Here are more of the key steps necessary to export your products or services successfully:
4. Devise marketing strategies for your target market.
International marketing is not the same as domestic marketing. Those who ignore this fact do so at their own peril. As successful as you may be at reaching your Canadian customers or clients, you must be aware that your international audience will frequently have different tastes, needs and customs. Good marketing strategies help the exporter understand and address these potential differences.
These strategies are captured in the international marketing plan, a flexible document that will likely be reviewed, revised and modified throughout your exporting activities. Marketing is a continuous activity and so is marketing planning because you can never know enough about your customers and how to meet their needs. The basic marketing formula – the four “P’s” of product, price, promotion and place – is just the beginning when it comes to international marketing. Your plan will need to address many other factors, such as payment (international transactions and currency exchanges), paperwork (increased documentation), practices (different cultural, social and business styles), partnerships (strategic alliances to strengthen your market presence) and protection (increased risks relating to payment, intellectual property or travel) and many more. Understanding all these facets of international business will transform your marketing plan into marketing action.
5. Enter the market.
The research is complete and the export and marketing plans have been devised. You feel ready to enter the market and are seeking the best strategy to reach potential customers. There are as many market entry strategies as there are markets; however, these strategies can be loosely grouped into three categories. Direct exports, as the name implies, involve direct marketing and selling to the client. In a reasonably accessible market such as the United States, direct exporting of products or services may be a viable option. But in less familiar markets, with different legal and regulatory environments, business practices, customs and preferences, direct exporting may not be an option. A local partner, for example, may be better able to manage these complexities and serve your potential clients better.
Indirect exporting is frequently used to enter new markets. Businesses selling products enter into an agreement with an agent, distributor or a trading house for the purpose of selling (or marketing and selling) the products in the target market. Due diligence is critical when selecting an agent or distributor for indirect exporting. Western Economic Diversification Canada has published a valuable checklist on selecting a foreign agent or distributor in its publication Ready for Export: Building a Foundation for a Successful Export Program. An adaptation of this checklist is found in Team Canada Inc’s A Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting (see below for more information).
The third market entry strategy involves strategic partnerships with other companies or individuals with complementary skills and capabilities. A partner can often provide the insight, contacts and expertise that fills the gap in your export readiness. A strategic alliance with a company selling a complementary product or service can provide more effective market access, resulting in more foreign sales in less time. As with indirect exporting relationships, contractual agreements with partners must be stated in clear terms and, whenever possible, refer to Canadian laws for the protection of the Canadian company.
Continue on to the next page for steps six through ten of successful exporting.