What is the right way to approach new markets and how does approaching an international market differ from a domestic approach? What needs to be considered? How do you make the optimal choice? We look at the advantages of Roadmapping your export activities to maximise potential.

Separating what we know and defining what we don’t know is essential.  The aim of your bespoke Roadmap should be to achieve increased market share.  By defining the stages, deliverables can be measured, considered and controlled. The map will define what the criteria for success are, what the budget is and what timelines are to be followed.

The structure of both desk and primary research is the same as for any new market with the added ‘colour’ of international trading requisites and culture.  Using a Roadmap template can help to guide a company to seek the information needed to launch a successful campaign in a new market.  Creating a template that your company can design and adapt to suit a product or service; your Road map can be used to define both short and long term objectives; to collate and analyse the market opportunity, the market approach and ultimately market sustainability.

The overarching requisite is management buy-in to a cross departmental growth strategy.

A company that operates in silos will not be able to sustain approaches to new markets.  The support for each department should be centrally managed and be deployed throughout the whole company.  Of course, in a smaller company that could be easier to accomplish as staff usually are multi-functional.  A danger point may be in a company that tells one of its sales people – ‘oh, you’re good at sales, we are going to send you to Manila for a week – go and get some sales over there’.  That sort of approach could cost a company dearly.

Direct employees in the marketing, sales, expediting and despatch departments and should be appropriately trained and should know how to sell the product in an overseas market.  They will need to understand the many variables of getting goods to market, any customs and/or non-tariff barriers, currency fluctuations, documentation, getting paid etc. etc.  That is of course over and above whether the company has the capacity to deliver increased sales in a timely and cost effective manner.

The other point to consider when researching a new market is whether your company choose to define a target consumer before looking for that consumer group in another country or, look to growth markets and then find the potential customer group.  Segmentation analysis is time well spent.  Of course, you may wish to segment by sector, by geography or by other criteria.  Identifying a target market is only the first step however and information gathered at this stage should help to highlight the markets with potential.

Recognising where and how your competitors are active will also give a company insight into some of the options but don’t forget to check any complementary products/services – a half open market can give a significant advantage through cross referrals, contacts and distribution routes to markets.  Capitalise on businesses you already have a relationship within in this country to encourage these benefits.

It is certainly right that you should think Global and act local.

In fact, your route to market roadmap should consider how you will market and sell your product or service in the destination country.  The key to this is making your messaging, your brand, your contact and your terms of business with potential buyers local.  You should localise your offer.  We have all heard of the car called the NOVA – a great mistake to target Spain where the translation of the name meant ‘Doesn’t go!’.  This was definitely an example of a centralised marketing department not taking the trouble to understand the local market.

One approach that perhaps is overlooked is the value of customer centric marketing.  Traditional (Push) marketing is all about shouting about your product, raising your brand, sending flyers, being visible etc. and there is certainly a real value in getting known for QCD (quality, cost and delivery).    However, a customer led model (pull) focuses much more on working with the customer to understand their wants and needs to develop the product/service and/or how they access those goods.  Blending of the two marketing approaches could lead to both process improvements and customer modification requests. Again, localisation is the key here – what your customers in Bradford want and need may be totally different from what your potential clients will need in Slovenia even though the product could be the same.

There are many tools a company can use, most of us are familiar with SWOT and STEEPLE.  An Ansoff chart is particularly useful – determining whether you are going to develop the easiest option (existing products and existing markets) right through to the hardest (new product, new markets).  From control charts through to CPA (critical path analysis), Porter’s 5 Forces to Future State Mapping, there is a plethora of tools that lend themselves to the depth of analysis needed for your Roadmap.

Whatever your Roadmapping result looks like – make sure it is comprehensive, that it gives you the information your company needs to make that valued judgement.

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Author Linda Middleton-Jones delivering a presentation on Roadmapping for export at a Connectivity Cornwall event

Contact Middleton Jones today to find out how we can help put together a Roadmapping template for your business, creating a repeatable formula for increasing your overseas revenue.