With the expansion of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, eBay, Yandex, Baidu, Naver, Alibaba and Yahoo – to name just a few – the world is moving at break neck speed into the digital age. But there is a very good reason why this is happening – and for exporters in particular, its very much a positive development – at least it is if you are on board!
Online digital marketing is increasingly reaching a large audience. In the past, we used to describe the rapid growth of digital marketing in terms of internet connected populations – but today we won’t waste time on the statistics since almost everyone is, or soon will be, connected to the web. If you’re an exporter targeting businesses to buy your product, they’re all basically online somehow. If you’re targeting consumers globally – you might have to be a little more circumspect about some markets – but that list is getting so much shorter it too will soon be an irrelevance.
Now forgive me for saying this, dear export world, but don’t you have a reputation for being a little traditional and slower to react than other newer sectors? But you should now be truly waking up to this new opportunity because digital could have been purpose designed for exporters.
To begin with, exporters frequently have a highly centralised structure – often only later expanding into other countries with actual physical offices. Online digital marketing fits into this model extremely well. In fact, search marketing including pay per click and search engine optimisation, work best when centralised in most cases.
Traditionally, exporter marketers have looked to partner with agents and distributors around the world – so the function of online marketing may be to recruit those supports in individual markets who then in turn would adopt online marketing techniques to find the actual customers.
But this is a sector which is ripe for some disintermediation too. That’s “cutting out the middle man” to me and you. So how would you go about reaching your target customers without “local” support?
You Need Local Support Right?
Well firstly, you would want to recruit your own “local” support but that is essentially a marketing agency or an employee which speaks the local lingo – however now you can base them at headquarters. If you’re worried about timezones, then yes you might want to establish a regional hub for your business, but again using your own staff?
The next step is to analyse which markets offer the greatest potential to expand your business. Here, you can spend an awful lot of money on market research – or alternately you could cut some corners by undertaking a little test marketing.
Google, Yandex, Baidu, Naver and Seznam all run “pay per click” advertising campaigns which means you can translate some of the content on your website and then target a list of candidate markets and see which works. You might have pre-selected these candidate markets by undertaking keyword research first before you even invested any real cash into test marketing – enhancing your ability to move quickly to attractive regions of the world.
Once you’ve established which are your core development markets, you can start to ramp up the effort knowing it will be successful. This might include undertaking on the ground market research of your target customers, adding more appropriate content to your website to become more relevant to your customer needs and then targeting your customers even more relevantly with the power of SEO or Social Media Techniques.
It really is possible to export, more quickly and more easily than ever before – provided you have the product, the legislation, the logistics and the support well covered too. Simple!