Your company isn’t growing as dynamically as before and you have the impression that you’ve achieved almost everything on the local market? It’s a clear sign that the time has come for foreign expansion. This process is difficult, but the right approach will significantly contribute to your success.
No one is aware that entering foreign markets is nowadays not a privilege but a necessity as much as startups and technology companies. At the same time, this perspective often frightens them. “We only have a few people on board, how do we concur a market as large as X?” In contrast, I also notoriously meet with too much confidence — “The local market has received our product with open hands, abroad it will sell just as well, almost without any effort”.
Without a proper plan, preparation and hard work, no product or service will sell. Especially abroad. If you are going to make an expansion decision, then this article is for you. We already have this experience (Righthello’s clients come from 38 countries), but we also go through this process with our contractors on an ongoing basis, helping them to expand on new markets.
Prepare the basics in advance
It is hard to believe how many companies forget about the most basic aspects. If you want to enter foreign markets, it is an absolute must to know English. I don’t mean only the founder and salesmen, but everybody — the entire company. What if someone from the product team or the developer has to talk to a customer on Skype? All your employees should speak and read English, so it’s worth investing in classes for your team.
We’ve developed a following solution: everyone gets a Kindle for private use and access to a rich library of books, most of which are in English. This solution works great and the idea is already being picked up by other companies, e.g. Sotrender.
You will need a website translated into English. It would be best if all employees of the company had profiles on LinkedIn or local portals of this type, such as Xing in Germany or Austria, which authenticate you — of course also in English. The most important thing is to start these preparations before you have to enter new markets. Then there simply won’t be time.
Pick the market consciously
You probably already have a market in your head where you see your company. The main question is: why there? Founders usually can’t give a detailed answer. Too often I hear: “What do you mean, why the States? Our competition is already there!” or “You’re seriously asking where the idea for Dubai come from? Petrodollars!” Nothing comes from such answers, and blindly following a trend or a feeling is rarely a recipe for success.
The selection of the target market is a very important element in setting the expansion strategy. Therefore, the decision should be made very carefully, without emotions. The choice must be based on analysis, numbers, tests, and not on guesses and predictions. Check out the competition, demand, potential companies to cooperate with.
Pick the right tools
Remember that you need to choose the right channels to reach a potential customer. Firstly, the ones he uses, and secondly, the ones that suit your business type. It’s like choosing the right weapon to hit your target. If you sell your product for $10, then choose programmatic ads, not cold mailing, because it simply won’t make sense financially.
A separate issue is the language in which you should communicate in the new market. During our last webinar, the question was whether English is enough for marketing communication when our company enters a non-English country. I shared my observation then that when we communicate in our native language, we approach the topics more emotionally. Therefore, if you sell a predominantly analytical solution, it is possible that communication in English will work in such a situation. However, if you have the opportunity to enter the foreign market by starting communication in the local language, then by all means, do it. It’s always a strong advantage.
Drop false assumptions
Foreign expansion will fail if you build its strategy on the wrong assumptions. The most common mistake is the aforementioned belief that a great product will sell itself on a new market. Obviously, this will not be the case. You can’t do much on the new market without the right business facilities and properly built distribution.
Other faulty assumptions we often face are: “We will expand thanks to recommendations from existing customers.” Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There is a good chance that you have been working with rather domestic companies that don’t have a strong influence abroad so far. If that’s not the case and you have cooperated with large, international players, it will be hard to convince them to support you in the expansion.
Assumption: “We will produce great content that will promote us in the new market” is also a mistake. Usually you can’t successfully enter a new market using only one marketing technique — in particular focusing only on inbound marketing.
What you should take out from this article
When thinking about your company’s international expansion, you need to keep a few things in mind. First of all, to work on preparing the team to communicate in English. Secondly, to approach the choice of the market very consciously. Third, to know what techniques to use in order to effectively reach new customers. Fourth, to enter the whole process with the right beliefs and expectations.
I hope that after reading my tips all will go well, but if you have questions, any feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Good luck!