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.
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.