10 tips for starting out in international online trade
1. Leverage existing clients’ connections
Are any of your clients international? Can you leverage a relationship to get an introduction? The implicit trust of a referral is powerful when trying to establish contacts in a new market.
2. Use multilingual web pages to attract an audience
A professionally translated website or microsite that pays attention to local language and culture will draw interest and enquiries from potential customers, and help to achieve clear communication.
3. Use a video demo
If a picture says a thousand words then a video can convey a million. Well scripted videos that demonstrate your product or service will drive traffic to your website, and increase conversions. Outline in a straightforward manner how your product or service solves a problem by explaining Why, What and How. Videos can also be easily shared, emailed and commented on, gaining you extra SEO mileage for your investment in creating this content.
4. Recruit, train and manage local partners
Your basic web presence can attract applications from distributors and agents and encourage industry contacts to engage with your brand. These can then be collated for you to market to and develop whenever you are ready.
5. Visit trade shows and industry events
Try to visit the target market regularly. Keeping in touch with connections you are developing is important, as is showing that you are active in that market. In many cultures, people are very reluctant to do busines with anyone they have not met face-to-face.
6. Make use of available support and funding
The Institute of Export and UKTI are good sources of advice, and can direct you towards additional sources of funding and information. Schemes such as the UKTI’s government subsidised Overseas Market Introduction Service can be a great way of getting some initial introductions in your new market. Using the British embassy or consulate as a venue for your meetings is also a great way to make a good impression.
7. Provide the local agent with marketing material support
Providing the collateral gives you control over your brand and message. Don’t ask an agent to do this for you as it won’t be your IP and you want to rely on them for their contacts not their language skills.
8. Run a Pilot
Set up a pilot project to test the market – you can do this easily by creating a microsite for each target market. The internet helps to overcome geographical and language barriers, making it easier to trade internationally. Ecommerce is global!
9. Take a long-term view
Some markets are slower to mature than others. You may find that getting a return on your investment takes time – but it will be worth the wait.
10. Share regular updates
A blog is the most efficient means of posting news about your international growth plans and business development, an email tool can then syndicate this content into a newsletter to keep people regularly informed. Social Media will then help to take your message further.