One of the most common methods to grow a business is to look beyond the national borders. Although global marketing employs the classic principles and concepts Marketers are familiar with, there are some aspects that a company should consider when considering international expansion.
If your department is in charge of crafting the strategy for expanding the business internationally you might find the task challenging, in particular if the target market is totally different than what you are used to when marketing domestically. I am currently in charge of such an ambitious project, and I would like to share some tips that I found useful.
Global Marketing Should Begin Locally
This might sound confusing but your research should begin with identifying programs run by the local and/or federal government to help exporters succeed internationally. You might be surprised (like I was) at the amount of resources available. These includes free market research reports, grants, country profile information, and a list of contacts that can help you get a better knowledge of that particular market. As an example, Canada even provides exporters with fully equipped meeting rooms abroad that export managers can use to meet potential clients and partners, at no cost. Obviously these resources vary by country, but it’s well worth investigating.
Start at the Macro Level
A particular country might look like the perfect expansion opportunity for a variety of reasons. Before you look at the specific industry you are interested in make sure you have a good understanding of the macroeconomic environment that affects the way you do business. Identifying the opportunities but also the challenges such as corruption, lack of infrastructure, taxation, ever changing legislation, political instability, banking system, currency issue, is a must in getting a solid start to exporting. Other points to consider are the entry costs such as legal services, trademark registration, and bureaucracy. It’s very tempting to just start exporting based on an inquiry received from abroad, however rushing it might cause a lot of headaches later.
Adapt to the Local Culture
The most common mistake exporters make in the global marketing planning is failing to adapt their offer to the local market.This is key to a successful market penetration. No two countries are the same, no matter how similar they look on paper. Many consider Canada and USA as twin countries, that speak the same language and have more or less similar cultural and buying preferences.However, whoever visited the two countries realize how different they are in so many ways. Make sure you get feed backs from locals about business etiquette, buying habits and motivators and the things you should definitely avoid when marketing your product there. It’s good practice to hire local translator for any marketing materials you plan to use to promote your products or services, and employ local sales force whenever possible.
One last tip: I personally like to build a list of best practices based on the feedback and research information I receive from different sources. Once I have a check mark beside each bullet point on the list I can move to the strategic planning phase and establish the objectives, strategies and tactics to be employed.
Do you have global marketing experience? I would love to learn from your insights in the Comments section on the blog.
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