Our digital world tends to reduce time and distance barriers and makes us think that we live in a flat world, as Thomas Frideman describes in his book. Our perception is different from reality. As our economies continue to evolve, working internationally does too.
My name is Stephanie Mazier, and I have worked in international markets for over 20 years. My broad experience helps me create innovative marketing strategies to enter new markets for any company in any industry. If you are considering entering a new market, here are my tips.
- International markets require intercultural management.
Intercultural management is the ability to understand and adapt to other cultures. Most of the SPIN community either lives abroad, works abroad or both. This was also my case as a French national, living for nearly 17 years in Spain and the Netherlands.
Intercultural management is quite a complex skill as it requires us to step out of our judgment and stereotyped ideas to adapt our message and be understood. This is key if you want to succeed in your international relationships to build a client database and a network of partners and suppliers and to grow and establish your business.
How can you develop your intercultural skills in a foreign market?
- Stay up to date by consuming data-checked research to avoid biased decision-making.
- Learn and use the correct language. I still encounter bad translations
- Develop a critical eye for your business, and choose the marketing tactics that work for that market because what is obvious in your home country may not be accepted or come across as bizarre out there.
2. International markets require a strong marketing plan
New market development is a sales-based activity that cannot be separated from marketing. Because marketing strategy is an essential step between your business strategy, business model, and your actual growth, you should create a specific marketing approach.
Marketing allows you to find your fit and your best go-to strategy, so it is important to reflect on these steps. During this process, you will identify two main pillars: your market segment and audience on one side and your brand identity and product or service positioning on the other side.
You will realize how to adapt your product or service to your new market.
Do you think selling accounting services in France makes sense if you are a Dutch company? Do you think Dutch people would be willing to buy English rollmops?
How can you pay attention to your international marketing strategy?
- Recraft your marketing strategy again from scratch and get a fresh perspective on your business, perhaps from a bird’s eye (external) view
- Use polls to test your product or service and get feedback from your audience.
- Compare marketing tools to identify missing or hidden data.
3. International markets may require a specific budget
Growing your business internationally may include hidden fees if you do not consider the following points:
- The wrong packaging and labelling for the new market can mean losing a lot of money.
- A poorly translated service can make you miss out on business deals or perhaps even lead to a poor reputation.
- An underestimation of your competition or legal framework can create additional, unforeseen costs.
Even if you are selling online, adaptation is the key to success. Native-speaker salespeople are an important element in facilitating growth.
How can you avoid unexpected costs?
- Understand the ins and outs of the country you are selling to. Even in Europe, we may miss some critical information and news that may impact our business.
- International business includes extra attention to details, such as taxes, logistics, legal aspects, and cultural habits. Every business aspect that sounds usual within your home country is difficult to navigate when you go abroad.
- To grow internationally does not always mean you need a big budget if you are well prepared. Being well prepared includes following the first two tips listed above.
Typically, I find a strong marketing approach and flexible mindset always support my success.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, I recommend you listen to the podcast from Tiphaine Le Roux: Leverage Marketing With 0 Budget To Launch New Countries - International Corner Podcast, Episode #11: https://podcast.ausha.co/international-corner
I am also happy to help you with your marketing strategy and empower your growth to be the changemaker you wish to be in this world. Beyond international markets, I use marketing strategy to help companies as a tool for CSR, change management, and strategy.