7 tips for successful global expansion

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The international business market is filled with exciting opportunities for companies to seize.

No matter which sector you are in, there is no single product or service that doesn’t have a global feature in at least one of its supply chain components; the chance to reach out to new profitable markets and clients has never been greater.

Companies often begin their internationalization journey by exporting first, and here are some of the best tips to smoothen your global expansion.

Plan in stages

While your timescale, budget, size of your company, and goals will inevitably impact your business expansion, your strategy should be grounded on the stage of market expansion you are in.

For example, just exporting, licensing, franchising, or forming strategic partnerships will require a completely different strategic approach compared to whether you are going through a merger or an acquisition, or setting up wholly-owned subsidiaries abroad.

Whatever stage of expansion you are in, it’s key to establish definite goals for the company, as they will help you to:

  • Facilitate direction and purpose for the short, mid, and long term
  • Devise effective marketing and sales strategies
  • Determine the course of action for your products or services.

Me-Too products are unlikely to work in mature market

Receiving international orders is inspiring, but not every product sold online will necessarily perform well when in a new market. Companies have to ensure that their products or services can be sold extensively with or without adapting the product, and the earlier on in the process, the better.

Often companies risk setbacks when they enter mature international markets with a “me-too” product. Without a strong, unique selling proposition or differentiator from local suppliers’ offerings, you run the risk of competing on price alone, as customers already have established relationships and are committed to known local suppliers. 

Take advantage of outsourcing

Marketing has become more complicated and personalized in the past years, leading to more diverse marketing strategies and multi-channel approaches. Often companies seeking to grow in international markets lack the correct marketing expertise or in-house team to grow their business in another country.

By outsourcing your market entry and expansion to an established global marketing agency, companies gain immediate access to highly qualified talent and simultaneously reduce key marketing activities from the in-house team workload, allowing core activities to enjoy more focus.

Outsourcing is a no-brainer, as it allows companies to do more, faster, and better.

Companies can leave the specialist marketing tasks to the experts who have the knowledge and skills to win you new business, develop client relationships, and take your company to the top.

Due diligence part 1: Market research & marketing strategy

Marketing is the ‘make or break’ of your globalization process, yet neglecting due diligence is a mistake even large companies sometimes make.

Market research should give you a grasp of your industry and the present state of your target market, assist you in recognizing chances and obstacles and give you a taste of the local culture. The correct marketing strategy and execution assure your global expansion success. An outsourced marketing solution is often preferable when you don’t have the in-house capabilities

Due diligence part 2: The legal stuff

Being legally and financially prepared is the most complex part of your global expansion journey. Another aspect is recognizing that every country has different regulations, and adhering to each requirement faithfully can prevent many future litigation headaches.

Some countries have a reputation for being highly litigious. Having solid legal processes in place can mitigate preventable commercial risks. Governmental agencies also have rigid regulations needing all legal documentation prepared and ready before you’re allowed to operate within the company.                            

Partner up to grow faster

Top advice for global expansion is to find a partner you trust and who has the necessary experience to match. It’s key not just to look for basic advice in marketing but instead to select a reliable partner who has worked through multiple international marketing strategies, execution, and product launches, as they will be critical to a successful global business.   

Before committing to any contracts, ensure that your due diligence is done. Traits to pay attention to are a diverse and impressive client portfolio reflecting your business industry, positive reviews from their clients, a competitive quotation for their services, and prompt and attentive customer support. Contemplate implementing a trial period with your chosen partners to assess their collaboration with your business before making a commitment to an extended professional relationship.  

The 5x time rule

It will take 5 x more time and investment than you expected. Local laws, culture, work practices, infrastructure, labor capacity, and other host country realities can be very different.

Bridging the gap between your company and the market is vital, as well as drafting a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy – a constructive and essential tool to limit misinterpretation and achieve success.           

Anna StellaAbout the author

Anna Stella is a two-time national award-winning marketing expert, academic researcher, and CEO of the global marketing outsourcing agency BBSA, Anna has 20+ years of experience within the B2B, B2C, and non-profit industries and is currently completing a Doctorate of Marketing in Marketing Outsourcing at Strathclyde University. For more information visit www.bbsa-marketing.com