When it comes to your marketing strategy, it could be time to think outside the country. With a well-designed website and a targeted online marketing strategy, more small businesses than ever are selling their products to new audiences and markets around the world.
Small businesses that market internationally have greater sustainable growth and increased revenue over those that don’t. If you feel your product or service is right for the international marketplace, here are a few things to consider.
Before diving into the international market, determine if your product will appeal to customers in a particular market, if there is a specific need for your products and if you have a competitive advantage that few other competitors can match. Analyzing the best way to position your offering is the key to success. Fortunately, there are plenty of self-service tools you can use to accomplish this.
Conduct your own research by accessing the “export products” section of the Small Business Administration website, which provides a comprehensive approach for business owners who are new to the international market. This framework for creating your own high-level international business plan is a great starting place.
With an outline in place, you can move on to finding out if your product would fit well with an international opportunity by reviewing tutorials and other information available on sites like TradePort. Intended to help small and medium-sized businesses with global market strategies, this resource provides access to the same market information used by Fortune 500 companies so you can feel confident in your assessment.
When thinking about your target market, you’ll want to approach obtaining contact information for your international prospects in a way that complements your current marketing strategies. Whether you’ve gone this route in your domestic strategy or not, using third party companies to obtain prospect data lists is an easy solution.
If you are targeting other businesses to sell your products, sources like MailingLists Xpress can provide you with contact information for companies in specific industries. As a low-risk test market strategy, send out an email campaign to some of these companies to gauge their interest and gather input on your sales pitch and product placement.
A well-designed website with an eCommerce option can allow you to sell almost anywhere in the world. Thanks to our global economic infrastructure, when foreign customers use credit cards (as they will in most cases), their funds will be converted into U.S. currency.
If your business is not yet set up for eCommerce or is a bit dated, Web.com makes it easy to build or refresh a site with website packages featuring an easy to use DIY website builder plus an available eCommerce option. Or, for business owners short on time or those in need of expert assistance, Web.com’s web designers can capture everything that is unique about your business and design a site for you with an eCommerce option.
International regulations vary greatly between countries, so it is important to monitor and comply with the specific regulations for your geographic audiences. Things to consider include free trade agreements, duties, taxes, customs, tariffs and customer privacy regulations.
Every country typically has a website where you can find regulatory information. For example, Australia has an NSW Fair Trading site and the Canadian government has an International Trade and Investment section on its site. Simple web research will also provide you with ample information to assist you with any specific country you are targeting by searching for topics like “international sales regulations for (country name)” in online directories.
In addition to the regulations of your target market, you’ll want to consider making certain accommodations for foreign currency and international languages. This will help you reach as many prospects as possible and is a great way to make them feel welcome and comfortable. Creating that positive customer connection translates into higher sales and long-term customer relationships.
Most small business owners will need translation support, and there are plenty of options available. OneLink and Acclaro® are among the most reliable. Both offer free quotes and have capabilities to translate your copy into over 100 different languages.
Offering sales and customer support in your audience’s native language is another factor that may prove useful to grow and maintain your international presence. TCDX offers a range of solutions from customer support to inside sales and has a solid presence in industries ranging from travel and hospitality to eCommerce across multiple continents. Additionally, AnswerNet specializes in call center outsourcing and automation with multilingual capabilities and offers customized solutions.
Delivery of your orders requires planning, but most times when you are receiving orders through your website you can ship directly to your international customers. For these direct shipments, contact your local U.S. postal service, UPS or FedEx office for advice to help you be more efficient and cost effective.
If you are shipping larger products, outsourcing warehousing, international shipping and logistical management may be the best strategy. Consider exploring services like DSI Logistics or Matson® to handle the components of your shipping or warehousing that make sense for you.
Expanding beyond the domestic market is a great way to continue to grow your business and increase revenue streams. Use this guide to take your brand international – and your company to the next level.