International Marketing and Market Entry

International Marketing and Market Entry

Are you lucky enough to have conquered the domestic market? Thinking about going global, taking over the world? Before you embark on world domination, have a quick read of our beginners guide to international marketing and market entry.

Here at marketing.com.au, we find that a good old pros and cons list can be very helpful when making these big life decisions. Sometimes, you just need to simplify the situation. So, we’ve put together our own pros and cons list for international expansion.

Pros:

  • Some international markets present better profit opportunities than the domestic market
  • A bigger customer base will enable us to achieve better economies of scale
  • We will reduce our dependence on any one market
  • We will be able to counterattack some of the big, global competitors in their home markets
  • Our customers often travel abroad and require international service / presence

Cons:

  • We may not understand foreign preference fully and could fail to offer a competitively attractive product.
  • We may not fully understand the international business culture
  • We might underestimate foreign regulations and incur unexpected costs
  • We may lack managers with international experience
  • The international markets that we enter might change their commercial laws or devalue their currency or implement any number of other economic changes

The main point is, if you decide to expand into international markets, you must ensure that your products and marketing activities are consistent with the local market and local sensibilities. The best way to do this is to undertake in-depth research and analysis before committing resources to international expansion. You should research foreign culture, regulations and costs. It is also a good idea to recruit managers with international experience or to train your existing managers. This market research, recruitment and training all needs to be considered in the budget and needs to be weighed against increased profit and improved opportunities economies of scale.

So, if you’ve decided to embark on international expansion, the next decision will be which mode of entry to go with. There are five modes. We’ll go through each one in detail for you now.

  1. Indirect exporting: Usually, companies start off with indirect exporting. This involves working through an independent intermediary: domestic-based export agents buy your products and then sell them internationally, for a commission of course. Indirect exporting has two key advantages. Firstly, there is much less up-front investment required; you won’t have to develop an export department, an overseas sales force or international contacts. Secondly, there is much less risk; domestic-based export agents already have the local know-how and networks.
  2. Direct exporting: Alternatively, you might decide to handle your own exporting. Obviously, the investment and the risks are greater, but so is the potential return. There are a number of direct exporting models: domestic-based export department; overseas sales branch or subsidiary; travelling export sales representatives; and foreign-based distributers or agents. Many companies use indirect or direct exporting (or a combination of both) to test the waters before building a plant and manufacturing their products overseas.
  3. Licensing: This is the simplest way to establish a presence in an international market. If you go with this mode of entry, you would issue a licence to a foreign company to use your manufacturing process, or trademark, or trade secret for a royalty fee. You gain international market entry at little risk and the licensee gains the production expertise for a well-known product or brand. There are some obvious disadvantages though. You will have little control than over the production and sales facilities for your own product. Also, it means that you have surrendered the rights to profits and, if the licensing contract ends, you might find that you have created a competitor. To prevent this, you can supply some proprietary ingredients directly to the licensee (without giving up all your trade secrets). This is what Coke does. But the best strategy is to lead in innovation. That way, the licensee will always depend on you.
  4. Joint Ventures: You could join a local investor in a joint venture company. In this case, you would share ownership and control with the local investor. This mode of entry is popular in emerging markets, like China and India. A joint venture might be desirable for economic or political reasons. You might not have the financial, physical or managerial resources to undertake the venture alone (but the local investor does), or the foreign government may require joint ownership as a condition of entry. There are some drawbacks to joint ventures though. Partners might not always see eye-to-eye.
  5. Direct Investment: This is the ultimate form of foreign involvement. In this case you would buy part or full interest in a local company or build your own manufacturing (or service) facilities. If the market is large enough, direct investment has a wide range of advantages. First of all, you will secure cost economies, government incentives and freight savings. Secondly, your image in the host country will be strengthened because you are creating jobs. Third, you will strengthen relationships with government, customers, suppliers and distributors. This will enable you to better adapt your products to the local environment. Fourth, you retain full control over investment. With so many potential gains, you obviously open yourself up to an equal number of risks.
Thanks to Sally for sharing these great tips and insights with us on international marketing and market entry.

 

 

Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: SWOT Analysis

Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: SWOT Analysis

I know, I know. You’ve been waiting with bated breath all week for the next riveting instalment in our core marketing concepts series. Well, take a breath. There’s no need to wait any longer; it’s here! Today we are going to take a sneak peak at the concept of SWOT analysis (Note: this should in no way be confused with the burly-looking SWAT teams that arrive in full body armour in all American action film produced in the last 20-odd years).

SWOT analysis is a means by which to monitor both the internal and external marketing environments of a company, a person, a product, a place or even a whole industry. It is a structured planning process used to evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats:

  • Strengths: characteristics of a company that give it an advantage over competitors
  • Weaknesses: characteristics of a company that place it at a disadvantage to competitors
  • Opportunities: elements that a company can exploit to its advantage (increasing profitability)
  • Threats: elements that may cause challenges for a company (decreasing profitability)

Internal Environment (Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis)

It is one thing to be able to find attractive business opportunities, but quite another to be able to capitalise on them. To capitalise on available opportunities, a company must be self-aware; every company needs to evaluate both its internal strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated in a number of ways. A simple checklist (including items like reputation, market share, customer and employee satisfaction and retention, product quality, service quality, pricing effectiveness, distribution effectiveness and financial stability) can be quite effective, if the company (or the company’s owner or marketing team) can be objective and realistic.

A company does not need to correct all its weaknesses, nor gloat about its strengths. The big question is whether it should limit itself to those opportunities for which it already possesses the required strengths, or consider those opportunities that require new (or at the very least improved) strengths.

External Environment (Opportunity and Threat Analysis)

More often than not, companies that are ahead of the game monitor key macro-environment forces as well as significant micro-environment factors that may affect its ability to earn profits. This monitoring can be done in any number of ways. You can establish a marketing intelligence system to track trends and industry developments and their related opportunities and threats. You can implement employee and customer surveys. You can undertake competitor analysis. Whatever means of monitoring you go with, the important thing to remember is that good marketing is the art of finding, developing and profiting from the opportunities that arise from macro and micro environmental forces.

But what is a marketing opportunity, I hear you ask. Well, a marketing opportunity is an area of customer need or interest for which a company has a high probability of profiting. There are three main sources of market opportunities:

  • Offer a product that is in short supply: as you might expect, this requires little to no marketing talent; the need is fairly obvious and just waiting to be fulfilled.
  • Supply an existing product or service in a new or superior way: the best way to do this is to ask customers for their suggestions. Get them to image the ideal version of the product or service.
  • Create a brand new product or class of products: companies can use the consumption chain method to do this; customers are asked to outline the steps they usually take in acquiring, using and disposing of a product.

Once an opportunity has been identified, companies must undertake Market Opportunity Analysis (MOA) to determine the likelihood of profitability and success. This can be done by asking questions like:

  1. Can we articulate (convincingly) the benefits of our new and improved product or service to a specific target market(s)?
  2. Can we pinpoint the target market(s) and reach them through cost-effective media, marketing and trade channels?
  3. Do we have (or can we access) the capabilities and resources we need to deliver the customer benefits?
  4. Can we deliver the benefits better than our competitors?
  5. Will the financial return exceed (or at the very least meet) the investment we will need to make?

Now, onto threats a quick definition of threats. (We won’t go into too much detail as we presume you can probably work out what a threat is all on your own!) An environmental threat is a challenge posed by an unfavourable development that (without defensive action) may lead to a drop in sales or profit. Smart, forward-thinking companies will have contingency plans in place to deal with threats. Depending on the nature and size of the company, these plans might range from crisis communication strategies (think ExxonMobil oil spill) to alternate widget suppliers.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for sharing with us Part 3 of this Core Marketing Concept Refresher series. If you missed them, don’t forget to check out Part 1 Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: The Value Chain and Part 2 Core Marketing Concepts Refresher: Two for One.

 

 

Outsourcing Is Not Just For Global Companies

Last week the web was buzzing with news about “Bob” who was caught outsourcing his job to China and paying someone less than a fifth of his salary to get the job done. The interesting insight is that “Bob” had always received amazing performance reviews for his work over the past several years and did not lose his job because of his or his contractor’s quality of work. You don’t need to think that outsourcing is just for US employees who want to watch cat videos like Bob or large financial firms. Even small business should be considering how to use outsourcing to streamline their business activities. I wanted to highlight some of the many platforms available to everyone that allow you to get the largest or smallest tasks outsourced, so you can focus on running your business and starting from $30.

Elance

I have personally found Elance to be easier to use once you get used to it, so I have mostly used Elance for outsourcing tasks but have admitted that it can be a bit of trial and error finding quality suppliers from open proposals. My advice for Elance is to open an invite only project and then manually invite the top 10 outsources from the relevant category or skill set, and I usually select a preference for companies over individuals. I have found the response to project invites to be fairly quick and there are plenty of options around budgets and recommend selecting the fixed cost option.

Freelancer

Based in Australia, Freelancer.com is one of the best known crowdsourcing and outsourcing marketplaces with over $1 billion in projects posted since it opened in 2004. Similar to 99designs, Freelancer.com allows businesses to launch contests to get a range of entries to compete for your project. But looking at the open projects it appears that a majority their projects are still submitted via their standard post a project feature. Their platform is well known for IT & Development freelancing projects but I’ve seen that they have been successfully expanding their freelancers specialising in design, media and content. Unlike the other outsourcing platforms Freelancer.com has built in some gamification into their platform via project badges that freelancers are awarded as they complete more projects, this can be useful to find quality partners.

oDesk

They are marketed as the largest online workplaces in the world with around 350,000 businesses using their outsourcing platform which is supported by their enterprise solutions platform for custom-built programs. oDesk has a smaller and more structured category list than the other platforms as seen below:

  • Web Development
  • Software Development
  • Networking & Information Systems
  • Writing & Translation
  • Administrative Support
  • Design & Multimedia
  • Customer Service
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Business Services

oDesk has a simplified product offering  built around 3 core product offerings:

  • Hire on-demand – build a flexible workforce
  • Manage the work – work-in-progress screenshots, time sheets, daily logs
  • Pay with ease – safe payments with oDesk guarantee

99designs

While mainly known for logo & graphic design, 99designs offers the most unique solution for outsourcing your projects via own “design content” where thousands of designers compete to create your perfect design. The benefit for businesses is multiple designs are submitted for review with a 100% money back guarantee and sometimes dozens or even hundreds of entries. The downside to their platform is the turnaround time is often a little longer to judge multiple entries and await enough entries to make the project viable. They have also launched a “logo” store that allows you to by ready-made logo design templates for just $99 which is great for small hobbyists or one off events you might be running.

CrowdFlower

This platform is focused on giving businesses a on-demand scalable workforce by enabling workers to undertake simple micro tasks. You can think of CrowdFlower as a managed version of Amazon Mechanical Turk where they take some of the risk and hassle out of creating and managing hundreds of workers. Some of the more popular pre-defined tasks are:

  • Customer & Lead Data Enhancement
  • Content Moderation & Curation
  • Better Search Results
  • Content Generation
  • Sentiment & Opinion Analysis
  • Surveys with digital consumers
  • Categorise products, videos, events
  • List Enrichment
  • Build Your Own Crowdsourcing Projects
  • Build Big Custom Solutions

GetACoder

This platform is perfect if you are looking to outsource programing, testing or development tasks. They make it fairly easy to post a task for free and then start to receive bids for your project. You can also search through existing projects to get a guide on prices and projects currently available. Like most platforms they offer the ability to search provider’s profiles from over 234 countries & regions around the world.

Copify

Copify is one the newer content outsourcing platforms and only recently launched into the Australian market. They system is simplified down to 4 steps starting with select of content job type (6 options). The next step is important as they offer two options for writers “standard” or “professional” your selection depends on your budgets and the writing task. The last two steps involve create of brief and payment options. You can usually get a writer to respond within a few hours and usually get a draft within 1-2 days which is much faster than most other platforms I have tried. Copify also offers a WordPress plugin so you can order and publish copy directly from your WordPress dashboard to streamline content production.

Textbroker

Just like Copify the Textbroker platform is best suited to content production tasks and offers support for multiple languages around the world. Their platform is based around a fixed cost model ranging from 2 stars for legible content to 5 stars for professional content writers. They now offer language support for French, German, English (UK), English (US), Spanish & Dutch. They are slowly rolling out niche verticals starting with financial writing services offered as premium. Their platform can be very cost effective for content production but I have found it a bit clunker than Copify for ordering content.

Outsourcing is not for everyone

Like most jobs you are currently doing yourself, it can be a tough decision to give up control but by preparing a decent brief you can get some very specific tasks completed. Another insight I have found is that it’s also easier once you have trialled a few freelancers/outsources is to keep using these known and trusted providers, but always have an eye out for a backup provider should something urgent come up and they are unable to assist. Depending on the task being outsourced you may find that the cost varies but it’s often possible to get far more done far quicker with a decent team of outsourcers.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank David for taking the time to share this with us. If you have any feedback or questions, please let us know below.

 

Using Social Media in the Marketing Mix

In 2011, 80% of businesses in America with over 100 employees will use social media marketing. Compared with two years ago, when only 42% of companies were using social media, this is an enormous change (source eMarketer). As more and more people adopt the use of social media in their daily lives, marketers are being forced to recognise the potential of this communication tool and integrate it into the marketing mix.

Social Media is one of those mysterious (and slightly scary) terms in the world of marketing. When Facebook exploded on the world stage, followed not long after by Twitter, all those ‘slow adopters’ buried their heads in the sand and hoped (or in some cases prayed) that it would quickly evaporate. Surely this was just another passing Gen-Y fad? No such luck.
Social media has changed the way advertising and marketing is rolled out: bombarding customers with endless two-for-the-price-of-one email deals creates short-term leads but does not ensure long-term success. Social media allows two-way communication with potential customers and can generate online conversations about your brand between customers. So how do you integrate social media into your marketing mix? Make social media part of everything you do; social media is more than just another marketing tool.

It would be really easy to just create a Facebook page, update it perhaps once a week (or every other week if I’m busy). That’s social media isn’t it? Not quite. Consumers do not participate in social media so that marketers have another vehicle to deliver their two-for-the-price-of-one spam. Consumers want to communicate with other people, connect with their friends, their family, and gain an insight into the people behind the brand that they know and love. Marketing through social media marketing should enable this connection. It should create an actual, real relationship (and conversation) between the brand and the customer.

We’ll let you in on the secret to social media: draft, discuss and then implement a social media strategy. It can be a component of a marketing strategy or a stand-alone strategy. It’s up to you. But just make sure that you have one.
Choose a couple of key social media vehicles (those most relevant to your customers or audience). There is no need to use every social media vehicle. Unless you have unlimited resources, you will end up spreading yourself thin and doing all social media badly instead of a couple extremely well. There’s no point in having a half-baked blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and RSS feed. You are better off just having a top notch Facebook and Twitter account. Choose carefully though. Ask yourself: Who is my ideal customer? How and what do I want to communicate with them? Which social media vehicle will be most effective to do so?

Before you update your status, upload that photo or decide to tweet, think about how that action will be improving your brand. Social media is like a giant, expensive, online advertising campaign. As soon as you publish something online, it is visible to the whole world. If you wouldn’t want it on a billboard in Times Square, then don’t post it online. Every social media action should build the strength and value of your brand. It should not just be another excuse for verbal diarrhoea. Even if you are the CEO of IBM, no one cares what you ate for breakfast. And remember, social media should always use your logo, company colours, relevant pictures and any other branding vehicles available, just as advertising would.

Social media does have its limitations though. If your company has no brand recognition to start with, social media won’t really help. You can utilise social media to increase brand recognition, but not to create it. A Facebook page won’t win over new customers.

You can use social media as a vehicle for communicating with customers (particularly younger, Gen Y customers) or for retaining existing happy customers. But if your customers aren’t happy with your product, daily Facebook status updates will probably upset, rather than impress them. If your brand, product or customer service isn’t 100%, it’s probably better to work on business operations and improvements before venturing into the world of social media.

As with any marketing activity, you need to be able to determine how effective social media as well as calculate its Return on Investment. To fully understand the effectiveness of your social media marketing campaign, it is best to use both internal and external systems of measurement.

Internal measurement is much easier to gauge. It includes how many Twitter followers you have, how many friends on Facebook or how many people ‘liked’ your last status update. While all these elements will give you solid, quantitative evidence (your accountant or CFO will like these), they won’t tell you whether a social media campaign is actually working, or whether your key messages are being heard (and understood or acted upon) by your audience.

Don’t get discouraged though, this is the same of an above-the-line advertising campaign. You can run all the television advertisements you like (with information from the TV networks on viewer ratings and audience breakdown) but, how do you know that your target audience isn’t in the kitchen making a cup of tea during the ad break?

As such, you need to couple internal measurement with external measurement tools. External measurement is a bit trickier to gauge. It includes website traffic and customer enquiries. You know when companies ask how you heard about them? Well, this is why. They are trying to get an understanding of which marketing methods work best for their brand. If sales haven’t increased, then whether you have two or two million Facebook fans is irrelevant.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for her time and for sharing this great article with us.