After successfully conquering the domestic market, going global is the next logical step. Yet, successfully penetrating a foreign market is easier said than done. There are many factors worth considering, such as language, culture, and local customs, that play a huge role in the establishment of a brand’s image on that market. Simply copy-pasting the domestic business formula is a recipe for disaster, as was the case with a plethora of global brands that went with a similar approach. Likewise, if you don’t want to become the laughing stock of the internet, as some of these unlucky brands, then consider making a business plan that will cover all of your bases beforehand. Therefore, here’s a guide to help you traverse all the necessary steps on your global journey.
Establish a domestic operation first
Before moving on to greener pastures, make sure your domestic operation is up and running. This way, you won’t be waging a war on two fronts, allowing you to focus all of your efforts on the foreign market in question. Also, stretching your resources too thin could have dire consequences on your whole operation, and as such you need to acquire some substantial domestic capital first. Expanding to a new country doesn’t imply starting entirely from scratch, but actually successfully re-creating what has worked well for you thus far. Finally, before proceeding any further, you should ask yourself the following questions: do I have enough resources to pull off this expansion, and is my company’s infrastructure prepared to handle the stress of such rapid growth? If not, then there’s still a lot of work to be done on your home turf.
Investigate market demand
Once you’ve accumulated enough capital, you need to check whether there’s actual demand for your products on that particular market. Extensive research is needed to determine who your potential target audience is; who your closest competitors are; and is such a venture even viable in the first place? Moreover, domestic achievements are no guarantee that you’ll have the same success on the international stage. Hence, you need to test the waters with various surveys and web campaigns or, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, by visiting the country in question yourself. A general rule of thumb is to keep a close eye on your local competitors, as they probably more familiar with that market than you are. What works so well for them, and how can that be applied to your business, if possible?
Localize your branding
There are many factors to consider when establishing your brand in a foreign country. Some of them include language, culture, religious beliefs, different life philosophies, political ideologies, and so on. Being totally ignorant of the local language and customs will put you in an awfully unpleasant situation. For this reason, you should consider consulting expert branding companies for their professional opinion on how best to proceed with your branding strategies on that particular market. You can find professional services on various online platforms such as 2Easy. Next, you need to work on properly adapting your brand’s name and its equivalent slogans to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. For example, Mercedes-Benz initially used the brand name “Bensi” for the Chinese market without realizing that the word meant “rush to die”.
Create an international team
When expanding overseas, assembling an international team is essential for two reasons. First of all, employing people who have previous global experience as well as the local workforce will ensure that your workers don’t suffer a severe case of culture shock. This is important, as you don’t want your employee turnover to plummet as a result of minor cultural differences. Second of all, employing a workforce that understands the local language is also important as it will help minimize misunderstandings caused by the language barrier between you and your customers. Consequently, you will be increasing your customer’s loyalty and retention levels, which is essential for establishing your brand on foreign soil in the long run. Yet, some of your international workers might have troubles learning the local language, and in this case, you should probably consider giving them additional language lessons to help them cope with that environment a bit better.
Adapt to local marketing channels
Finally, using the same marketing channels as you did back home might not be a viable option in some foreign countries. For example, countries such as China prohibit the use of Facebook, as well as some other social media, meaning there’s a need to adapt to their market’s equivalents. Likewise, some channels are more popular than others, as this varies from country to country. For this reason, you need to tailor your marketing efforts specifically for that market and find experts knowledgeable in the use of local marketing channels, such as WeChat and Weibo for China and the like.
In essence, try to re-create the spark that set your initial business on fire and make sure you’re well aware of the local rules of engagement before proceeding with your conquest.