Next week I’ll be speaking at the Search Engine Strategies Chicago panel, “New Exporters: How Search Marketing Can Be Used to Build Overseas Trade” panel at the Search Engine Strategies conference at the Hilton hotel in Chicago. This is a first time panel and represents an exciting new approach from the people at Incisive who run the conferences. I’m particularly excited about it, both because it results from a suggestion I made to the Search Engine Strategies team – but also because I’m hoping that the audience will find the topic to be illuminating, no longer about vague global statistics, but something they can go back to their offices and immediately put into practice in some form or other.
The idea is that whilst agencies like WebCertain, typically generate most of their business from large global players who already have a presence in many global markets and a website in 20+ languages, there is an relatively unexplored opportunity for many small and medium businesses to dramatically re-shape and expand their business by tapping into markets overseas.
Search Engines provided many of the tools you need to start exporting. They enable relatively quick and easy systems to check what levels of demand might be present in which markets for your product or service. They provide advertising and promotional mechanisms which enable potential customers to come across your product or service. And sites such as Ebay, Amazon or Alibaba presents methods whereby you can establish direct contact and makes sales.
Of course, there are still challenges for exporters to deliver their product successfully to customers overseas – one of which is logistics. If your product is small and isn’t likely to generate returns – such as in the fashion industry where customers want to try things on and may want to send them back – then you can use postal systems to deliver your product. If what you’re selling is software, information or tickets – then you won’t even have these distribution problems. But if what you’re selling is multi-million dollar 30-storey high cranes which need 3 ships and a man with a flag to transport them – then your logistics are going to be tougher, though in this last case, you’d still need to find your customer cost-effectively, probably visit and the sales value of the product is likely to make the transport cost less of an issue.
Actually getting paid is more difficult. This is particularly the case for small ticket items – but for these you can often use website mechanisms to take payments – but you do have to choose the right ones. Again, if it’s a multi-million pound project, you’ll happily send a man on a bike with a bucket with which to carry the cash – so the problem goes away.
The panel is moderated by long time international search marketing expert, Bill Hunt. Speakers include Jim Matheson of Success Factors, Japanese specialist Motoko Hunt of AJPR, Guillaume Bouchard of NVI and obviously me.
In the meantime, I’d like to invite everyone who’s interested in export and can make it to Chicago next week to join the session. If you haven’t done so already – the booking form is at: