In today’s global economy any company no matter how large or small will one day be faced with the challenge of the international marketplace. This can be in entirely disruptive for companies and my first suggestion really is if you receive an enquiry through the internet or the phone, is use this as an opportunity to review were you are with your existing business. It may be that opportunities are available in your domestic market, the market that you know intimately, that you haven’t really thought about.
So the first tip is if you receive an enquiry from the international market place when this is completely new to you, ignore it and use the time initially to consider what you should be doing in the market that you know best.
If you really do believe that there are no significant other opportunities in your domestic market, make the decision to take international business seriously. By this I mean accept that in the short term and perhaps even in the medium term you won’t make any money out of an international venture. Take the opportunity to decide at board level that this is something you wish to do. It shouldn’t be the third finger on the left hand, jumping on a ferry or on a plane and going off and having a look. Make a serious board level decision that this is what you want to do.
Once this decision has been put in place, then find the right people to look after the international market place. Don’t fall into the trap of promoting your best UK sales manager but look for somebody who really does understand other cultures, who really has the right sort of track record. This is not just the ability to speak the language, important as this may be, but also really understand different cultures. A quick guide to understanding cultural differences is through a Dutch scientist called Hofstede, whose work is readily available on the internet. This is a very good read and helps understand some of the differences that are readily on the international market place.
If we move on having made some initial enquires etc, then you should be prepared to adapt your product to the international market place. If you think that one size fits all, then please think again.
The third step should then be to find a distributor – find someone who knows the other end of the telescope intimately, who knows the market, who can work with you in ensuring that your adapted product fits the international market place. If these steps are put in place then eventually you will develop an appropriate international marketing strategy that will enable you to add, over time, incremental profits to your business. You will need a lot of intestinal fortitude, it won’t be easy, but these steps will help ensure that the international market place becomes, over time, a source of incremental source of profit for your business.
If you require any further information please get in touch.