Customise your plan to suit your market
Once you’ve researched your market and identified the areas you are looking to target, the next critical element to your export planning is building your sales & marketing export strategy.
For all export sales and promotion, the basic principles of effective marketing will still apply, but your plans need to be customised to suit your target markets. You will need to take into consideration elements such as cultural factors, specific traditions, country-specific legislation and the marketing channels available. As well as considering your available resources and the capital required to support this venture, a key task will also be to establish the best way to sell overseas, be it online or directly at local level.
- Focus on how business is actually done in your company's sector? e.g. if sales are actually completed at trade fairs, it is important that your company and sales managers are represented.
- Use Business Information to help you find the right distributor or agent. e.g. target specific product distributors or service providers that are locally based in that country.
- Focus on your company’s strengths that will give you the edge over the competition and help to overcome any lack in international experience.
- Consider as a priority the online Digital Marketing of your products or services, within a globally focused marketplace – there is little point in having an amazing product or service to offer, if no-one can find it or even knows about it!
- Make sure you identify whether there are any cultural, geographical or legislative factors that might affect your sales and marketing channels?
These are some of the key reasons why a focused export marketing plan will be pivotal to the success of your export activity. Customers in your new market need a reason to choose your product or service over a local competitor and failing to meet their needs will reduce your export success. So the more time and effort that is applied at the planning stage will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long run.
Planning your promotional message
Managing Cultural Differences – Due to potentially different cultural and language factors, it is important to plan your promotional materials. Cultural differences may affect the way the local population view your product.
It's important to establish exactly what motivates people to buy your product or service. Issues such as the product's name, colour and packaging should be carefully considered. For example, when a product's name is translated into the native language, it may have more than one meaning.
The Benefits of Translation – On the topic of translation, it’s obvious that you need to talk to people in their own language – but it's likely that all of your marketing resources are in English? Don’t panic, where possible you can simply translate your marketing resources into the relevant language(s) as an initial starting point.
Of course we all have access to Google Translate, but consider the benefits of using translation services, which are readily available. These professional services exist to take your company website and translate relevant pages for your exporting market. Likewise, your sales collateral where applicable can be translated and re-printed, saving you re-design cost. Don’t forget to include critical legal documents such as terms and conditions, product manuals etc.
Experienced translators will need to understand your business’s tone of voice, language style and messages. So it’s vital that they find exactly the right words to convey your products and services – we all know how important trust and confidence is for the customer.
Sales leads – An important feature of a successful export strategy, is planning who to send your promotional messages. Having access to a comprehensive database of sales leads, will ensure your product is promoted to businesses or consumers with a potential keen interest. A comprehensive source of sales leads is available from Kompass, who provide a targeted data list service & access to a global B2B database online, with international data available for over 33m companies in 70 countries.
Building a global online presence
Your business needs to present itself as both customer-focused and internationally capable. The first touchpoint for potential overseas customers is likely to be your website, so translating your website into additional languages may be one of the best marketing decisions you make.
This will also help to improve its visibility on foreign search engines. Before employing the services of a professional translator, ensure your website is exactly as you’d like it, with perfect product and company information, structure and content. At the very least building landing pages suitable for your key target market makes sense. Start modestly perhaps with translations into just one language and try to test the translations on some potential customers to gain their feedback.
How Easy is to Find your Company? – Once your site is translated and ready to go, you need to consider how it can be found in the country you are targeting – which means focusing on your online search visibility. It’s important to consider whether your existing domain is suitable for your export market as a first step. Some domains just don’t translate well so check it out before making a decision.
With more than 4m searches performed online every minute, the effective control and display of company information is a strategic issue for all companies. Kompass, the global B2B online directory attracts 7.5m users every month so is the ideal resource to help build your company profile globally. With translations available in 26 languages, your optimised profile can be found by potential new customers searching for your products or services – click here to find out more.
Focused Social Media Campaigns – Other online factors to consider are your social media presence – do you need language specific pages, your Ad words campaigns – perhaps a geographic/location specific campaign may be useful? Work through all of these considerations to ensure your site is easily found in your target market.
Consider Visiting your Export Market – Experiencing your target market first hand is a key to understanding the requirements for your international marketing plan. Your trips should give you valuable direct experience of the marketplace and the chance to start building up important contacts.
Scan the market for potential trade events in your target country – trade fairs, exhibitions and networking events will help your depth of knowledge, alongside meeting potential customers, making sales appointments and sourcing new distributors if required.
Virtual Events – The Covid19 pandemic lockdown has resulted in the cancellation of many trade fairs, conventions and events. As a result many events are being run virtually - to find out more about virtual events, take a look at our free downloadable ebook - The Essential Guide to Virtual Events.
Focus on your customer service
Cultural differences – If your company understand and aheres to local business practices, customers will feel confident when conducting business with you. For example, punctuality for appointments is essential in most countries of Northern Europe and the Far East, but a more relaxed approach to time-keeping is taken in Southern Europe. Open-necked shirts and short sleeved blouses may be acceptable in some countries, but might convey a sloppy approach to business in others.
- Social propriety
- Religious beliefs
- Business etiquette
- Conventions with regard to dressing, greetng people or attending meetings
- General country information
After sales service and customer care – Once a sale is made your promotional effort does not stop. Customers who are distant from your base may feel a greater need for reassurance that they have made the right choice of supplier. Prior to exporting, it is important to be clear about the level of practical and technical after-sales support your business and agent can provide; it is also essential to understand the level of service required by the customer.
Once customers have been established it is critical to keep in touch to verify that they are satisfied with the level of service.
Get Help & Advice from the Experts!
Guidance as well as online information about exporting is widespread, so it is vital that you make the most of the knowledge that is available from experts. This will be especially important in the light of Brexit and the impact this will have on both European and global trading markets for UK exporters.
– Use Kompass Business Data to research and find contacts in your target markets.
– Your Local Chamber of Commerce can help with export documentation and finance.
– UK Export Finance provides trade finance and insurance for exporting.
– B2BCentral works with partners to bring the benefits of B2B eCommerce to British SMEs.
– The Institute of Export gives advice, guidance, offers courses and qualifications.
– Build your brand & global online presence with Kompass Digital Marketing solutions.
At Kompass we have more than 60 years experience, helping businesses grow – providing our customers with business data to help improve the results of their sales and marketing activity and driving relevant enquiries through globally optimised company profiles from more than 7.5M Kompass users. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you as you plan your export strategy.
Our Kompass Export Zone builds on our business information expertise, by giving access to straightforward guidance on some of the key factors to consider when exporting, research advice and country specific market information. For more advice on getting started on your export journey, see our 10 Top Tips for Exporting Success
Disclaimer: Please note that this blog only contains general information and insights about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Kompass.com