How to Break Into the International Markets
If you’re thinking about trying to sell your product or service as an SME (small to medium business) in international markets, there are a few things you need to consider first. Here are the key ones…
Tailor Your Strategy
Some might say that you need to have a brand new business strategy for each country you want to operate in. However, McDonald’s is proof that you can achieve international success with the same strategy adapted to different markets. You’ll have seen this if you have ever been abroad and stopped in a McDonalds as you’ll often find the basics are the same but the flavors or some of the ingredients are different based on the tastes, preferences and even religions of the local area. The best term to describe this type of business strategy is localization. When doing this you’ll need to be aware of the local laws and regulations that you’ll need to abide by such as packaging labels and data protection.
Be Prepared to Change
Just because you have chosen your strategy, whether it is localization or something else, you will need to be ready to make changes and respond to trends with your target audience, testing and trialing strategies along the way. Again, McDonald’s does this well and in more recent months is even bringing food from other countries to the McDonald’s restaurants in the USA, so that customers can experience the chain’s foreign delights. Understand localization thoroughly by checking out the market for yourself. Get a good hotel booking in your chosen location and stay there for a while, taking in as much first-hand knowledge as possible from contacts and customers.
Do Your Research
You can’t expect that you’re going to be able to rock up to your international countries of choice and just start selling. You need to make sure you have an understanding on how the local area operates, what manufacturing and distribution facilities are available to you (if you are selling a product), what competition is already in the area, the demographics of your target audience (this might be different from your current target audience) and any fees or charges that might be involved. Your products, methods of manufacturing and general customer service must be in line with the rules in your chosen international markets so don’t get burned by rushing in before you have done your research.
Draw Up a Realistic Budget
When you first started your business, you will have had to draw up a budget of how much it will cost to get you started. Breaking into the international markets is no different. As before, you’ll need to be realistic with your budgeting, plan for every eventuality and allow for the marketing material you need to get your message out there. Build in a contingency pot so that you’re not caught out by out-of-the-blue expenses.
Surround Yourself With the Right People
In business you’ll always hear about how you should surround yourself with people who you trust, but not only is this still important when you are going international, it’s important to surround yourself with people in the know too. It’s likely you will not have a huge understanding of the international market you are about to break – and there’s only so much you can take from your reconnaissance mission – so having local people as a part of your decision-making team will help to make sure you are bearing in mind the views of the locals.
We hope you enjoyed this promoted piece as much as we did!