Global Search and Connect
They must be able to find you, right? So a combination of International eMarketing initiatives, with strong SEO strategies and possibly paid search programs, will help drive relevant traffic to your business and begin generating a global buzz. If your budget warrants it, you may want to consider coupling these ideas with placing your product ads in high-traffic international settings. If however, you get in on the ground floor in your category of offerings and have an effective SEO campaign that provides you with good search visibility, this may be enough, as you are able to solidify your brand on these platforms and propagate business before the competition settles in. And once your target has found you, they need to understand you. Your systems of delivery on the global platform have to be super straight forward and user-friendly; anything too fancy (even fonts) isn’t always a good idea. Set your goals and know whether your target marketing strategies demand that you outsource freelancers to write, connect, or translate your work…English, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese?
Social proof, Wiredness, Mobile and Cross-Channel Marketing
The international client wants to know your status and weight in the industry and their preference for big brands can impact your chances at success. The good news is that the smaller entrepreneur does have the edge on passion, personality and elegance…not to mention there’s less bureaucracy with smaller companies. Online and offline, your business story must be instantly recognizable. With mobile communication said to be where the bulk of the growth will come from going forward, smaller entrepreneurs who decide to compete globally, must also go mobile. Social networking knows no geographical boundaries, so use it for everything from business testimonials and published works, to awards and alliances. If you’re saying to yourself, “I have none of that in place right now”, this may be one of the first places you’ll want to start. Begin pulling out every single piece of publicity, exposure and credential that you have gathered over the years, and turn it into a portfolio of accomplishments.
Become a Walking, Talking Human
Accessibility, even though you are half way across the world, is mandatory. Not so surprising, many international clients want to speak to you personally before purchasing. So you need to know time zones…and basic money matters. I like this world clock website, and for foreign exchange rates, this website is good. Skype or some form of visual is popular in some areas of the world, but I haven’t found it to be that way in general; voice is usually more than sufficient. Email is the preferred method of communication, so I make sure my responses are pointed, detailed and filled with links to the subject at hand. Although I have a generic presentation that I can do in my sleep (!), when I’m on the the phone, I feel like this is the time we should be talking both professionally, and personally. After all, this is a person with whom I have much in common with and I want them in my life, for the life of my career.
Word of Mouth
It’s a really small world, and that customer in Beijing has a friend on an island in the Indian Ocean, and if her experience with you has been a good one all round, before you know it, you’re product is flying into that remote island in the middle of paradise. And international professionals don’t hesitate to share you with their colleagues, so often your offerings can spread like wildfire throughout one country, once you have developed even one great business relationship there.
If you are not that successful locally, it’s unlikely that you will do better globally
The negative side to word of mouth…. Where people used to tell 9 of their friends about you, they now tell 42. Online rating and ranking can ruin you if you rush into the global market with your eyes closed. And consider that by extending your reach globally, you may be reducing the dependence on established markets in your area, so you may meet with push-back and criticism locally.
10 Bonus Points – The (not so) small stuff really matters
- Protect your proprietary information
- Inventory management is more important than ever
- Many cultures are raised not to say “no”, so yes and no questions should be avoided and you should probably never say “no” either
- Offering to connect during odd hours is yourresponsbility
- If you are web-based, network latency (moving data delays) is the enemy
- Exclamation points may erode your validity!
- The short answer is almost never the best answer and patience is definitely a virtue
- Know ahead of time, what your perceived value-added offerings and activities will be
- Explore how you can re-engineer your offerings to meet different market demands
- Determine how you will evaluate/recognize your success or failure.
Better get a go-go on global… NOW!