The 1989 baseball movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, is best remembered for the famous line “If you build it, they will come.”
While it makes for a captivating movie and sounds great in theory, this is rarely the case when it comes to growing your business.
When planning your company’s international expansion, it may seem tempting to copy a successful approach you’ve already used in a different region. But the reality is that such a strategy fails more often than it succeeds.
Instead, businesses must do the proper research to be prepared to reach customers where they are, and in the way they prefer, with messaging and benefits that appeal directly to their wants and needs.
Since you can’t expect customers to simply come to you as soon as you enter a new market, here are some marketing tactics you can use to create a customized experience to earn their business – as well as their loyalty and respect.
1. Pricing is more than a currency conversion
When it comes to price, it can be easy to think you can just convert the price of your product from the existing currency to that of your new target market and call it a day. While converting prices to local currency is helpful, it should be just one part of your overall pricing strategy.
Take a look at how potential competitors price their products, and how much customers are willing to spend.
If other companies are offering similar products at lower costs, or there aren’t enough customers capable of purchasing at your price point, you may need to rethink your strategy.
This is particularly true if competitors have already been in the market for a while and have built up brand loyalty.
On the other hand, you need to know what level of profit will make your business sustainable there. How will distribution costs, marketing costs, and your overall business strategy affect what you can price your product or service at?
It can also be difficult to set a price if you are entering an unproven or niche market and will have to pay a great deal up front to establish your business there.
First, find out what your potential customers are willing to pay, and if there is a big enough market to support your business. Then, see what kind of price will make it a profitable market for your business. If those numbers are too far apart, it will lead to significant problems down the road.
2. Find out if translation is the key to market entry
Even as English is used increasingly worldwide, translating into other major languages like Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish or French is an important way to reach more customers in markets where those are the predominate languages.
Many countries, however, have several common languages in use. Singapore, for example, has four main languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, and 70% of the population speaks at least one language other than English. Even though the majority of people in Singapore speak English, limiting advertising and selling to one language could result in lost opportunities.
In markets like Singapore where several languages are used, assess the potential market size of customers speaking another language. You will also need to research the cost of translation, and what degree of competition there is for your products or services in that demographic.
If there is a sizable group that speaks a language few companies have catered to, speaking their language could be a great way to stand out and win customer loyalty.
Can your company afford to translate into multiple or several languages? If it can, will the return on that investment be sufficient to make it worthwhile? If the answer to both is yes, translation could be your key to success.
3. Find the right mix to maximize your marketing spend
Deciding on which methods to focus your advertising budget can be stressful.
To make the best possible decision, you need to know where your potential customers place their trust, the reach of various media, the size of the market for your product or service, and the cost of various advertising methods. If it’s inexpensive to reach a lot of people through one method, but it may only have a minimal impact, is that as advantageous as reaching a smaller group who are far more likely to act upon your advertising?
A digital-heavy strategy with banner ads, social media marketing and e-mail promotions may be ideal for a company in one country, while a mix of radio and print ads could be equally good for another. Never assume what’s worked before in one country will work again elsewhere. Take the time to research the market to determine what type of communication people are most receptive to, how many people could be influenced, and what it would cost before making a final decision.
Some companies may even consider counting on word of mouth to spread the word at low cost, or a viral marketing strategy that could have a huge impact disproportionate to the budget. Companies with bigger budgets may also consider more costly options such as product placement or celebrity sponsorships unavailable to most businesses.
While the best strategy is often a mix of various approaches, you need to know what will work best for your business.
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