by Laurel J. Delaney
How do you let the world know about your product or service offering in a way that people from all over the world can find you? And once they find you, what do they think of your brand? Below I provide 8 tips on how to manage your brand’s reputation to potential customers and export it the world over.
1. Develop a global mindset.
You can’t do a good job exporting a brand – think along the lines of exporting your reputation – if you don’t set aside time to think about and determine whether you are cut out for doing it in the first place. What I have observed and I wrote about this in my book, “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably (https://www.amazon.com/Exporting-Definitive-Selling-Abroad-Profitably/dp/1484221923/),” is that successful exporters have, or develop, a global mindset—the ability and courage to operate their business in an unknown environment. That mindset is critical to empowering a person to venture out in the world and adapt as he or she goes. Without it, it’s very difficult to take the first step to export, let alone export a brand.
2. Tailor your messaging to fit the market.
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? This is a question about cause and consequence. It’s similar to how one must look at exporting a brand: Do you tailor your message to fit the product or do you tailor your message to fit the market. Put yourself in the shoes of the end user, no matter where he is located, and you have the answer.
3. Stay true and consistent with your brand messaging.
Keep it real. Stay true, consistent and predictable. Say one thing and do it—over and over again until people everywhere get it. Think along the lines of Coca Cola, known worldwide. And don’t underestimate the experience of a product –the process of how an overseas customer buys and uses it – is part of the product itself. When a brand exports an experience that corresponds with its meaning, it has the potential of attaining the highest levels of global authenticity.
4. Avoid the standardization versus localization debate.
Don’t limit your brand’s scope by being purely local or domestic. Nor should you attempt to localize in every market you enter. A little of both – a convergence – might be the most effective strategy. The standardization philosophy requires companies’ products and processes be uniform (consistent) to minimize costs and promote an international image. The localization philosophy entails the need for adaptation and customizing products and services to fit the unique needs of each local market. The trick is to leverage the capabilities you have readily available to meet the needs of all customers—regardless of where they come from (offline or online).
Marketers have argued over the standardization versus location strategy questioning whether firms should globalize or customize their marketing programs across countries. Base your strategy around the industry you operate in (B2B, consumer products goods, non-durables, for example), your global operation, your reach, your customers’ needs and on your own goals and objectives.
5. Don’t take the “it just kind of happened” approach to exporting your brand.
It’s great that people are visiting your e-commerce site with some buying and others are not. If you take the “it just kind of happened” approach to exporting your brand, it means you are reacting to customers’ demands. Think of what would happen if you analyzed web traffic at your site (refer to No. 7 below) and targeted your marketing efforts to the country where the bulk of inquiries were coming from? Being proactive with marketing your brand to specific countries can help accelerate the pace for people to find you online. For example, you might receive 20 customer inquiries a week from Spain, but once you target your efforts there you receive 200. That’s the kind of proactive initiative I am talking about.
6. Be strategic with your global targeting efforts.
Once you pick a market to extend your brand into, be strategic with your global targeting efforts:
- Translate your website or a robust white paper to accommodate that market.
- Increase your social media and networking efforts through such places as Facebook, your blog, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Run targeted online ads through various online social platforms to promote your product or service offering in a market.
- Experiment with specialized online social media tools that allow marketers to send targeted messages to specific geographic locations.
- Find the top e-commerce platforms in an overseas market you wish to enter and sell your products there along with placing ads in areas where it is most likely that consumers will be searching. Gallerist (http://www.gallerist.com.br), for instance, is one of Brazil’s top e-commerce sites, FlipKart (https://www.flipkart.com), India’s.
7. Monitor all online traffic to see where it’s coming from.
If you have a blog or website, setup Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) to find out where traffic is coming from. Many online platforms have traffic metrics built in. It can be as easy as clicking a box to get set up and measure visitor traffic. Check. Monitor regularly and then target the countries where the most traffic is flowing in.
8. Ramp up on the areas where you see the most promise and potential.
Of the countries you have identified (refer to No. 7 above), which hold the most promise and potential? Choose one or two and begin further research. It’s always best to target a few good countries with your branding message rather than try to be all things to all people worldwide.
Every exporting path is different, but if you implement most of the suggestions above, you’ll find your exporting journey to be more of a leisurely walk in the park as opposed to an Ironman training course. So get started now, and watch your brand awareness build around the world.