Once you’ve assessed your export readiness by conducting a SWOT analysis, and after you’ve researched which market is most viable for your business, you’ll need to come up with a plan of action for entering that market. You need to set yourself clear and achievable steps that establish a presence or foothold in that market.
This plan should be shaped by the research you’ve undertaken into your prospective new markets and look at things such as how you’ll reach customers there, how you’ll get paid, and how you’ll deliver your goods or services in the market.
We cover these three key areas throughout the next three steps of your export journey, but let’s briefly explain why it’s important that you have a clear and actionable plan to help give you structure and clarity, once you’ve decided which market to enter.
Why having a plan matters
Who better to explain this key point than fellow SMEs who’ve already started to succeed internationally as a result of having a clear market entry plan?
Susie Dorman from One & Eight, a porcelain jewellery manufacturer, created a plan using our online planning tool, the Export Action Plan. She told us that completing the tool helped her to put all her research and thoughts together. She said:
The Export Action Plan is a comprehensive tool which has helped us identify the best export markets for our product, how successful we think our product will be in those markets and how we manage things like currency and import rules for those counties.
Susie won one of our export planning competitions, and a fellow previous winner, Sue Burns from BubbleBum (UK) Ltd, also spoke of the importance of completing a coherent and researched export plan:
The action plan process is very valuable, enabling small companies to work through the component parts necessary for successful exporting. Planning is critical to success, and perseverance will always pay off.
Key things to include
The importance of having a clear plan of action when entering a new market is key and no exporter succeeds without one. From analysing your own business and researching which markets to expand into, you’ll already have looked at several of the key aspects of what your market entry plan will include.
The factors by which you have selected your market should now form the basis of your market entry plan. For instance, your business’ language capabilities or access to decent translation services should have formed part of your reasoning for selecting your market. Your market entry plan should now force you to look at these different learnings and assessments, enabling you to then set clear actions with practical timelines and targets to work towards.
For instance, if you’ve chosen to export to China, it should cover the following and more:
- When will I have modified or adjusted my product for the local culture and regulations?
- Who am I going to get to translate my marketing (online and offline), labelling and packaging and when do I need this by?
- How am I going to get a China domain and what help might I need to do this?
- Which tradeshows should I be going to and what support can I get to go them?
- How am I going to make the most of being at this tradeshow?
- What should my follow-up strategy be?
- How long will it realistically take to start making online sales if I’m selling through an ecommerce platform and what other steps do I need to take to achieve this?
- How long will it realistically take to form a lasting relationship with an agent or distributor and what other steps do I need to take to achieve this?
As you can see, there’s a lot you need to do in order to start selling successfully into an overseas market, so having a plan that organises all these tasks and sets you’re a pathway which you can follow is a key task.
This plan shouldn’t just capture how you’ll start reaching customers in the markets, but also how you’ll get paid by them and how you’ll deliver the goods to them. These are again factors that should have come up when you were researching which market to sell to and each is covered in our Export Action Plan tool as well.
Need help coming up with your market entry plan?
If this is the first market entry plan you’ve conducted, you may find it difficult to get a sense of how difficult it is or how long it takes to answer some of the questions we’ve suggested above. There are, however, several support organisations out there who can help you with the various different aspects of your market entry plan.
One of these is the Institute of Export & International Trade who can guide you through completing the Export Action Plan tool and introduce you to organisations who cover key elements of your export journey – from translation companies to freight forwarders.
Once you’ve got your plan, try to stick it as much as possible, but be ready to adjust and update it as things change and new opportunities arise.