Going international: is your marketing strategy following?

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As globalisation and technology break down geographic barriers, going international is often the natural next step forward for businesses that spot a niche of opportunity in a foreign market and choose to follow it up.

Tapping into a new market should not be entered into lightly. There are many considerations to be taken before taking the leap of faith into another market; a lesser known domain in which a business needs to be positioned accordingly in order to cater for international sales and marketing. The reality is that entrance into a new market is not an extension of the current business. Without a well-thought strategy, chances are that none of the benefits a new market has to offer are likely to be reaped to the full. The experience for those who take the plunge before doing their homework can be disastrous. 

In order to be in a good position to succeed in international business, a business’s marketing strategy has to be adapted accordingly. A firm should commence by researching the target market. Readily available international trade statistics and any information the local embassy can pass on would be a good starting point. A native professional market research company should be able to provide valuable market information and tailor-made tips about how to approach the target market. Most importantly, a business always has to ensure that the research results are coming from a reputable source.

With this information in hand, market analysis should be the next step. A business has to depart from the point of having a clear motive for choosing to penetrate the market and a logical vision of where it wants to go. Only then can it decide on its product and service offering. International markets should not simply be seen as cash cows to increase the business’s income from the sale of existing products or services. Rather, one has to find out whether the current product or service has any potential in the target market. Possible threats such as competitors’ size and strength should be identified. Other challenges may be legal, financial and logistical in nature.

A good idea would be to travel to the foreign market to get a first-hand experience of how the market operates. Trade missions, usually organised by a trade promotion organisation, can help in this regard by facilitating contact with potential partners, competitors and customers. Networking events organised by local business organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce can also help with forging business relationships with companies operating in the same sector.

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