6 Steps To Preparing Your Brand For A Foreign Market
Are you expanding your business into international markets? Do you want to tap into the Canadian market because of its surface similarities to the US? Interested in the disposable income of increasingly wealthy Koreans who are hungry for luxury brands? Or is your firm looking to target rapidly growing, emerging markets like Brazil and China?
Before you jump feet first into the world of international commerce, be sure to keep in mind these six steps to prepare your brand for a foreign market.
1. Understand your geographical footprint
Many companies invest too heavily in costly infrastructure at the start of an international venture and create a heavy burden on the initial roll-out of their brand in a new market. Savvy firms take a long look at their current geographical footprint and work to understand how international distribution can be integrated into their current manufacturing, shipping, and packaging program. Before you expand into a foreign market, look closely at which of your products would be the most cost-effective to package and ship from your current facility with only a minor increase in production capacity while still being able to absorb the cost of any import duties.
2. Pick a pilot set of products/SKUs
There are many good reasons not to go “whole hog” into a new market. Your geographical footprint may point to a very tight set of products that would be easy to expand without adding to corporate infrastructure. In addition, by testing the waters with a pilot set of products, you will get a better on-the-ground feel for how best to translate the central message of your brand for a new set of consumers (see step five below). Finally, putting a pilot project in play makes it easier to sell the idea to corporate leadership – and lowers the bar for a positive ROI on the campaign. Stacking a lot of little wins together is a lot easier than betting it all on one huge win. This pilot concept also opens the door to a more refined approach to category management. Your North America categories may need to be changed for a new market. It won’t do you much good to market a clock radio in electronics if your target population will be looking for it in the bedroom category.
3. Understand the difference between transcreation, specialized human translation, and machine translation
4. Decide whether or not you need subject matter expert translators (as opposed to generalists)
There are some cases where a generalist translator can help you make the move into a new market, or at the very least, they can help you avoid massive blunders that might kill sales. (While the famous story of the Chevy Nova not doing well in Latin America because “no va” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish is an urban myth, the story of the Tiz razor is all too true. The Tiz was introduced to the Qatar market without proper vetting. Turns out “Tiz” meant “passing wind” in Qatar. Not the kind of association you want for your product.) That said, there are many situations where you want a translator with both top-notch localization skills, but who also understand your vertical and target market intimately. Selling specialty products and services often require particular knowledge of a field.
5. Understand how the essence of your brand is best communicated across cultures
6. Be prepared to adapt your current online marketing strategy to reflect different kinds of searches
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