Internationalising your business is one of the most effective ways of leveraging growth. When carried out in a carefully managed manner, it enables you to avoid stagnating revenues and increase the company’s legitimacy within its business sector.

Though the process has obviously now been made easier by globalisation and new technologies, international development does still require a well-structured strategy from the outset. Discover our eight tips to help you build your international development strategy!

1.Surround yourself with the right kind of support

There are numerous public organisations whose purpose is to provide help and support to all kinds of businesses, from startups to major groups, with respect to operating internationally.

The British Chambers of Commerce

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), through the international Chambers of Commerce network, exist to support and connect businesses, share best practice and encourage new opportunities. By providing practical support on the ground and via their numerous experts, BCCs help businesses trade on a local, national and (more specifically) global international scale, and this includes the provision of specific support for international commerce.

The Department for International Trade

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is a UK government body. It was founded for the purpose of helping British companies expand into foreign markets (and conversely, to promote the UK in order to attract foreign investment).

Country or sector-specific advice, market studies, identification of potential commercial partners, preparation for events… through its network of offices in other countries and its advisors in the UK, the DIT provides help and support to British companies looking to establish themselves in foreign markets.

The Federation of Small Businesses

The full name of the British Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited. FSB members benefit from expert advice in various areas (finance, strategy, etc.) as well as a supporting voice lobbying on their behalf with respect to the government. Aimed mainly at small businesses experiencing rapid growth, the organisation focuses in particular on providing them with help and support with respect to doing business internationally.

The Institute of Export & International Trade

The purpose of the Institute of Export & International Trade is to improve the export performance of British businesses through the provision of training and support. For example, the organisation is responsible for putting in place professional standards governing international commerce and export practices.

It has also developed a free informational website designed to help small businesses in the UK prepare themselves for export and international development:

2.Choose the target country or countries carefully

Whether we’re talking neighbouring countries or enormous markets such as the United States, there are many attractive international business markets. However, it’s important to carefully select the markets in which you intend to establish yourself by asking yourself the right questions:

  • Are there any key players with whom you may be able to establish partnerships or that you could perhaps even buy?
  • Is the market saturated?
  • Are you conversant with the market’s cultural codes?
  • Do you already have customers in the market in question?

A market’s attractiveness is dependent on many different elements, i.e. business volume and the sector’s growth potential, cultural particularities (associated with your domain of activity and business in general), consumer typology, the competitive landscape, etc. It is essential to carefully determine each market’s strong points respective to both your economic model and your company.

3.Prepare a product or service that’s in line with your strategy

Speak to your customers in their own language

The first stage in adapting to customers in a new market is speaking to them in their own language. You’ll need to take into account all the various elements that serve to connect you to your customers, prospects and users: website, customer service, emails, marketing content, commercial presentations, documentation and tutorials, etc.

You’ll also need to think about localising the many elements that vary dependent on the region or country in which you’re located: business hours, payment methods, contact phone numbers & email addresses, social network accounts, etc.

Adapt yourself to their needs

Consumers in a foreign market may have priorities or selection criteria that differ from those in your domestic market. Are your products and/or services adapted to the target country’s consumer habits? If you operate on a B2B basis, is your domain of activity dominated by major accounts, SMBs or self-employed individuals/freelancers? It’s worth carefully considering all these questions to ensure you meet the target consumers’ needs as effectively as possible.

Ask consumers for their opinions

You may already have international customers, in which case the best way of being sure your product and/or service is adapted to their market is to ask them. Develop an open, two-way relationship with them so you can understand what the market trends are and learn more about the product’s characteristics or the features the customers would like to see, etc. This does entail a risk of discovering that you’re going to have to deviate from your initial plan, but you’ll at least have a good understanding of what you need to do or not do should that turn out to be the case.

4.Develop a good marketing strategy

If you think you’re product or service is so good that that’s enough on its own, you are sadly deceiving yourself: as wonderful or high-performing as it may be, it won’t find an audience if you fail to make marketing one of your priorities.

Strategic marketing & product marketing

In order to differentiate yourself from your potential competitors in new markets, you will need to work in-depth on your value proposition. This could potentially be different from the one you use in your company’s traditional market. So ask yourself the right questions: Who is going to use your product/service? What are the benefits to consumers? In what ways does your company better meet their needs than others?

Once you’ve defined your value proposition, you can then begin highlighting and showcasing your vision of your product and/or service to your target consumers. If your business sector is already well-established in the market, you will probably need to emphasise selling points such as the price. In less well-established sectors, the purpose of product marketing will be to evangelise the market by focusing on gains in functionality, concrete benefits, or even by highlighting a need consumers have not necessarily thought of before!

Communication and lead generation

Localise your website

As a showcase for your business, your website will of course need to be adapted and localised for your target markets. You can find several tips about translating and localising your website here.

Take part in local events

Lying halfway between commerce and marketing, events and trade fairs provide a good way of meeting future customers, and they exist in practically all business sectors.

Carefully manage your press relations

Local press attachés, independent journalists, specialist bloggers… PR is a huge area and comes in many forms. Find the approaches (and prices!) that best match your needs and resources.

Engage your customers via social networks

Whether you operate on a B2B or B2C basis, social media now plays a considerable part in business, especially when a company is expanding into international markets. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram… you’ll need to explore which are the most relevant channels for your target group profile.

Emphasise your expertise

When it comes to positioning yourself as a leader in your sector, there is nothing better than creating high quality content and using it to display your expert knowledge in the domain (in a completely modest way of course!). Ebooks, white papers, infographics, videos, press articles, blog posts… there are many formats you can use to create captivating content. Additionally, a marketing content strategy also needs to be accompanied by a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, if it’s to be effective at generating new leads for your sales teams.

Discover the next part of our tips to help you build your international development strategy in a few days time! And to learn more about translating and localising a website, download our free ebook!

Translation and website localisation: best practices

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