Edwin e. Bobrow
Most overseas and American companies do under 10 million dollars in annual sales volume. Large companies (usually over 100 million dollars in annual volume) tend to already have established strong alliances in the world market. Even if they have not, they usually will have the resources to enter overseas markets more easily than small and mid-size companies. However, any company opening new markets overseas depends upon finding foreign companies to work with that best match their goals.
Rather than approaching the overseas market strategically, many small and medium sized companies have a tendency to contact anyone who will give an immediate order. In the long run, without a well planned marketing approach, your sales will have neither long lasting market penetration nor the dollar volume that makes the cost of doing business overseas worthwhile.
The three most important steps to a planned approach are:
#1: KNOW YOUR GOALS.
The goals of your parent company, if you have one, and those of your own company should be the guide toward which you work. General goals -- to make a lot of money, to sell as much as I can, etc. -- are not specific enough. To set goals is a process. It must take into account your strengths and weaknesses, market and government opportunities and threats, as well as your hopes and dreams. From a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) you will begin to see how realistic your goals really are. This analysis should involve an internal audit, which is an analysis of your company from the inside. It should also include an external audit, which is an analysis of the marketplace.
#2: SET STRATEGIES -- THE MEANS YOU WILL UTILIZE TO OBTAIN YOUR GOAL.
Strategies have to be realistic. They must be based on your resources, knowledge of your company's capabilities, and your objective in the marketplace.
#3: INSTALL A SYSTEM TO MEASURE SUCCESS OR FAILURE.
Agree ahead of time what resources you will commit and exactly what you consider to be success.
Very often little attention is given by the company to documenting their position or to offering a well reasoned, customer-oriented program. Companies don't want to look at what the customers' needs are, let alone try to satisfy them. Their position usually is: "First, let them buy from me, then I'll make changes and do what they say they need." This will seldom work unless your company is in the unique position of having an unusual selling proposition, innovative products, a new invention, an unusual marketing program, or very, very low prices.
To sell the overseas market you must keep in mind that the markets are different, the culture is different, the distribution systems are usually different, etc. To help you satisfy the needs of the market within the target country, ask yourself the following questions:
What are the customs and practices within each country?
Is a special kind of planning required to sell the market?
How will you gain a true understanding of the markets you wish to sell?
Can you do a realistic appraisal of how much money it will take?
How will you learn what is truly perceived as different, better, or unique about what you are offering to the people within the target market?
Can you develop "Overseas Empathy"?
Can you search for the truth of the marketplace and not just listen to what you want to hear?
Will you be able to develop a plan to market within the targeted Overseas Markets, including all the basic marketing devices that the Overseas Markets require and have come to expect?
Can you satisfy the five "P's" of successful marketing taught in every basic marketing course -- Product, Promotion, Price, Place, and Profit?
Will you offer programs and systems the overseas companies want, rather than just products?
Do you need professional help?
Many companies will commission research of a foreign market with little or no thought to their ability and long-term willingness to commit the resources to establish that market. What good is spending $10,000 for research if you haven't got the (continued on page 2)