besides, such spaces are fully equipped with office furniture and technology, so your overseas employees will be as comfortable as they would be in a permanent traditional office. Most importantly, coworking spaces give you all the flexibility you need to experiment in a market and relocate any time you deem fit without worrying about selling your commercial property or terminating lease agreements.
- Don’t translate. Localize
You need to translate your website content, social media messages, and all your campaign material in order to appeal to local customers in a language they understand and relate with. However, translation is never enough. Knowing the culture and local nuances, and respecting them in your marketing campaigns, is crucial to success. Take part in local community development programs, respect local religion and governance, and post visual content that captures the things that local communities value the most.
- Secure enough capital beforehand
International marketing can be more demanding financially compared with domestic marketing. Finding investors in a foreign land or convincing financial partners back home to jump onto your expansion bandwagon is even more demanding. Before taking a business overseas, therefore, have your capital needs sorted beforehand. That is unless you have the financial muscle to finance the expansion, and even that would be very risky. Remember to tap into government and private sources of financing in order to grow your kitty and stand a better chance of succeeding abroad.
The success or failure of your international marketing campaign will be dependent on how strong your global strategy is. Take your time to research, consult, and understand the business culture in your target market before drafting your global strategy, otherwise you will find it rough overseas.