As consumers, we’re benefit obsessed. We’re always on the lookout for products and services that deliver the most bang for our buck. Whether it’s better prices, an improved service or the ability to respond to the specific needs of individual customers, small businesses hold all the cards they need to trump national players in the local market.
But what happens when small businesses harbour lofty ambitions in markets overseas? Can they ever hope to get one over on the global players? Small businesses don’t have the luxury of massive advertising budgets, large teams of developers, marketers and sales staff, or any of the economies of scale associated with global corporations.
However, in the world of international business, bigger is not always better, and as the world moves into the increasingly faceless digital age, consumers still value the unique, personalised experiences small organisations provide.
So, if you’re a small business, here are a few tips to help you make an indelible mark on markets overseas…
Create a localised plan
There are plenty of examples of large brands entering new markets without properly planned international expansion programmes. Groupon made this mistake in 2011, when they entered the Chinese market with a westernised management team who had no previous experience working in China.
Small businesses are perfectly equipped to evolve their plan to capitalise on opportunities or sidestep potential threats. Large, sprawling organisations are slower to adapt to market conditions, and any mistakes in their initial planning can take a long time to correct.
Collaborate with local firms
One unassailable weapon in the global business’ arsenal is the ability to access the resources they need to succeed in overseas markets. Small businesses simply cannot compete with this level of investment.
However, smaller businesses can bypass this resource restriction by developing mutually beneficial partnerships with local companies. This enables smaller businesses to share resources such as office space and other infrastructure, while benefiting from the native company’s innate understanding of market conditions and culture.
Personalise your messages
Regardless of the culture of the country you are moving into, customers always respond more positively to messages that are personalised to target their particular market. Personalised messages play an important part in generating brand awareness, customer loyalty and retention rates. It’s all about hitting the right customer with the right message. To achieve this, market research is essential.
Large brands often rely on automated tools to generate their marketing messages, sometimes with disastrous results. One example occurred just last year, when Amazon suggested UK customers browsing balaclavas might also be interested in their comprehensive selection of baseball bats!
Make a mark with social
Even successful brands can be daunted by the prospect of starting afresh in new markets around the world. Thankfully, social media is an effective method of dipping your toe in the water, allowing you to establish a potential market before you physically set foot in another country.
As always, gaining leverage in a foreign market through social media will rely on the localisation of your social media page and all of your updates. For your activity to be deemed authentic, you should either hire community managers who speak the local lingo, or work with a translation agency that employs mother tongue translators capable of recreating posts in the colloquialisms native to that culture.
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