Exporting overseas could be a great way of expanding your business but understanding the market you’re aiming at would undoubtedly benefit from some hands-on research.
Through the beauty of the Internet it is possible to sit at the comfort of your own desk and research overseas business potential, but by travelling to the areas in question you can gain so much more. It doesn’t just allow you to analyse your potential customers, but it also gives you the opportunity to see how business happens in another country, therefore giving you the ability to assess your realistic business prospects.
However, before jumping on a plane with your overnight case wheeling behind you it may prove beneficial to make initial postal contact with potential customers. Enclose a brochure and snappy press release that illustrates instantly the services or products your business has to offer and ensure you have a business card and website address clearly on display. If you send it to 100 prospective customers and 20 take a look at your website, already you are raising awareness of your brand and brand awareness is possibly the most important area you need to work on.
Before sending your promotional pack, consider the language aspect of selling overseas. In European countries you will find a great deal of fluent English speakers but don’t take this for granted. For instance, if you decide to target Spain, would it be wise to invest in having your press release translated? This could be a great way to ensure you drum up some business but you must think of the after effects. Imagine if Luis from Barcelona decides he likes what he sees – how do you communicate with him when he calls?
There are several ways to overcome the language barrier. Depending on the size of your business it may be wise to employ someone who can do the communicating for you. For instance, they could be a sales rep on the road in Spain – out there visiting Luis with examples of your product and literature. Another option is to sell to a distributor who will then sell on to the local area.
However, if you simply choose to sell directly over the internet you will be able to get away with keeping with your English and attracting only English speakers but you will still need to market your business abroad. Consider making specific trade trips to go out and meet potential customers and if you feel slightly overwhelmed by this prospect, attend trade shows. They are an ideal way to meet people interested in a particular market and put you out there in front of potential customers, competitors and journalists giving you real opportunity to make your mark.
However, ensure you are really clued up about the trade show you intend to be part of and think about your staff. They will need to have sound product knowledge along with a good command of the local language but bear in mind that if the show is aimed at the International market, English may be the language of choice. It’s important to find this out because you don’t want to pay an interpreter hefty fees only to realise that most people will be expecting to converse in English.
When you return from a trade visit keep the momentum going by instantly deciding how best to move to the next stage with the contacts you have made. Use the knowledge you have gained to draw up a plan and consider the legal aspect making sure you adhere to the export laws. Be sure to contact HM Revenue and Customs and consider the guidelines on offer.
Moving into the foreign market could be a great way to grow your business. There is a whole world out there just waiting in anticipation to be wowed with your brand, so don’t stop on your doorstep – think BIG!