By Neil Gauld
Making the decision to expand overseas can be an extremely exciting time for you and your business, but it can also be quite a daunting prospect. There is a lot to think about to make sure you market your brand effectively to the international marketplace – one wrong move might be the difference between complete success and utter failure.
Despite the hurdles you may have to overcome, global expansion can be vital to the growth of your business. It will provide new opportunities to develop your business and allow you to attract custom from an entirely new audience. As long as you are fully aware of the challenges you might face and how to tackle them, there is nothing stopping you from successfully expanding into a global market.
So what do you need to bear in mind when it comes to marketing your brand abroad? We have outlined five things you’ll need to consider when moving into a new international market.
1. Conduct Market Research
As you probably already know, market research is absolutely vital when launching in a new market. Without knowing what your customers want and how to differentiate yourself from the competition, you will struggle to penetrate the market – especially one that is located in a different country. So, before you launch your business internationally, you need to take the time to research the new marketplace.
We won’t bore you with the details of what you need from your research, because you will know better than us what information to glean from the target market. But one thing we will say is to remember that just because your current market are interested in your product or service does not mean a new market will feel the same.
For example, your new audience might benefit from some alterations to the branding, content, or even the product itself. You should not assume their preferences are the same as your current market, and market research will help you understand the needs of a new audience. That way, you can be sure that you’re effectively promoting your brand.
If you have never had to do international market research before, do not worry – GeoPoll has produced a handy roundup of the international marketing research process that you can use as a guide.
Top tip: When it comes to conducting your market research, don’t forget to make the most of secondary research before conducting your primary research. For all you know, there could be an abundance of data out there relating to your target market. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at this list of websites that provide international business data and statistics.
2. Cultural Awareness
Being culturally aware of the business etiquette in your new market is essential when it comes to marketing your brand abroad – one cultural faux pas in your branding could be enough to put people off for good. To make your launch into the new market successful, you will need to have a thorough understanding of the local culture.
So what exactly should you be looking for when researching the business customs of your new market? We’ve outlined a few areas you might want to think about:
Some cultures have particular connotations to specific colors, words, phrases or numbers that you might need to be aware of. For example, in China the color red is often associated with good luck, whereas the color white is often associated with mourning. Making yourself familiar with these superstitions will help you avoid any cultural mistakes in your marketing materials, and can also help you make use of any positive words or phrases to promote your brand.
A joke or anecdote that has been well received by your audience in the UK might not be appropriate in another country. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the style of humor in the local culture.
You might want to think about the predominant religion in your new market and how this could impact the way you market your brand. Research has suggested that religion can influence customer behavior, so it could be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the religion that is practiced by your target audience. For more information about the effects of religion on consumer behavior, take a look at this report by Northeastern University.
You will need to be aware of any cultural differences throughout every stage of your launch into the new market, right from advertising to website design. One mishap could jeopardize your entire expansion and tarnish your brand, so it is important to get it right.
For those who are not familiar with transcreation, it is fairly similar to translation but pays particularly close attention to preserving the message, intent, style and tone of the text. In other words, the text is recreated to appeal to a specific audience. This makes the content far more engaging and adds an element of authenticity that cannot be produced with machine translation.
The last thing you want is your brand falling apart because the audience was unable to connect with what you were trying to say. So, to make sure that your brand message is clearly understood by the new market, you will need to use transcreation. This will ensure that the personality, purpose and concept of your brand will be understood by the international audience, despite being represented in another language.
4. Competitive Pricing
It goes without saying that when approaching a new market, you need to create an effective pricing strategy. If you approach the market with too high a price, you are likely to lose customers to a competitor that is already established in the market. If you approach with too low a price, customers are likely to question the reliability of your brand and your product. It can be tricky to decide how best to price your product, but this is where pricing strategies come in.
To successfully launch in a new market, you need to make sure your pricing strategy is competitive in comparison to the market average. The best way to do this is to set a lower than average introductory price to enter a new market, also known as penetration pricing – a term you are probably already familiar with. This Pricing Strategy Matrix outlines penetration pricing along with skimming, premium and economy.
The aim of penetration pricing is to gain competitive advantage by attracting customers with a lower price which will help you enter the market quickly and effectively. In doing so, you should gain an increase in market share from your competitors, and establish yourself as a real contender in the market. After you’ve successfully launched with penetration pricing, you can then think about changing your pricing strategy to offer something slightly more premium.
Remember: Every business is different in terms of their product or service, and where one strategy might work for one organization, it might be completely wrong for another. Although we would advise using penetration pricing to enter the new market, you will need to determine which strategy works best for your business.
5. Create Local Partnerships
If you’re going to promote your business in a new and unfamiliar market, having a partnership with a local business or supplier is always a good thing. Not only will it help you learn the ins and outs of the international market, but it will also substantiate your business as a reputable and reliable organisation for potential customers. So what are the best ways to find the best local partnership? Here are a few starting points for you to consider:
- Attend Business Events: To find a partner in your new market, it’d be a good idea to attend local business exhibitions and networking events. That way, you can get to know the business face-to-face and get a feel for how the relationship would work – something you cannot get from corresponding solely via email.
- Speak to Your Current Contacts: It might be a long shot, but you never know who-knows-who in the world of business. Speak to your current partners, shareholders, suppliers and employees to see if they already have relationships with organizations in the market. This will be a great stepping stone for you to form a partnership.
- Social Media: Using professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn, can be an extremely useful way of reaching out to potential partners. It’s quick, easy, and will allow you to search for businesses that fit with you and your brand.
If you do find an organization you’d like to collaborate with, make sure you do some background research before formally establishing the partnership. Does the company have experience working with an overseas partner? Has it received good reviews online? Is it a successful business with a good reputation? Bear in mind that you will have little knowledge about the new market, so making sure that you partner with the right organization is essential.
As you can probably tell, there are quite a few things to consider when it comes to making sure that you market your brand effectively to an overseas audience. However, if you successfully prepare your business for a global market — and have a good understanding of the local market and the challenges it can bring — there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to effectively market your brand abroad.