Every entrepreneur that's willing to take their business over the border will have specific goals in mind. Our experience in dealing with international customers has shown us that there are several key factors that can influence success abroad, independant of the nature of the business.
EngagementWhen it comes to activating your potential target audience abroad, there are some key questions to have top of mind. What values do they have? What standards are normal? To get real understanding, you’re going to need to try and get to know your future partners and customers as thoroughly as you possibly can. That means investing the time in people necessary to create genuine involvement. Dedicate energy to building relationships with your new staff, business partners and customers as you acquire them. To do this effectively, it’s important to ensure you have sufficient resources in place before you start out. When it comes to creating engagement, it's necessary to accept that valuable relationships able to stand the test of time aren't built in five minutes.
Think across bordersAnother key concept is the recognition of cultural differences in potential markets. What works well in one region may struggle in another. That makes it important to tailor your communication to the local operation and the peculiarities of doing business there. One size does not fit all.
As we said above, finding a local partner and creating a strong relationship with them can be an important step in making this happen. Be sure to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise specific to your new market that they've built up. Their experience in a country where you have little will help make the first few miles of the road significantly less bumpy. The key is to make sure the ambition and the goals are crystal clear to everyone concerned.
Make use of everything the internet has to offerThe internet is your ultimate research tool. Look at new countries in detail. Which products and services are in particularly high demand in which locations? How does that translate to opportunities for you when potential risk factors around currency or logistics are taken into account? If you look really carefully, and honestly, what other potential complications could be lurking there? Does that vary within a country - per city or other region? The internet can put the information you need to create a competitive, focused, risk assessed strategy within reach.
Comprendez-vous?If possible, learning to speak the language of your new target group can be a major plus. Even basic understanding will help to break down barriers and demonstrate your commitment to your new operations. If that's not possible, again look to expert partners for assistance. The right translators can ensure you get your message across with the precision your success at home demanded. Research will help you to identify and locate your new audience, but the quality of your communications, in combination with local cultural awareness, will determine whether or not you are able to turn them into customers.
Competitive strategyWhat exactly are your strengths? Are they as perfectly in line with your new target markets as they could be? Shape your unique selling point as much as possible by comparing yourself with the current competition on location. After getting your strengths clarified, make a short- and medium term plan for each new destination. Which tools and tactics are you going to use to connect customers to your business? Your messaging around your added value will need to be adapted if you're to properly differentiate from the established competition in your new locations.
ConclusionRegardless of the proposition you're looking to take abroad, there are important common factors that will determine whether or not your business has a realistic chance of success. Put bluntly, you need to know exactly what kind of person you want to reach out to, and how best to explain to them the difference you're able to make.
Given your possible lack of local insight, finding the right partners and building strong relationships with them will likely be an important part of your strategy. Use them to build out your opportunity and threat analysis at each new destination. Be prepared to adjust your initial strategy based on what they're able to teach you. The internet will give you a sound understanding of the potential a new market offers, but it's that genuine local understanding that will really allow you to see if your business has a chance.