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Pets from the Internet for small exporters

Exporters seeking information or business contacts in their overseas markets may find it difficult and time-consuming.

The Internet is an invaluable tool for finding companies that are likely to be interested in alliances, distributing or purchasing products – and communicating with them to build and maintain the necessary relationships.

An observer of the growth of the Internet in his earlier days noted that "the Internet, like television and print media, is another resource developed in new emerging media to promote products and / or services. The similarities end there. The Internet also adds the ability to communicate quickly and at a lower cost, and It enables companies that need information to find them quickly and easily, and the Internet can be used in a number of ways to promote your business internationally. "

Even with the help of the Internet, export still follows the same basic rules. Before the Internet was a very important factor in export marketing, many areas were identified as being important to export success.

One of these factors is companies' ignorance of foreign laws and customs, either of which can negatively affect the potential success in any foreign market.

Among the other factors identified in many studies conducted on successful export marketers is the development and enhancement of competitive advantage within the target markets.

Maintaining an effective distribution network and marketing techniques was a top priority after the company operated in export markets.

Government assistance in identifying and developing relationships with companies in foreign markets was generally considered necessary, but the information gold mine now available online means that we are all less dependent than we were.

In the first part of my career, actual travel to potential markets was crucial to developing export markets, but at great cost. The first innovation to help us was cheaper flights, but with the advent of the Internet, this travel is no longer a very critical problem now, as many small companies have been allowed to enter export markets more than was required when international travel is widespread (and expensive).

The purpose of this foreign travel that was previously required was often to search for government and private sector sources that could provide us with information on regulations and market research experiences and an introduction to companies likely to be interested in working as a distributor or retailer of the company's goods or services. Resources such as local chambers of commerce, trade associations, and government data on specific sectors of industry and commodities have been available for years, but generally only through individual subscriptions or libraries.

Several years ago, there was great hope for the potential of direct trade via the Internet. With only relatively few exceptions, success in direct online sales has been elusive for most of those not involved in business transactions. However, the Internet provides a wealth of information that applies to more standardized methods of achieving the "international" situation and should be considered an integral part of establishing and maintaining relationships with foreign distributors and retailers.

I suggest that what is important in export success is the ability to create websites to market your products, give credibility to your business and make it easier for clients and potential customers to locate you and communicate with you. Your website can be as big or simple as you like; it will be largely determined by your budget but remember that with a little time and thought you can create your budget at little or no cost. If you want a good site, this will be expensive and you will need to see the work of several consultants before settling one of them to create your site.

The advent of new technological advances, such as video sharing sites like YouTube, gives you access to a new generation of web user to help grow your brand but you'll need to get the basics of online marketing strategy right before venturing into this arena.

What is available to you immediately, at no cost, is the ability to create blog sites. The blog was originally a web-based diary (weblog). I have tried my marketing and PR blogs from time to time with articles for small companies at http://www.headlinepromotions.blogspot.com and attracted a large number of visitors. Creating nothing requires just your time, but it does provide you with a free instant display tool and free public relations. As long as you include promoting your blog's website title in your marketing strategy, this will be an invaluable tool for you.

I hope these brief ideas are useful but I welcome your comments and suggestions on any future articles on the European perspective of export marketing.

John Hicks, Managing Director of Headline Promotions, Press and Public Relations is based in Basingstoke in southern England. With many years' experience in marketing, trade promotion and public relations (including time spent working with UK manufacturing advisory service for the South East region and engineering employers in the South), John specializes in the manufacturing and entertainment industry. He is also a contributor to a number of British and American magazines.

John is always pleased to provide free informal advice via email; contact him via email at john@headlinepromotions.co.uk – please mention this newsletter. You can read the Marketing and PR blog from time to time with articles for small businesses at http://www.headlinepromotions.blogspot.com/

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