Eight tips for defining your export strategy

You can’t go on a trip abroad without at least some luggage. It’s the same thing if you want develop your business in another country. Intuition is not enough. You have to do everything you can to prepare. Here are eight tips from export professionals to help you ask the right questions and to lay the foundations of your international strategy. You shouldn’t skip this step when structuring your business deployment.

Tip #1: Take time to define your strategy and to formalize it

If you want to get your future export project off to a good start, take time to define and formalize your ideas, wishes and goals.

There are a number of things you should consider:

  • Is your approach more proactive or more opportunistic?
  • What are your current strengths and weaknesses; what do you need to do to get started?
  • Do I have the means to achieve my goals?

In short, define an overall vision: your strengths, your weaknesses, the areas you need to work on, your goals, your resources, etc.

Tip #2: Evaluate your readiness to export

It is essential to evaluate your readiness for international development. This requires an uncompromising analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, what you need to do to upgrade your IT skills, your knowledge of purchasing, logistics challenges and more. There is a lot that needs to be done!
This time for reflection will obviously not be wasted. It will help you define your needs, build your action plan, identify where you need more skills, and identify the risks and how to minimize them.
Calling on an export professional to get an external viewpoint can be a valuable help to avoid overlooking anything in this analysis and validation phase.

There are a number of aids available for companies that are developing their export business.
On the websites of these organizations, you will find the conditions of eligibility and the ways they can support you. The main ones are: BPI France, Team France Export, the Regional Council and Marketing Insurance. Also check out the industry-based aids offered by the Federations, Chambers of Commerce, the OSCI, etc.

There are a number of things you should consider:

  • Do you already have an international presence? If so, in what way?
  • Do you have enough production capacity and the necessary internal teams?
  • What regulations apply to your industry?
  • Do you need to adapt?
  • Do you need to have your catalogs translated? Do you need a special after-sales service and marketing adapted to the countries in which you wish to do business?
  • What are the best media for advertising your business?
  • What is your reputation in the countries you’re targeting and how can you create or strengthen your reputation?

Your action plan will then take shape and will be targeted geographically. Your plan will have a schedule, it will be calibrated quantitatively and qualitatively, and you’ll have a structured budget.

Tip #3: Study the hows and whys of your market.

Your market research must respond to a decision-making need and not just based on reflexes.
Sometimes market studies reassure us more than they actually inform us. These studies can be expensive and the amount of your marketing budget that you allocate to them may not be worth the return on investment.
Depending on the situation, a “real test” can be more instructive than an ad hoc market study.
It’s still important to verify the feasibility and commercial relevance of your project. When properly conducted, market research is a useful tool, especially for approaching export markets that you’re not familiar with.
You can also carry out so-called “free” market studies by focusing your research on the specific areas you need to know more about.

There are a number of things you should consider:

  • Is it a developing market?
  • Is there a particular legal framework that must be complied with?
  • What is the local competition like?
  • Would a test be useful, and how would you do it?

Tip #4: Choose your type of establishment

There are several possible types of establishments that can be appropriate for your needs and your commercial situation (such as subsidiaries, distributors, franchises, etc.)
Finding the right formula for your company will depend on making the right diagnosis ahead of time.
Depending on your internal organization, choosing a local establishment rather than a distributor may be a better idea.
It’s possible that the specific legislation of certain countries may lead you to seek a franchising solution or to work with an exclusive distributor.
You should look at all of this very closely.

Tip #5: Communicate

Know-how and knowing how to communicate naturally go hand in hand. In order to sell, you have to communicate. This is an essential component of any effective marketing policy. Here again, be careful to choose communication channels that are adapted to your goals and to your target customers.
And remember to create a marketing and e-marketing budget.
This is a valuable investment.

There are a number of things you should consider:

  • How should you communicate about your brand?
  • Is your brand well-known in the target territories?
  • Should you adapt your international communication?

Tip #6: Adapt your internal processes

Once you’ve chosen your export distribution channels, the next step is to assess your logistics, financial, IT, sales and after-sales service processes. You’ll need to make sure that these processes are adapted to the country, including for regulatory, technical and/or cultural reasons.

Tip #7: Manage your export business

Also think about adapting the tools you use to monitor your business, by choosing appropriate indicators that correspond to your strategy and goals.
You can, for example, use dashboards that focus on a few simple key indicators and share them with the teams involved in your company’s internationalization project.

Tip #8: Review and strategic adjustment

You’ll need to be patient as you’re waiting to see the results of your efforts.
We recommend using “test and learn” strategies that allow you to redirect your actions according to the results on the ground and to adjust your management based on real data.
This approach is implemented upstream.
A regular analysis of the results is essential for adjusting your development action plans and your strategy.

This pragmatic approach may cause you to re-prioritize your goals, in which case, you’ll need to review your budget.

Are you ready to start exporting?
World Sellers can help you create a global export strategy and implement the right marketing solutions for your business. Contact us on LinkedIn @Worldsellers

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