Going global is the goal for almost every small business…
With 1.2bn online customers around the world, businesses who tap into international markets are much more likely to succeed.
And nowadays, more than ever, this is an actual possibility thanks to the Internet and social media which has opened doors to the rest of the world, giving small businesses access to different geographic markets and allowing almost anyone to become a global trader.
But of course, it’s not quite as easy and closing your eyes, putting a pin on a map and saying ‘I’ll take that country.’ There certain things to consider before you start plotting world domination…
1. Are you really ready to export? Really, really ready?
It sounds like a stupid first point, but ask yourself, are you ready to export? Do you have the time, the resources, the manpower and money to begin exporting? Is this going to be profitable? How much will you need to sell to cover the set up, labor and exporting costs?
Get a business and marketing plan in place to cover absolutely every step of the way and eventuality.
2 Study, study, study. Do your market research
Before you launch your product or service into another country, make sure there’s a market for it. You need hard evidence, not just a gut feeling.
Look at your Google Analytics, Facebook Insights etc to see if there is any traffic trends coming from a specific area.
Examine search trends to discover if there is an veritable need for your company. A starting point is to use Google’s Keyword Planner which will give you an idea of how many people a certain country are searching for what you have to offer.
If you find that there’s huge search traffic for your industry, don’t just shout ‘yippee’ and get started. Make sure to research any competitors and their market share, as smaller secondary markets with fewer competitors might be less of a risk.
You’ll also need to assess how competitive your price will be within the market and be sure to take taxes, tariffs and export charges into account.
3. Are there any lawful impediments?
If you want to go international, it’s a good idea to start with one country or area and go from there. Immerse yourself in the culture, society and background of the country. Investigate if there are any legal or cultural regulations or issues surrounding your product or service. And for goodness sake, make sure your brand name does not mean anything offensive in the local language.
4 And on that note…
Language. Yes – you need to know the language. You don’t have to be fluent, but be aware of keywords surrounding your industry. It’s incredibly ignorant to expect customers to deal with you in English. An idea is to hire a customer service type employee who has language skills and can communicate with your customers either on the phone, via live chat or email.
In addition, it’s also advisable to build a section of your website dedicated to these international customers. Have the page locally translated. Avoid using Google’s automated translation, as it’s rarely 100% accurate, which will just annoy native speakers and cause them to bounce straight off your site.
Having a local-rate phone number will also help make your business more locally accessible to international customers.
5. Sell yourself
The best way to get started with promotion is to find a highly targeted niche group of people who you are certain, will need your product or service. It’s more cost effective than just targeting a whole country, it’s much easier to measure effectiveness and it gives you something to build upon.
Facebook advertising is a great tool, as it allows you to target an audience by a wide variety of factors like gender, age, country, language, interests etc. That way you’ll be able to build a somewhat captive local online community.
Another great tip for promoting is to find the big local influencers – the local celebrities, journalists and media personalities. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and build a relationship with them.
6. And last but not least…
If you are planning to sell a product abroad, international shipping can be a major concern, as high unaffordable courier rates are the main roadblock to global success.
Keeping international shipping costs as low as possible will significantly help your profitability. We might be a little biased but using Irish Parcels is the best way to do this. One of our top priorities is to help local Irish businesses expand into global markets, so our international shipping rates are extremely competitive.
We will provide you with the best prices and the fastest shipping times for major couriers like DPD and TNT, who have an excellent reputation for reliable service. We provide full tracking and door to door service and it takes just five minutes to book online.