If you have a firm that wants to grow by expanding its opportunity globally, you should be congratulated for realizing that in the long run the more market share you take overseas, the fewer competitors you will have at home. For most companies, the trick is getting to a lot more market share without having to serpentine in the market or go through too much cash to get there.
So instead of going after an entrenched market like Japan right away, it isn’t bad to consider going after a country that is fairly simple to sell into from North America. Why is Japan a difficult place to get your product or service sold into right away? In most cases, it is because there are likely competitors that are already creating products in Japan that are well organized against market entry. Look at what happened when the Xbox first went on sale in Tokyo. With competitors like Sony and Nintendo, Xbox sales took off until reports started coming back about a broken or malfunctioning DVD drive that shipped with the product. Microsoft persevered by powering through the entire product launch anyway- yet the cost of entering the market on their competitors’ terms ended up making a similar type of product introduction prohibitive for anyone except the wealthiest of companies.
When you start simple, you develop a good entry strategy by looking for countries that buy as many US products and services each year as Americans buy from them. The implied evenness is called the balance of trade for that country. Locating a country that uses the type of product that you sell and then ensuring that the country has a balance of trade that isn’t chronically tilted against the country that you are exporting from can be two very strong steps in the direction of global growth for your firm.
At one West Coast Asian Professional NGO Meeting, a manager of a foreign company noticed that all the people that were running the international arms of their firms were American. To that person, the notion that everyone came from the US wasn’t that surprising. What was surprising was the idea that when he talked to them he found out that every single executive had little to no overseas experience before they were hired as the person that ran international sales.
The upshot is that you can always do much better if you demand someone who has experience in the market that you are chasing and has experience in the business that you are in. Don’t settle for people that you just move unless you are in an area where you do not have many people that have never been abroad.
Another thing that you would want when you start selling overseas is someone who has experience speaking any foreign languages that are present in that country. If you decide to start with the UK as an international partner, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you choose a country like Guatemala or Brazil, you will likely want someone with strong Spanish or Portuguese skills.
When it comes to language skills, there are a couple of gears. If you are planning on putting out sales and marketing information to a foreign country so that they can read and buy your products or services, it is a good idea to look at getting the best specialists possible on the job. Translation and localization companies that you look at will have the answers that you are looking for.
The difference is similar to asking your receptionist to create your marketing flyers or brochures for your next product launch in English. He or she may be capable of doing the task, but they won’t be as good at it in most cases as an advertising or marketing agency that you hire specifically to make your product launch work well.
Translation and localization firms have language specialists that focus daily on marketing or sales or technical lingo in the language that you need it in. You can feel confident that instead of someone creating an ad campaign that claims that ‘Coca-Cola will bring your ancestors back to life’, they will get it right and just translate it to ‘Coke adds life’.
The question for some firms once they figure out that they need a translation and localization company to do work for them is how do they actually pick the best partner? In most cases, the answer lies in being able to create a detailed set of requirements that drive the hiring of the partner based on certain criteria. If you are able, therefore, to delineate precisely what it is that you need for your project to be successful in advance, you will be ready to go out, conquer the world, and write a book about the top tips for global growth.
And of course, when you work with the right translation and localization company, you will find that they can scale for you in the same way that your international division could if it already had staff. Consider the scenario where you have people working on a market in Mexico, but you had multiple requests from Thailand a few months ago. You called a firm like inWhatLanguage.com and had them prepare your website, product data, and other details for a launch in Thailand. Now you are waiting for a next step decision on several distributors. You can rely on some of your international team to have an opinion on Thailand- but to be really good about entering the market full-scale in a way that brings you a large return, you need global strategy and marketing expertise. If you haven’t guessed the answer, it is that your translation and localization firm normally also has the specific experts that can help you to create a product empire in Thailand or whatever country you plan to go to.
Coordinated growth is key:
After you have entered a market with your staff and you have a good idea of what your expectations are, what happens when you exceed your expectations? In other words, you will want to have developed a regional strategy that encompasses all countries that you would like to expand to near the country that you started with. Alternatively, since your first country was a test, you could focus all of your growth in an area that contains a number of countries that are interested in your products.
On the other hand, a large retailer very similar to Macy’s expanded online by rewarding different countries that try and order through their US site and then have the company ship to their own country. Because each country didn’t have their own site language, sizes, and distribution center, the retailing giant thought it would be prudent to wait until they were able to show that they had enough sales infrastructure for them to add a website and a physical presence. The difference in their approach was that instead of clustering their rollout of foreign country support, they bounced around a lot to the countries that cared the most about their products. The similarity is that both approaches utilize coordinated growth that is tied to parameters that are set by requirements in advance.
Following top tips for global growth can bring a lot of opportunity to your business outside of North America. Once you get established, the key is to burnish your reputation by keeping abreast of the markets and the political landscape.
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If you’re interested in reaching global markets check out this E-Book, Localized Branding Guide: Reaching Global Markets. You’ll learn about creating a localized branding guide and how to use it to market to an international audience.
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