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.
- Export marketing plan. Before you start anything, have a plan in writing. This captures what you plan to market, how, when, budgets and milestones. This should be a working reference that allows you to keep track of all your marketing plans, giving you structure and control.
- Research, research, research. Before diving into any market, do your research. It's vital you understand the country, the people, their habits, your sector, potential challenges and whether there is potential for ROI.
- Who is your competition? If you plan to sell into another country, make sure you analyse who is already there, what they are doing and how they are doing it. Understand your competition and conduct a SWOT analysis against them to help you distinguish your offering against theirs
- Understanding the culture. The importance of cultural differences cannot be underestimated. Culture impacts people's buying habits, their reaction to different marketing messages, how your product/service might be used and even how your logo is perceived.
- Speaking the language. Translation and localisation of marketing platforms and messages will be a major part of your marketing efforts. Whether it's emails, brochures, social media messages or presentations, understand how you will carry out these translations and check them for quality.
- Marketing channels. Marketing channels abroad differ from country to country. Search engines in one country may be predominant but in others advertising in the local newspaper may get the best results. Look at the marketing channels people use in the target country and ensure you also use it as part of your strategy.
- Are you online? Websites are crucial to being found online as well as being your virtual business card. If you don't have a website, build one, but make sure you build it with your international audience in mind.
- Calls to action. What do you want people to do when they come across your marketing? Should they visit a site? Call a number? Be clear about the next steps you want people to take.
- Are sales inline? There is no point marketing a product or service if your sales function can't deal with the demand. If you are driving people to a website, is it in their language? Can it take foreign payment methods? If you are driving people to call a number or email you, do you have the ability to actually communicate with them?
- Try first. Before diving into anything internationally, experiment first. Try out your ideas small scale. For instance, you could start with a mini translated version of your website rather than the whole thing, or launch one product rather than the whole range.
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.
Popular content on exporting:
Find more articles, videos and tools on exporting in the Resources box.