All businesses, whether big or small, dream of going global at some stage of their Lifecycle. New markets, especially the emerging ones, represent an excellent opportunity for businesses to grow internationally and expand the scope of their offerings.
However, entering the international marketplace is easier said than done, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the resources that large corporations do. That doesn’t mean you squash your dreams of going global and limit your growth. All you need are a few strategies to ready your business for the global stage.
But before we get into how to grow and market your small or medium business internationally, let’s discuss why it makes sense for you to go global.
First, it’s all about the money, honey. As cheesy as that sounds, it couldn’t be more true that offering your products and services in the international market can increase your sales and revenue manifold.
Second, it makes sense in these uncertain economic times to diversify your market. Even during the worst phase of the recession in the U.S., there were some international markets that registered robust growth. Diversifying and widening your market base will add a much-needed layer of protection over your business.
Third, going global will help you stay on your toes as a business. There’s no room for complacency when you’re competing in the global arena. You’ll have to constantly improvise and innovate to stay competitive in a global marketplace.
Marketing your Business Globally
1. Understand Your Business: Before you go around looking for appropriate markets to grow your company, it may make sense to understand your own business and industry. You need to determine if the products and services you offer are actually fit for an international market. Whatever said and done, there are some things that are so niche to a culture that they don’t sell outside of it. There’s no point going into an international market with a product/service like that.
2. Choose Your Market: Once you’ve determined that your offerings have an international appeal, it’s time to start choosing your target market. At this stage, it may make sense to introduce your products or services to a few test markets rather than make a worldwide debut. You may need to do a deep analysis of the demand for your products/services in your target markets. You should also weigh in the pros and cons of doing business in that market, study any existing competition, and take into account your ability to successfully penetrate it. Essentially, your marketing efforts should be able to strike a chord with the local audience.
3. Know Your Audience: There’s no way you’ll be able to sell to an international market without understanding it and tweaking your offerings accordingly. You need to not only be aware, but also embrace the local language, culture, business practices, etc. and build your business plan and marketing strategies around them. Think global, act local (glocal, if you please) and you’ll be able effortlessly win over your audience.
4. Understand Business Regulations: Doing business internationally is a different ball game altogether. You need to be well aware of not just the business practices governing your chosen market, but also do your research about advertising and sales regulations, tax statutes, labor laws, etc. You want to make sure you’re always on the right side of the local laws while developing your business plan and marketing strategies.
5. Customize Online Marketing Strategy: In a world where international barriers hold no meaning aka the cyber world, there’s just no getting around a strong online marketing plan if you want to grow your business globally. But you cannot have a one-size-fits-all online marketing strategy. You need to localize your content, maybe even make it available in the native language, and use appropriate keywords as well as target the preferred search engines of your chosen market to drive your SEO efforts.
These measures will put you on the right path so far as going global is concerned. But before you go global, make sure your tracks are covered by investing in a business owners’ insurance policy. You may want to find out local insurers who offer policies on the same lines as some of the American carriers like The Hartford (Thehartford.com). Hope for the best, prepare for the worst is the mantra and insurance will help you do just that!
Author Bio: Elvis Donnelly, a father of two who works from home and lives with his wife. He is a voracious reader and likes to keep abreast of current affairs on personal finance, technology and innovation, and takes a keen interest in environmental issues. In his spare time, he loves taking on home improvement projects and considers himself a closet chef.