In our last blog post we explored the importance of “culturally rebranding” to meet your target audiences’ needs. This week, we will take the discussion a step back and focus on how to prepare your business to “go global.”
UNO works with a lot of companies that want to develop a presence in international markets. Before embarking on new territory it’s important to understand the culture, customs, needs, and unspoken rules that will ultimately help you better tailor your concept for that country.
It is essential, before entering a new market to identify the motivations behind your decision to explore entering the international marketplace. Look at what your domestic marketing strategy has been and how the business plan needs to be tailored to be positively received in a different market.
Here are UNO’s top tips to help prepare your business to enter the international market:
- Learn the customs and business etiquette. When entering a foreign market make sure you know the country’s history, the proper way to greet someone, the ordinary times for lunch and/or prayer. Make sure you are communicating with them in the expected way within their society — using appropriate salutations, etc. Building rapport with people and understanding their value system are essential tools for doing business globally.
- Learn the language. Understanding the language of the market you’re entering is essential. When you visit a country for the first time, hire a local guide or translator—especially if you’re not fluent in the language. The U.S. Embassy should be able to put you in touch with a guide; ask for someone with connections in your industry. The price for an interpreter depends on where you’re going and what level of expertise you want. Make sure you know what you’re getting – a good guide will open up doors for you.
- Check out the competition. Has one of your competitors tried to enter this market before? What obstacles did they face? How did they approach the new market? And most importantly, what would you do differently? The Department of Commerce website is a good place to start for helpful information including country fact sheets and press releases.
- Check in often. If you’re looking to expand globally, you’ll need to be in constant communication with distributors, sales reps, and other colleagues. Phone and e-mail can be impersonal – using online-video conferencing could be a good alternative if you’re unable to travel to the new market often.
- Learn the laws. Overseas, your company will be subject to unfamiliar regulations. Get solid contracts with the companies you’re working with in the new market – preferably contracts that you can enforce in the United States. And, when you’re doing business in a non-English speaking country, make sure you can communicate effectively with your local partners. Again, learning the language is essential to ensuring success in international markets.
- Focus groups, focus groups, focus groups! Understanding each country’s culture means you have to find ways to reach what would otherwise be the same demographic but in a different location. A new approach may be needed to make your product or service suitable to the needs of a new market. Studying these cultures, including their professional and personal customs, will ensure that you conduct yourself in a respectful way. This will also signal to business leaders and potential customers in the new market that you know their protocol, you’ve done the research and you’ve taken the time to adapt your business to their culture.
More and more small businesses are finding it easier and more profitable to expand their business internationally. A well-conceived strategy to go global can actually reduce risk for your business and build sales. For more information on the consulting services that UNO offers to businesses going global, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.