You have done your research and identified target markets you can compete in and you are at the export marketing phase. Now you have big opportunities for your business’s growth and it’s time to figure out how to introduce your brand to those markets and penetrate in an effective and efficient way.
Export marketing strategy is not export plan
Before starting to break down the export marketing, I want to be sure that you already know that export marketing strategy and export plan are not the same thing and that you’ve already done your export plan.
For those who may have missed the difference, let’s clarify it. Export plan is a holistic strategy that navigates you to go global. It helps you understand your capacity, capability and achieve your internationalization goals strategically. Export marketing is part of that plan and you cannot execute your marketing activities without an export plan.
A basic export plan includes:
- Introduction: Detailed information about the company.
- Goals and objectives:
- What does the company want to achieve?
- What key results do you aim for each market?
- What is the time frame to achieve those goals?
- Which products are you planning to export in your product range?
- Are you going to stand out with your full range or only with the competitive ones?
- Do your products require modification in terms of feature, packaging, labeling, trademark etc.?
- What kind of services are you going to provide for every target market?
- Price: Are you going to follow a fixed-price policy or a tailored pricing strategy for every single market?
- Sector and market analysis: Determine your target markets and note the market entry conditions. Keep yourself updated in target markets against any kind of changes that may affect your business and modify your plans continuously.
- Customer profile: Identify your target customers. Are they wholesalers? Producers who need your product to finish theirs? Distributors? End users?
- Competitive analysis: Studying your local and international competitors will shape your strategy. So, being unaware of their strategies and activities will cause you to make false decisions.
- Promotion: What are the best tools, channels and platforms for a certain target market to back your export marketing efforts?
- Budget: What is the amount to allocate from the budget in order to finance your export marketing activities?
You can expand on the export plan above according to your business’s goals and capacity.
How to craft an effective export marketing strategy
The main goal of an enterprise is to build a sustainable business with continued profits. As a would be exporter, you have to draw attention of potential customers in your target market.
There are basically two ways to do it: reaching out to them in person (outbound) and having them reach out to you (inbound).
Both methods are essential when it comes to selling your products, but they differentiate in that;
- Outbound marketing is relatively traditional compared with inbound marketing; you find potential customers and contact them via cold calling, cold emailing, trade shows and on site visits; and everybody does that. Sales pitches that come out of the blue may irritate people and if not done properly there is the risk of losing the potential buyer forever.
- Inbound marketing, on the other hand, never knocks on the door. You just prepare the ground for your audience and your job is to be there when they need your product or service.
Turn leads into customers with outbound and inbound mix
As I mentioned above, the first thing to do is to draw leads’ attention. You need to implement a consistent seo strategy including paid advertising to make people realize you online.
Read the articles about SEO:
When you succeed to attract your audience’s attention, they will want to be sure if they are in the right place. To clear their doubts, prove that you know what you are doing and that you are actually doing it.
To show your authenticity, there are a bunch of channels such as blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics, webinars, white papers etc. Use these freebies as lead magnets and in return get their contact info.
Educating your audience brings you loyalty.
The best way to prove that you are genuine;
- Use photos and footage from production, trade shows, events, office, shipping and similar concrete evidence.
- Testimonials are also great for proof.
To have detailed information about your offering, they will first visit your website and then head over to social media accounts. When they visit your website, they should get these information easily:
- What exactly do you sell? Show your product specifications in detail.
- What services do you provide?
- What benefits do your products and services have?
- Who do you appeal to? For whom are your products?
- What countries do you appeal to?
- Packaging and shipping options
Be where your audience is!
To showcase your brand, you need to use every means possible:
- Website: Your website is your online business card and online home where you welcome your audience first.
- Digital platforms:
- Social media – Be active on your social media accounts with periodic posts and engage with your audience.
- Search engines – Maintain and develop your online presence with seo so you can be found on the first page of search engines. We all start with google when we need to find information.
- B2B marketplaces – You don’t have to buy membership from all the B2B websites. Most of them allow you to open a free basic seller account. Even if you can’t get premium service, when you register your brand is listed on the database of those platforms.
- Trade directories – Trade directories, after search engines, are the best sources to find companies around the world. Registering your company to the relevant directories helps you be found by potential buyers.
- Paid media – With paid advertising on social media and search engines you appear in front of your audience in no time and get the chance to have them on board.
- Trade shows: Participating in trade shows (fairs, exhibitions) is a traditional way of getting together with potential buyers. Yes it’s fairly expensive for small businesses, but it could make you an exporter shortly. Businesses also participate in trade shows as it gives them prestige. Namely, a business that exhibits its products at an international trade fair proves its existence in the flesh and that it affords such promotional activities which provides credibility in the eyes of its audience.
- Networking: Face to face communication is another traditional way of introducing your brand and is still the most effective one. Socializing with as many people as possible at trade shows, organizations, events etc. will have a tremendous impact on people. The more you expand your network, the more you get the chance to be introduced to your network’s network and get referred. This way you also happen to pave the way for WOM marketing.
Alright, you caught your audience’s eye and they tend to credit your brand. What you have to do now is give them a reason why they should buy from you. Why would they take the risk of losing the relationship with their current suppliers?
Their biggest fear will be that; if you fail to satisfy them with your offering, their workflow will be affected negatively and they will have to return to their previous suppliers with probably higher pricing and different terms.
Another point is that; if you are not offering anything convincing that differentiates you from your competitors, why would they be convinced to buy from you?
In short, differentiate yourself in the competition, show your audience the best of you and give them a reason to choose you.
You have drawn their attention, proved your authenticity and existence; fed them with valuable information, tips, how-to’s, news; sparked their interest and now they are interested and ready to hear your proposal.
Give them your best shot!
In order to push them to a decision, get closer by offering them something free;
- Free samples
- Customized products
- Welcome at the factory
- Free consultation / advice / report / inspection
After all these, even if they don’t buy from you, they owe you an explanation. That explanation could be the answer to why you lose your leads mostly and when you have realized it you get the chance to figure it out.
Feedbacks from leads are of great help to grow your business. Hearing about the pain points directly from them helps you to adapt your products and services to their needs and desires. This way you come up with the perfect product that best meets the needs of customers.
If you have a word to add, you can share your knowledge on the comments below.