A few months (or years) back, strengthened by successes on your home market, you decided it was time to aim big and consider expanding overseas. You selected a market where demand seemed present, defined export sales targets that seemed pretty realistic to start with, and set up a team that would drive this new sales market.
Since then, your figures are nowhere near the objectives that were set, and you’re starting to doubt that your product is really adapted to foreign markets. Before putting an end the whole adventure, take some time and ask yourself whether your marketing and communication strategy is appropriate. Recipes that work on your local market may be irrelevant in another country. Because unless you’ve created the new Google, nobody is waiting for your arms wide open and you’ll need to implement a real localized marketing strategy to reach success. Here are four export marketing DON’Ts that are sure to make your international venture plummet.
1. Failure to build a corporate image abroad
Being renown on your local market is a great thing. Thinking you can use the exact same corporate image in a foreign country is another. Unless you are Coca-Cola or Nike, you will need to work on implementing your brand in the mind of foreign consumers, before thinking of selling them your products. Did you ask yourself if your logo should be adapted to better fit your market (maybe add a translated baseline)? Did you try to connect with the local press (generalist or specialized) to announce your arrival on the new market? Did you build a sales argument linked to your brand explaining why your product is better than the equivalent local? Or enter the networks of the local Chambers of Commerce to ask for help or introductions?
2. Failure to build a strong online presence
If you’ve done your homework, you’ve probably turned your main website bilingual by translated all the contents into the language of your export market. Good… but not enough. If you want to be found by your customers, you’ll also need to work on the online search visibility of your wesite on this market. Did you consider buying a domain name with and extension specific to the target country? Did you create a dedicated Facebook Page in the language? Could a geographic Adwords campaign be useful? Make sure you are really getting proper online exposure, because there’s no point having a great product if potential overseas customers can’t understand what it says or find it.
3. Failure to consider the specific needs of your overseas customers
If you want foreign customers to buy your products and choose YOU over local brands, you have to provide them with at least the same services as your local competitor does: sales documents translated properly, easy access to ask questions and get answers in their language, simple delivery and return solutions if you are selling goods. The more work you put in towards making overseas customers feeling cared for and welcome will bring dividends.
4. Failure to be curious and interested in the country your are targeting
How many times did you get on a plane and actually visit overseas countries trying to get business for your company? Are you acquainted with the language, the circles of influence, the business trends in your particular market? Do you have an idea of the cultural differences between your country and the export market in the way of doing business that could explain why your figures aren’t doing well? If not you, then someone in your team should be acquainted with the country and its culture in order to avoid cultural misunderstandings.
If you really want your export project to work, you’ve got to do your homework. Target the right countries, show them you care about them and make sure your company has a corporate presence (be it only online) that you can build on. And if you feel overwhelmed, look for an expert of your market to help you. The specialized company My French Communication Agency (www.my-french-communication-agency.com) is an expert in helping foreign companies market their business in France : communication strategy, sales documents, online presence, intercultural training…. Give us a call and we’ll see how we can help.