Going global is one of the most challenging things that a business can do, and it’s why we so rarely see it happen in practice. International companies have to contend with geographical barriers, language issues, culture clashes, regulations and unfriendly governments to mention just a few.
So the question is, how can a business work internationally and generate the large returns that a truly global operation brings? Let’s take a look at what some of those that did it have to say.
Get An Early Start
Allen Adamson is the managing director of a marketing firm called Landor and the author of a book entitled BrandSimple. His advice to young upstarts is to think globally as early as possible. The quicker you start doing business internationally, he says, the faster you’ll be able to work out what is working on the international scene and what isn’t.
Study The Market
It’s also a good idea, according to Adamson, to study the market before moving abroad. Who are the big players? What are they getting right? What are they doing wrong? What products are missing in your target market? How easy is it for foreign companies to set up? Are there options for a high risk merchant account to make international payments? According to Adamson, the Department of Commerce website is a good place to start for those who want to find out more about a particular target country.
Assess Your Brand
One of the things that people with international businesses talk about all the time is segmenting the market. But what does this actually mean when it comes to your brand? It turns out that customers in foreign companies might not know what “Ebay” or “Netflix” means because they haven’t had significant exposure to these brands. Thus, one of the things that international businesses do is make a point of re-explaining to local audiences what their product offers. In other words, they don’t just assume consumers in foreign markets are as educated about their product as consumers in the domestic market.
The other thing that they do is think about how their brand is perceived. An image of a crown in China means something entirely different to the same image of a crown in the US. Experts, like Adamson, say that it’s important that companies think through what brand image they are trying to portray, and how culturally specific icons can influence how they are perceived.
Hire A Local Guide
It’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting when you visit a foreign country. But with linguistic and cultural barriers getting in the way, knowing exactly where your business is headed can be a challenge. That’s why top international business people recommend that company managers and investors hire a guide. A guide, according to Marc David Miller, a managing director at a business consulting firm, can help interpret everything from simple conversations to complex business deals. You can pay anywhere from $20 a day to $80 an hour he says, depending on the level of skill and the country.