1. Find and expand into new geographical markets for an existing product. This is the simplest and quickest strategy to grow your business. It requires minimal investment with infrequent and either direct or indirect exporting, and little planning of market development. Exporting is a common growth tactic for both mature international companies as well as smaller companies. This market entry strategy contributes to the revenue stream and profitability of an increasing number of enterprises.
2. Tap and penetrate emerging markets. We cannot wait for big emerging markets like India and China to grow up. The work should begin now to take advantage of opportunities presented by rapidly developing economies and to ensure that we are ready to reap the rewards when these markets explode.
3. Source new products that complement existing ones and offer them as a new, specially priced package deal. This should be a snap by surfing ThomasNet.com (http://www.thomasnet.com/), Alibaba.com (http://www.alibaba.com) and GlobalSources.com (http://www.globalsources.com), which provide a wealth of information on potential manufacturers.
4. Reduce dependence on existing markets. Protect your company against the risk of decline in domestic sales by exporting, using the Internet, licensing or franchising your industrial products.
5. Develop new applications for existing products that can be offered to new buyers. Here’s where a few months of actually living in a foreign country really pays off. It enables you to learn firsthand how the locals do things and what they need to do them better.
Perhaps a favorite food dish in China could be made better and or more quickly if you changed the speed of a kitchen mixer. Or maybe reconfiguring an existing vacuum attachment would be perfect for some out-of-the-way corners in Sri Lanka. Before you set out to do business in a particular country, ask some simple questions. How do the people there like to spend their time? What are their favorite gadgets? How do they clean their homes or cars? How are their clothes laundered? If you can’t travel there, the information-gathering strategies outlined above should give you some answers.
Think beyond the everyday uses of things as well as cultural constraints and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that arise.
6. Cross fertilize your marketing efforts through a variety of industries. For piano wire, market coverage should pollinate over into the sporting goods (fishing), movie and soap and detergent industries to reach new and appropriate buyers and to broaden the scope of your business activities.
7. Take the market to your buyers. If you can’t beat or woo them, join them where they are located by setting up shop locally in the country in which you wish to do business. Are you making bicycles spokes and trying to sell them in a country without bikes? Then you better ship a sampling of finished bikes first, educate the consumers, find a small manufacturer and then secure buyers for those spokes!
8. Offer new services that complement your industrial products in order to boost profits. This segment of marketing involves all countries at every level of development; even the least-developed countries are seeking computer technology (China and India, for example) and sophisticated data banks to aid them in advancing their economics.
9. Move more production of subassemblies and parts to cheaper offshore factories. That’s what Hoveround Corp., maker of motorized wheelchairs and scooters in Sarasota, Florida did. The problem they ran up against was set prices by fee structures for Medicaid and by contracts with large insurers. By moving production outside of the USA, the company has consistently widened profit margins slightly each year.
10. Establish a strategic global alliance (SGA). An SGA is a business relationship established by two or more companies to cooperate out of mutual need and to share risk in achieving a common objective. This strategy works well for market-entry or to shore up existing weaknesses and increase competitive strengths.
11. Globalize your business by forming worldwide product groups by function. Your design can be done in California; your manufacturing can take place in China and your distribution might start in Antwerp. Together, you have a powerful global network.
12. Form joint-ventures in places where you desire to do business. For example, many years ago, JCPenny had developed three alternatives for implementation in global markets: (1) owning and operating JCPenny department stores, (2) licensing for forming joint ventures with local partners, and (3) exporting private-brand merchandise to be sold through other retailers. Since then, the Internet has fostered another alternative for growth.
13. Market your business aggressively and in the language your buyers understand. For example, if you make one style of an electrical component, what happens if the market changes and your buyers no longer need your particular type of component or they learn how to source it cheaper elsewhere and on their own? In a case like that, it is best to supply many grades, more styles and more types of electrical components to ensure at least one product will always be in demand.
Global competition requires quality products designed to meet ever-changing customer needs and rapidly advancing technology. Develop your global strategy. Refine your international business practices. And discover every imaginable hidden market for your products and services. You will transform your business and take the lead in the world of expanding customer choices.
Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com and LaurelDelaney.com. She is also the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter and The Global Small Business Blog, which are both highly regarded for coverage on global small business. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.