Businesses all over Canada have the potential to successfully export their products or services. Every entrepreneur, regardless of business size or offering, can potentially increase sales, compete in diverse markets and reach a global audience with his or her particular skills and expertise. One of the key components for export success is an international marketing plan.
Many Canadian businesses operating solely in the domestic market have a reasonable understanding of the needs of customers and potential customers. These businesses are generally familiar with the marketing tools at their disposal to reach their target audience. They know how much it costs to use these tools and they have specific objectives in mind when they implement their marketing strategies. Once these businesses start looking beyond the border, however, many of the assumptions about marketing are no longer valid. A new marketing plan is required.
The best place to start the international marketing plan is with the business. Take a fresh look at what the business is about: what products or services does it offer? Why is it unique and what value does it offer customers? What are its current strengths and weaknesses (financial, human, technological, cultural and operational resources, for example) and how will these affect its ability to compete in a foreign market?
Once this self-analysis is completed, the reasons for exporting need to be addressed. Such simple questions as "why do we want to export?" are not necessarily simple to answer but the responses are important. A business must have a clear objective of why it wishes to undertake the challenge of exporting. It also helps a business establish the degree to which exporting influences the business direction and strategy.
In some cases, exporting may play an important yet secondary role based on the objectives of the business. In other instances, a business may find that its future is built upon exporting and this element of the business will become the primary focus. These decisions are simplified by conducting thorough market research.
Continue on to the next page to learn how to use market research to get your successful international marketing plan under way.