While it may be hard to fathom, there is a whole world wanting to buy your product. Whether you sell vacuums, coats, or software, people across the globe are looking for what you have. The issue, though, is getting your website or product in front of them.
Pushing your business into foreign markets can be a great way to grow and increase revenue, but doing so isn’t easy. You’ll need to be strategic with your expansion and make specific plans for each new area you plan to grow in. It’s not as simple as just translating your website — you need to adapt to new cultures and buying habits. Here’s some tips on how to successfully get into new markets and grow your business.
Pick a Country and Then Research
Blindly rushing into a country is a recipe for disaster. Anytime you want to start marketing in a new country, whether it’s neighboring where you live or across the world, you need to do research.
First, learn about the country’s culture and how it differs from your own. Making a simple cultural mistake could be the barrier you can’t overcome. Learn about popular religions, history, practices, holidays, and more. Learn how marketing differs in the country and how you can adapt your current strategies to match their trends.
Next, learn about the international economies, especially the differences between your country and your target. That can include what currency they use, how that will translate to your prices, how you are going to deal with exchange rates, and more. You also should learn what kind of things your target market spends their money on, and how that will impact your pricing.
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You’ll also need to fully research your new target market. Not every person in your target country will want your product, so you’ll need to perform market research to get a good idea who you are marketing too. That means interviewing those in your market, maybe even taking a trip to the country to learn more about it. What differences do they have to your current markets and how will that change your tactics?
Finally, research into the trade and shipping laws of the country. What kind of taxes and tariffs will you need to account for? Are there laws and restrictions for advertising and marketing in the country? Breaking a law in a foreign country could mean not being able to ship products or do business there.
Build a New Site or Translate?
Depending on the preferred language of countries you plan on getting into, you might need to adapt your website. Sure, it’s pretty accepted that english is a very common language for the internet, but speaking to your target market in their language can make you more credible. Even if your country does speak english fluently, there might be slight differences you need to consider. For example, if you sell deep fryers to both US and the UK, the US calls fried potatoes french fries while the UK calls them chips.
So, you’ll need to make a decision; do you build a new site in the preferred language of the country or simply translate your current one.
If you choose to simply translate your site, hire a practiced translator to do the work. Online translators like Google translate can only get you so far. Some things, like local phrases or idioms won’t translate well into other languages. Translating your site will be cheaper than building a whole new one, but also means less customization.
Building a new site for an area means being able to better target their needs and culture. That can include changing images to be more inline with their local marketing tastes, addressing needs they might have other target markets don’t, and even getting a local top level domain (like .uk or .ru). The downside though is the extra costs of building a site from the ground up and the time it will take to upkeep it along with any other sites you run.
Local Social Media
As you work on becoming a part of the local market in your target countries, you’ll need to also understand how they use social media. Different countries use social media is varying ways from how you do, some even using it as a primary means of communication. Other countries don’t even use or have access to major platforms like Facebook or Twitter, instead opting for local social media.
If you plan on having long term success in a country, you’ll need to account for their social media usage. That means getting acquainted with new platforms and studying how they utilize it. You might also want to consider hiring somebody fluent in the local language to become a social media manager to help navigate and best use it.
Making Local Contacts and Business Partners
As your influence in a foreign country grows, so will demand for your products. If you are shipping from across the world, that might mean an unacceptably long wait time for your customers. To be able to provide competitive benefits to your customers, such as free shipping or fast delivery, you’ll need to make connections in the country.
That means you need to find business partners in the local area, create connections, and make business deals. Growing your business will make this a necessary choice, whether you want to move a portion of your production to the country, or just rent out a warehouse. You’ll want to make contacts or even consider local business partners.
Navigating international business meetings and environments can be tricky, especially if you don’t speak the language. You’ll need to learn all you can about how business is conducted, how culture plays into it, and find a middle ground. The benefit though is having a strong hold in that foreign market and have people in the country who can react to problems quickly. That could even include taking over marketing for the business entirely in that area.
Finding Success and Growing Further
It’s quite likely that your first attempts at growing your business into a country won’t find success. Don’t take that initial failing as a sign the market there isn’t ready for you, instead take time to evaluate what you did and why it failed. With persistence and planning, it’s possible to find success doing business overseas. Then, as you start selling in one country, move to another. This is how brands and businesses become global influences. They use the success they find in one country to help springboard them into another.
Once you have found success and make plans to continued expansion, keep going back to the basics. Do research on the country, make decisions about your existing sites, and cater your marketing to the local culture. Apply that with your current marketing strategies and tactics and you’ll find success worldwide.