FIVE STEPS TO SUCCESSED IN INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Prof Enelli Murali Darshan MBA CCEM CCITL EMIT PhD Former Faculty member Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (ministry of commerce Govt. of INDIA ),JNTU-H, National institute of pharmaceutical education and research (NIPER-H)
For small and medium sized enterprises in the business or professional services industry, expanding to a foreign market can be a daunting proposition. Many such companies limit their growth by not taking the chance, while others proceed with insufficient preparation and then wonder why they didn’t succeed. The following is a brief outline of the key steps that should be undertaken prior to launching into an international venture, and some of the issues to consider.
Step 1: Market Overview
Determine which country or countries have a viable market of sufficient size for your services. If more than one location is being considered, determine which location to target first. A wise service exporter will move on to other markets only after success has been achieved in the first location. Even if only one country is being considered as a potential market, it may be necessary to target a particular region to narrow down the focus of the market research. Instead of simply following the easiest and/or most popular export route, consideration should be given to less likely regions, as untapped opportunities may exist there.
Avoid becoming an exporter by default. Many international expansion decisions are based on a contract “landing in your lap”. Just because one client from a particular country approached your company and has a need for your services, it does not mean that the entire market should necessarily be targeted without having undertaken any additional research and analysis. The client in question may not be representative of the target market, therefore due diligence is still warranted.
Step 2: Market Analysis
Ensure all aspects of the market are covered. These should include: the market’s response to your service, competitive intelligence, the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on fees charged and costs incurred, and consultation with local professionals on local laws and regulations.
Be prepared to adapt your services for the needs of the targeted market, as well as meet the increased demand that the new market will create. Prepare for cultural differences, both from the perspective of customer service and also employee and/or partner relations. Do not assume there are no cultural differences simply because English is spoken. Also keep in mind there may be regional sensitivities within the target market.
It is important to visit the potential market and build relationships through face-to-face meetings, as well as to talk to other companies that have succeeded at exporting their business services to the area. Most importantly, be prepared for the financial and time commitment of the venture to be greater than anticipated
Step 3: Market Entry
There are various options available when entering a new market as a business services provider, these include: opening a full branch office, opening a sales or representative office only, operating through an agent, entering a partnering agreement with a complementary business, forming a joint venture, or acquiring a competitor.
The advantages and disadvantages of each path should be analyzed. This would entail considering the need for positioning the business name or brand versus the cost efficiency of entry into the market through a partner or agent, market share versus profit goals, and the viability of entering the market in stages by working through an agent or sales office to test the market prior to opening a full branch office.
Step 4: Marketing/Business Plans
Form a market entry strategy based on the information obtained in the previous steps. A Business Plan or Strategic Intent should be prepared at the beginning of the new venture even if there is no necessity for financing. Prepare a detailed monthly marketing plan, especially if there is no local partner involved whose marketing strategy can encompass both parties. As a business services provider, which usually entails marketing intangibles, this will be vital to the success of the operation, and should focus on image building, and establishing credibility and relationships.
Consider diversifying your services or service delivery to better meet the needs of the target market. Also take into account any cross-cultural issues, and translate and localize all marketing material including websites. To avoid making mistakes in this area, engage the services of a local PR firm, advertising agency or other required expertise.
Step 5: Start-up of Operation
If the Business Plan includes opening a branch office, ensure that all local laws and regulations are understood prior to setting up systems or hiring employees. Accountants and lawyers familiar with the local requirements should have been consulted during the market study stage, and should now be engaged to assist with start-up.
Adapt any systems already in place to work cross-culturally. The challenge lies in succeeding with this adaptation without losing sight of your company’s core values and culture.
Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of transferring staff versus hiring local people for key positions. This can be crucial to the success of the venture and should be closely monitored.
Ensure there is smooth communication between offices and with partners. To avoid the risk of miscommunication, translate all pertinent information into the local language even if English is understood by all parties.
It is essential to make a long-term commitment to the new market. Always keep in mind that this new venture may require more perseverance than originally anticipated. But ultimately, the most important point to remember may be the old adage:
“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”
DR DARSHAN’S MESSAGE
FOR THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
Doing business in the global marketplace requires exhibiting overseas. Participating in international shows helps establish your company’s presence as a global player, and is perhaps the single most valuable tool in forging new, valuable relationships with your foreign counterparts.
But there is an element of risk in international exhibiting. While the United States enjoys a relatively high level of political stability, the same is not true around the world. Riots happen, terrorism happens, strikes happen, even natural disasters happen. Obviously, these events can not be predicted, but there are certainly things you can do to minimize your company’s exposure to risk. It is not realistic to simply avoid any location that might be potentially dangerous. One must weigh the perceived risk against the possible rewards and make a reasoned judgement call. To do that, use the MAP formula:
M: Maintain Awareness: Keep abreast of current events in your destination country. The media can be your ally in this task, although it is good to remember that the camera crews don’t arrive until there is something to film. A crisis may have been brewing for a while before something sets it off – and you want to be aware of what’s brewing.
Pay attention to local media. Do not rely solely on American television or print media to give you a perspective on what’s happening. You’ll get a clearer, more authentic version of events from either the country itself or that of nearby neighbors. Getting accurate information out of some countries is notoriously difficult – former Soviet Bloc countries, China, Korea, and some African dictatorships for example – so you’ll be forced to be more proactive in your research.
Additionally, the State Department regularly issues reports updating conditions in various locations for Americans abroad. They will also, when conditions merit, urge travelers to leave or avoid a particular destination. Make sure you check this information regularly, and take any warnings issued by the Government extremely seriously.
A: Ally Yourself: Partner with local vendors, suppliers, and customers. These people will be your eyes and ears on the ground in your destination country. After all, they live there every day, and will have valuable first hand knowledge of what is going on. This can be more valuable than any information gleaned from news reports, as local residents will be able to place things in perspective. They’ll know if the rumblings between Faction A and Faction B are elevated or are just at a regular level but in the spotlight.
While it is important to view media skeptically, as they have a tendency toward sensationalism, it is also important not to rely too much on the advice of any one foreign ally. Some cultures are structured in such a way that people will go to elaborate lengths to avoid saying “no” or having to deliver unpleasant news. This can be misleading, and give you the impression that things are perhaps better than they really are.
One last caveat: The majority of your allies have a financial stake in your show participation. Remember that they will be making judgements and giving advice with one eye on their own interests. Additionally, they may assess risk differently. People who live with the daily threat of car bombs and drive-by shootings learn to take these things in stride, while a visitor may find themselves terrified. That is why it is important to combine your allies’ reports with objective media information.
Have your allies brief you on the area before you arrive. Where are the ‘safe’ areas, and what sections of town are to be avoided? Are there local customs that you need to know? There can be regional differences within a country – metropolitan areas may be far more liberal than the rural countryside. You want your people to fit in as much as possible. Being noticed on the show floor is a good thing – being noticed as a potential target by an angry crowd outside, not so much.
P: Plan: Have a ‘worst-case scenario’ plan in place. Where will you go if the convention center is attacked? It is prudent to have an off-site go-to spot designated, even if you’ll never use it. Airports, municipal buildings, embassies or an unaffiliated hotel are all good choices for this task. Decide on a meeting spot to regroup if your party gets seperated during chaotic events.
Each member of your team should have their own travel documents with them at all times. Make sure everyone has everyone else’s contact information. A phone list may seem like one more bit of paper to manage, but it could come in invaluable if one or more individuals gets lost.
Have a code of behavior in place for your booth staff. Now, more than ever, they are acting as your company’s ambassadors. People are often highly aware of the strangers in their midst – who they are, and how they conduct themselves. It’s tempting to kick up your heels and have a wild time, especially in a strange, exotic locale – but acting like the ‘Ugly American’ can be bad for business. Worse, wild times can have fatal results. Visitors who are obviously out of their element – and intoxicated – are easy pickings for the criminal element that lurks in every city.
Using the MAP formula doesn’t ensure that nothing bad will ever happen. However, it will help your team be prepared for what might happen during your next overseas exhibit.
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. Trade Show Marketing by “The Trade Show Coach” – Susan Friedmann, CSP. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail: email@example.com;
DR MURALI DARSHAN COLOMN
The World Map of the world today is very different form the map of the world only two or three decades ago. In the last decade alone the political and geographical boundaries have changed tremendously the geographical boundaries are no longer rigid, communism as a political system has fallen.
There are no more closed societies Eastern Europe once behind iron curtain and in accessible to the outside world is now joined hands with Eastern Europe for common economic growth.
China is becoming a market economy, thus opening doors for foreign companies specially American companies to open officeies and industries there, India bound by the socialistic economic philosophy for four decades in now openly inviting American, European companies for joint ventures with Indian companies.
The modern extent of Telecommunications, easy in travel and understanding tolerance and respect for diversity has made the worlds into one global community this means that the world is getting smaller and each part of the world is getting closer to the other people, Technology, capital goods and services are crossing international borders as if there were no borders. This has given rise to the pursuit of organizational objectives in an international setting, transcending the boundaries of nationalism, political preferences and cultural diversity. In effect, we have been a part of a global village and have a global economy, where no organization is insulated and all most every major organization has to deal with foreign markets and foreign competition more and more firms are viewing themselves as multinational businesses for example pre war Japan was never a threat to the economy. Japan was known for cheep and non quality products, which changed considerably after the war, now Japan has become the competitor so much so that even Americans are preferring Japanese products. You cannot think of a camera a Television, a VCR or even a car without associating these items with Japan. The largest number of any one car selling in America is the Japanese Honda Accord. Most American buy Sony TV Panasonic VCR, SEIKO Watch, Minolta camera and so on which are all Japanese products.
Our daily lives are strongly influenced by business from around the world, we probably drive a Japanese Car, Wear Italian shoes, wear suits made in Romania, Shirts made in Korea, drink coffee imported Brazil or Columbia or use a Toshiba Laptop for our business activities.
Our major industries have in deed become International and according to Stephen Kobrin even the biggest companies in the biggest countries cannot survive in their domestic markets if they are in global industries they have to be in all major markets. This impact is seen by the fact that people in Germany drive Fords, use UBM mainframe computers in Japan, eat McDonald’s Hamburger in France and drink Pepsi-Cola in China. Coca-cola was a major soft drink in India until political forced in out. Air Indian buys its Jets from Boeing in America and most middle east countries use Indian construction companies to build their buildings and so on.