Whether you’re buying New Zealand ice-cream in Qatar or French beauty products in Japan, the world has become increasingly globalized, with imported products crossing borders to such an extent that you’d be amazed how many countries are represented just at your local supermarket! Of course, it’s not just products: much of the world’s population accesses overseas-based services on a daily basis. Just look at how Facebook has penetrated the most remote nooks and crannies of the globe, and you’ll understand how international borders are no longer a significant barrier to business success.
So how do you tap into this market for your own business? Here’s some ideas!
Visit in person
It’s a lot easier to understand what’s happening on the ground if you’ve been on that ground. Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the country you’ll be expanding into, ask questions of as many people as you can, and really get to know the place and its people. From a boardroom overseas, it’s really hard to understand the ins-and-outs, and visiting in person can give you valuable local insight that can’t be substituted with facts and figures alone.
Learn about your market
Who else is operating in this space in your target country? What is your point of difference? Will your product or service appeal to the local population? There are plenty of examples of overseas launches that have failed, badly. Don’t just research the success stories: research the failures and see what you can learn from their mistakes. Also, don’t assume that the marketing you do at home will work elsewhere: the more local expertise you can call upon, the better.
The majority of English speakers worldwide are now second-language speakers of English: in other words, their mother tongue is not English, and they have learned English as a second language, whether as children or adult learners. However, regional versions of English may vary considerably, so ensuring that your website is optimally targeted to its target audience is very beneficial.
Despite the penetration of English worldwide, there is still a very large market which does not speak English, or is more comfortable shopping in their own language. Shopping should be a pleasant experience, not a mentally exhausting one! So if you’re targeting overseas customers in a non-English speaking country, then top-quality business translation services are a must-have. When it comes to choosing translation services, remember: quality is more important than price! A Google Images search for “translation mistake” will certainly show you what can happen when businesses prioritize the latter.
Familiarize yourself with local legislation
This bit sure isn’t fun, but it’s important. If you’re launching into a country in the developing world, for example, things can be a lot more complicated than if you’re launching in Canada. Even within the developed world, business legislation can vary hugely, and it can have a significant impact on how you do your overseas launch, and how you run your business.
There are experts who can provide you with much of the information that you need, so it’s best to seek their advice.
Build a network
Just like networking is important back home, having a network in your target country can really make a difference. Knowing the right people makes doing business a lot easier. But remember: networking isn’t only what they can do for you, it’s reciprocal, and it’s not just about being useful to each other, it’s about developing relationships. There are many excellent resources about how to network effectively, and that’s as helpful in your own country as it is overseas.
Good luck with your future business endeavours, and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section!