Considering taking your service or products to an international market, but unsure if your business is ready for the big step? Here are some questions to answer before you dive into exporting...
Are You Established in Your Home Market?
Establishing your business at home first is important because it demonstrates your ability to win work and help you understand how to best deliver your products/services.
Sales data, case studies and other information from your home market is also important to attract customers and channels partners in your chosen export market.
Have you found an Attractive Export Market?
Identify a market for your products and assess how much of that market that is accessible to you. Evaluate what is driving growth (or decline), changes in market conditions, etc.
Assessing an export market is done via market research. Typically this is a combination of desktop analysis plus information gathered directly from clients and others operating in the market.
Identify what are the customers' needs in this market i.e. what pain, problem or desire your product or service can address.
Do you know your 'Value Proposition'?
It's crucial to understand the unique beneﬁts that your product or service offers to potential customers. You need to be ready to clearly articulate (and ideally quantify) these: that means high quality marketing 'infrastructure' (such as a website) and collateral (such case studies).
Think about this from a customers' perspective focusing on beneﬁts rather than features.
Do you understand Compliance Rules?
All countries impose regulatory requirements on importers that they must comply with. These can include taxes/duties, packing, insurance and safety requirements and rules about how/where/by who your products and services are sold.
Both your government export agency at home and U.S.-based agencies (such as the SBA in the US) can help with this. Your lawyer and tax advisor are also valuable sources of information.
As an exporter you need to understand these requirements early as they will impact things like price, route to market, etc.
Are you ready to take on the competition?
It is also important that you understand the competition. How do they meet client needs; what are the unique benefits to what they offer? How do they win, execute and make money from their products/ services?
Crucially... how do you compare. What else can or should you do in order to differentiate yourself?
What is your route to market?
How will you market and then sell your products and services into the country that you are targeting?
There are a number of ways to market and sell your products and services into an overseas geography. Key considerations are cost, control opportunity and liability.
The main options include: remote marketing & sales from your home country, appointing an in-country sales representative, engaging the services of a sales agent, and appointing a distributor.
Have you developed an export plan?
To ensure that your team and stakeholders are aligned on what will happen and when, its helpful to develop a concise, clear plan for your businesses export activities including marketing, the steps to establish your route to market, funding, etc.
Organization is the key to success!
How will you fund / resource your export plan?
Breaking into your target market will almost certainly take longer and cost more money than you first think. It's important that you have funding and the right people in place to execute your export plan. Be conscious of the draw on management time.
An equally important question is who will 'keep an eye' on the business at home to ensure that it is not neglected.
Put your export plan into action, succeed and grow!
Review and repeat for other markets.
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