Passport — check; tickets — check; insurance/meerkat toy — check; business lounge card — check. There comes a time when your business is ready to go international. Your idea is great and it’s going global. Revenues will increase and so will your air miles balance. All sounding good so far…
Let’s face it, anything ecommerce-related potentially has a global market as soon as the web pages are loaded, right? Yes, theoretically, but this blog is for those of a B2B persuasion and if you think merely having a website will result in huge global sales, please read on.
A few years ago I met a trade delegation (a great way to reduce the risk of international expansion) from an Estonian incubator. There were about ten companies and the leader of the incubator and they met with a number of local tech hubs and other useful people, so the entrepreneurs could evaluate if the UK was a place to do business and more importantly if there were people they could trust to do business with.
The problem with expanding into more than one country is cost. As soon as you set up somewhere you are incurring costs before generating revenue. An office, a phone line, a new set of web pages, a sales person and so on... While you might like the idea of global expansion, if you don’t get a firm grip on costs it could kill your company.
You can get stats to show how big a new market is and how much revenue it will generate for your business, but that’s all theory and the reality is you need people on the ground who know how to get things done. The trick is to find the right people for this.
As always, use your network and approach any organisations that help entrepreneurs and businesses to trade abroad. Government bodies such as the UKTI and British Chambers of Commerce are a good place to start. Don’t ignore social media to get things rolling. LinkedIn groups can be a good place to start to get some quick wins. Attending international trade shows can also accelerate international expansion by giving you access to new contacts.
Once you have the people in place, you need to provide them with a lot of support, detailed instructions and listen well to exactly what they can deliver. I have some brilliant “door openers” for US businesses looking to expand into the UK/Europe but the companies have got to trust them and let them work their magic.
The risk here is letting go and trusting someone else with your baby — sorry, business. You can’t be in two places at once and you need other people in the team who can help you build the business.
Must dash as my taxi is here to take me to the airport.
Marc Duke is a marketing consultant.
Export is vital to the future prosperity of UK plc. The chancellor’s target of getting 100,000 more companies exporting and a doubling of our exports to £1trillion by 2020 is a clear indication of how much importance the government is placing on British businesses trading overseas.
But before you leap onto the international stage, what factors do you need to take into consideration when you’re marketing a company, product or service abroad.
The essence of export marketing is in getting under the skin of the people you plan to sell to; really understanding them and then communicating your offering to them in a way that appeals and makes sense. These fundamentals will help you do exactly that.
Now go export!
Neil Payne is the marketing director of Kwintessential.
Exporting events and resources
Following the success of Export Week in May, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will be running regional events from 11-15 November encouraging businesses to increase their export activity, with the ExploreExport road show visiting eight English regions.
In support of the week, we’ve gathered together free resources — including guides, articles, checklists, blogs, tools and case studies, all aimed at businesses that want to sell more to customers overseas.
If you’re involved in websites, SEO, ecommerce or any other element of online business, without doubt you would have heard the drum of internationalisation beating louder and louder over the past few years.
New emerging markets are on the up as internet penetration increases. As a result, businesses are looking abroad for more customers, more sales and more exposure.
Website translation is, without doubt, top of the to do list when targeting a country, region or even the world online. However, many firms are being hoodwinked into believing a website translation is the goal — and yet it can be a complete waste of money.
Having a website translated as part of an international sales or business development drive is not the end game. It is the end game for the translation company and/or website design agency. Their focus, most of the time, is on getting that website into the languages agreed upon. Full stop.
However, businesses need to understand that a website on its own is never going to ramp up sales in China, Brazil or Germany. A website, most of the time, is the first stop on a journey. It educates the reader on what you do or sell with the intention that they then go on to buy.
Some websites have the capacity to sell online but most of the time, simply having your website translated will not be enough. It usually takes a few more steps between the education and the sale. These steps can form a canyon in terms of being able to convert enquiries into sales. This is where the gap exists; and where money is wasted.
Take this example. “Company A” sees the potential to sell their services into Germany. Convinced by the reams of data about online buying behaviour and keyword search volumes, they invest in getting their website translated into German. The brand-spanking-new website is released, complete with an SEO budget and a PPC campaign and then … traffic comes in.
When the company receives its first email in German, it can’t respond. When a potential client from Berlin calls the office, nobody can speak with them. When a business magazine contacts them about a PR piece, they lose interest when realising the company has no German presence. When Analytics illustrates people exiting the website at a certain key pages, what do they do?
All these are real life examples of the poor planning of businesses going into a new country without a) understanding the market and b) having the ability to deal with enquiries in the language.
Website translation is a waste of money if it becomes the end goal. It needs to be part of a clear sales or business development strategy with a plan of action on how to support sales. It needs to take place after careful research as well as organising back office functions to be able to handle requests, place orders or close deals.
In order to ensure your new multilingual website offers ROI, make sure everything around the website is ready to support it and the business. Here are some things to consider:
Through appreciating the limits of your website and understanding how to support it, the chances of success are dramatically increased. The result will be a more holistic approach to your website and the sales cycle.
Neil Payne is the managing director of Kwintessential.
Expanding your business abroad is no mere afterthought despite the ease of reaching people in different languages and markets across the world thanks to the internet.
Rarely is it necessary these days to set up local offices or physical branches on the high street to sell your wares or services. People simply search for your product and buy from you even if your business isn’t based in their country — most customers will trust worldwide shipping to make purchases online.
So how do we take advantage of this phenomenon? How do we reach audiences in the same language but a different country like Australia or the USA? How do we reach audiences in a different language and a different country altogether? How do we avoid embarrassing mistakes to keep our credibility intact when people do eventually find us?
The key issue that most business forget in the rush to maximise the opportunity is not to get lost in translation.
Acting local with content
The first thing you need is web content. Whether you’re an ecommerce site selling your unique brand of clothes or a firm selling professional services or an online product such as a video game — you need copy that is written in the customer’s language.
But before you log onto Google translate, remember that people are not that forgiving of businesses with poorly written copy. So it makes sense to hire a professional writer that has native level language skills in the country of choice — even Australian English for instance.
A professional writer will not only write using the idioms and wordplay, they will also understand the culture of how people buy into what it is you do. This will also help prevent costly branding mistakes such as the time Opel named their car Nova for the Spanish market which means “no-go”.
They will write web copy for your product or service that sounds right and thus will make your business appear more persuasive and trustworthy.
Beyond the website
The professional writer will not only write copy for your website, but equally important, will write unique content for other websites discussing the issues that your business’ products or services resolve.
This not only allows you to reach out to new audiences in France but also helps build your reputation in Google France. This happens in a number of ways:
If the budget stretches, you may wish to consider getting coverage in the target country. This will require a public relations (PR) specialist with the right media contacts in the countries you’re marketing to.
The PR will help you build your profile with the media and create news hooks that will help your press releases get picked up by the press your customers read. These news hooks could be original research or surveys or whitepapers that will help your brand get noticed and stand out from all other local and global competitors vying for your customers’ money.
Although Rome wasn’t built in a day, just imagine what the Romans would have given to have the technology we have to reach millions of people across the world — all powered by search.