Ultimate guide for SMEs targeting foreign markets

Attending Professional ConferencesToday, more than ever, UK SMEs take the full advantage of latest technology and globalisation and approach foreign markets with their services and products. Although nowadays it is easier than ever to successfully market yourself and your brand abroad, it is still a very difficult task which requires careful planning and consistent implementation. Here are 4 steps which you should consider completing before approaching a new, foreign market:

Localise Carefully

There are a number of different theories as to what the best way to approach a new market really is. Some prefer the one-for-all approach where every market is treated the same and so it is also approached with the exact same product and marketing material as the home market. Others, on the other hand, prefer a more localised method. By localising the way you penetrate a foreign market, you allow yourself to specifically target a particular group of customers with the most appropriate message. In many cases, just because a marketing message worked perfectly fine and was successful in your home market, it doesn’t mean it’ll work well abroad. In fact, such material can in many cases cause offence due to social, religious or political differences. A great example of a country where localisation can be a very important factor could be China. Generally speaking, symbolism is a very important aspect of life in majority of Asian countries. By localising your marketing material and product you can protect your brand image from being negatively viewed.

Additionally to localising your marketing efforts, it is also very important to localise your product/service itself. Approaching the Japanese market with a range of furniture prepared for much larger, European houses, sounds like a terrible mistake, nevertheless, it belongs to one of the largest companies in the world – IKEA. As you can imagine, the Swedish giant failed miserably on the Japanese market due to the ‘one-for-all’ approach and only managed to successfully penetrate the market years later with a range of localised products and marketing campaigns.

Translate and speak their language

As you can, hopefully, tell by now – localisation is a very important aspect of approaching a foreign market. This however, cannot be done without another key ingredient from the mix – translating your material such as websites or legal documents. Many business owners from the UK tend to forget that not everyone in the world is able to speak and understand English. In many cases, this can be a very challenging obstacle to overcome as over 90% of customers declare they are more likely to purchase if information about the product is available to them in their native language. By approaching the customer and speaking their language, you naturally gain their trust and build a stronger brand image. There are many different solutions a business owner can choose from when it comes to translating their business material. From free online tools such as Google translate to working with professional translation agencies such as Translation Services 24 – each solution has pros and cons. For example, using Google translate is quick and free, but it does not guarantee language localisation or full accuracy, which can sometimes be harmful to your brand image. Working with a professional translation agency on the other hand, guarantees that your message will be fully localised to the target audience as well as accuracy and professionalism, but this is something that will have to be incorporated within you budget.

Get to know your new market

One of the very first and most important steps to take when targeting foreign markets is finding out as much valuable information about it as possible. A number of businesses from SMEs to large, international corporations fail, simply because they enter the wrong market at the wrong time. There are many different factors which influence market’s approachability. From competitor analysis to service/product saturation – it is extremely important to understand how the market works exactly before investing in it. Ideally, a business owner would target a market with little competitors and saturation and high product demand. There are also other factors which should be considered such as price levels or legal limitations. All of these can greatly influence a business’s chances for success on an overseas ground.

Research your customers

Equally to researching information about your potential market, finding out in detail about who the people buying your products are, is also extremely important. There is a number of aspects, from political to social, which might affect their consumer behaviour and ultimately the outcome of your campaign. Such factors as religion, country’s political situation or cultural norms can strongly influence whether the message you send to your potential customers is received positively. A great place to begin to understand who your customers are and what drives their purchasing decisions can be PEST analysis. By doing this, you’ll have a much greater insight into your potential clients and their situation.

These four steps are the essential beginning to approaching new, foreign markets. As previously mentioned, it is now easier than ever to successfully take your business abroad, nevertheless, it is still a difficult task. From Understanding your potential customers to translating and localising your business material – all of the boxes must be ticked before you’ll be able to successfully trade abroad.

Published by Kidal Delonix (1198 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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