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Get a go-go on Global !

 

If I had to give one piece of advice to those who wish to go global, it would be:

Commit wholly to your global brand…being a bit global, doesn’t really work 

 

Networking with similar businesses that have gone global is a great idea, and when you do this, you will probably hear that looking for the most important global problems that need to be solved, will always spell massive potential…but even then, it can be more challenging than expected. There are some problems where being big is an advantage and some where it is not. 

Whether you are big and muscled or small and nimble,

you need to know where your offerings fit in

 

Correcting problems internationally is far more challenging than dealing nationally.  Although expanding to a global market is risky, strive to reduce risk wherever possible.  That means:

  1. Knowing your channels of handling and distribution intimately
  2. Having dynamic business systems in place that can deal in diverse situations
  3. Designing even your niche offerings to satisfy a broad scale of appeal.

 

Production & Delivery

If you are dealing in physical goods, the (financial and physical) barriers to entry can be far greater than if you are net-based.  Evaluating your budget and cash flow situations so that you know you are capable of supporting the new demands that will be placed on your money, is key.  All things considered, the biggest financial consideration for businesses dealing in physical goods will be shipping.  It is very expensive, particularly if your overseas buyers are asking for price breaks that will further impact your costs.  In terms of controlling and managing the safety of your goods, it’s important to note that even with the big air shippers, in the more remote locations your fragile or small(er) package may be handed over to a local carrier for the last leg of the journey and actually end up stacked alongside large shipping crates and suitcases.  Because of this you may require overseas shipping insurance, or even hiring a freight forwarder.  Customs and border operations is an integral part of the shipping process, and knowing both your fixed and variable costs from production through to delivery is critical. 

 

Flexible Payment Options

Consider setting up your eCommerce platform to accept multiple payment options, particularly if you are selling large ticket items.  Not all people in all countries have access to credit cards, so wire transfers and miscellaneous methods of money transfer must be integrated into your system. Special payment terms, discounts, and longer credit extensions may also be requested by your global clients.  If you do opt to offer payment plans, you may also need a system that will monitor “holds” and “activate” deliveries once payment in full has been received. 

 

Quality and Price

Quality means something different in every country… ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.  But make sure your offerings are so solid they can withstand even the toughest, most scrutinizing cross-continent consumer. The value of the North American Dollar(s) vs. the Chinese Yuan Renminbi, Pakistan Rupee, Chilean Peso, Serbian Dinar or South African Rand, is not always relative.  Particularly if you are selling to the end user; sometimes this individual has been saving for months or even years to purchase your product. Wages are so low in some countries, that this purchase is quite literally a lifetime investment for them.  So your offerings simply must not disappoint.  

 

Understanding Cultural Demands

This requires research, yes, but also dynamic, flexible business processes that can accommodate the unknown, because you will definitely be learning as you go.  For example, as touched on previously, a shopping cart that is locked into strict business processes will become problematic in the global market.  As well, proper business etiquette in the many countries that you want to do business in is key, but how will you learn them all?  The best way to handle these wide and varied circumstances, is a good dose of humility.  Use it liberally.  Respect that you are the outsider and that you must not only prove that your offerings are their right choice, but that you personally are worthy and deserving of their business; nurturing relationships with your international client is very important.  Installing some kind of auto response system to follow up on your leads will also be important now, because the sales cycle can be considerably longer with an international client.  Often email is the first line of communication, so be sure your electronic signature has all the information on your company they’ll need, such as a tag line, link to your website, and all your social network channels.

 

Global Search and Connect

They must be able to find you, right?  So a combination of International eMarketing initiatives, with strong SEO strategies and possibly paid search programs, will help drive relevant traffic to your business and begin generating a global buzz.  If your budget warrants it, you may want to consider coupling these ideas with placing your product ads in high-traffic international settings.  If however, you get in on the ground floor in your category of offerings and have an effective SEO campaign that provides you with good search visibility, this may be enough, as you are able to solidify your brand on these platforms and propagate business before the competition settles in.  And once your target has found you, they need to understand you.  Your systems of delivery on the global platform have to be super straight forward and user-friendly; anything too fancy (even fonts) isn’t always a good idea.  Set your goals and know whether your target marketing strategies demand that you outsource freelancers to write, connect, or translate your work…English, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese? 

Social proof, Wiredness, Mobile and Cross-Channel Marketing

The international client wants to know your status and weight in the industry and their preference for big brands can impact your chances at success.  The good news is that the smaller entrepreneur does have the edge on passion, personality and elegance…not to mention there’s less bureaucracy with smaller companies.  Online and offline, your business story must be instantly recognizable.  With mobile communication said to be where the bulk of the growth will come from going forward, smaller entrepreneurs who decide to compete globally, must also go mobile.  Social networking knows no geographical boundaries, so use it for everything from business testimonials and published works, to awards and alliances.  If you’re saying to yourself, “I have none of that in place right now”, this may be one of the first places you’ll want to start.  Begin pulling out every single piece of publicity, exposure and credential that you have gathered over the years, and turn it into a portfolio of accomplishments. 

 

Become a Walking, Talking Human

Accessibility, even though you are half way across the world, is mandatory.  Not so surprising, many international clients want to speak to you personally before purchasing.  So you need to know time zones…and basic money matters.  I like this world clock website, and for foreign exchange rates, this website is good.  Skype or some form of visual is popular in some areas of the world, but I haven’t found it to be that way in general; voice is usually more than sufficient.  Email is the preferred method of communication, so I make sure my responses are pointed, detailed and filled with links to the subject at hand.  Although I have a generic presentation that I can do in my sleep (!), when I’m on the the phone, I feel like this is the time we should be talking both professionally, and personally.  After all, this is a person with whom I have much in common with and I want them in my life, for the life of my career. 

 

Word of Mouth

It’s a really small world, and that customer in Beijing has a friend on an island in the Indian Ocean, and if her experience with you has been a good one all round, before you know it, you’re product is flying into that remote island in the middle of paradise.  And international professionals don’t hesitate to share you with their colleagues, so often your offerings can spread like wildfire throughout one country, once you have developed even one great business relationship there.

If you are not that successful locally, it’s unlikely that you will do better globally

The negative side to word of mouth….  Where people used to tell 9 of their friends about you, they now tell 42.  Online rating and ranking can ruin you if you rush into the global market with your eyes closed.  And consider that by extending your reach globally, you may be reducing the dependence on established markets in your area, so you may meet with push-back and criticism locally.

10 Bonus Points – The (not so) small stuff really matters 

  1. Protect your proprietary information
  2. Inventory management is more important than ever
  3. Many cultures are raised not to say “no”, so yes and no questions should be avoided and you should probably never say “no” either
  4. Offering to connect during odd hours is your responsbility
  5. If you are web-based, network latency (moving data delays) is the enemy
  6. Exclamation points may erode your validity!
  7. The short answer is almost never the best answer and patience is definitely a virtue
  8. Know ahead of time, what your perceived value-added offerings and activities will be 
  9. Explore how you can re-engineer your offerings to meet different market demands
  10. Determine how you will evaluate/recognize your success or failure.

 Better get a go-go on global… NOW!

 

About Leslie

Spas2b Inc. is a full service Spa Development company, specializing in Online Spa Management Distance Learning Courses, Spa Business Manual Instant Downloads & Resources, and Spa Consulting Services.
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