Estimated reading time: 4 mins
The time has come for your business to go international—you have reached such success in your home country that you seek new markets in which to demonstrate your ideas.
In fact, going global can have positive effects on your business, as it allows you to improve your overall growth potential by expanding your sales and business influence, but it is also a good means to protect you in case of a decline in your domestic market.
A slightly less great thing about it is that it’s not as easy as you might hope. There are at least three factors you should acknowledge as soon as you decide to start the internationalization process.
The right approach
When you start a conversation with a magazine, they usually ask you to send them some pitches—a short email explaining the topic of your articles and the way you are going to develop them. Obviously, you need to take into consideration the editorial line of the publication and its target readers, otherwise you will go totally off-topic. A very similar thing applies when you decide to approach a foreign market—you have to clearly bear in mind who your audience is going to be and how you can reach them. So, before launching your brand internationally, you have to do some market analysis to find out whether your product will be successful in that country and if it needs any adjustment. In fact, every culture has its own way of perceiving products and doing business, and you need to meet local standards in order to win the hearts of your future customers. Besides that, some countries have a friendlier approach in business relationships than others; think about this when you plan your business strategy and start pitching your potential customers, partners, or suppliers.
A little bit of self-confidence has never hurt anyone. Starting the internationalization process from zero can be a very tough job, so it is normal to feel discouraged at the beginning. Thanks to your previous market analysis, you can make a forecast of how your sales will go and how much your business will grow, but you will never have 100% certainty. Don’t give up. Keep a track record of your past accomplishments within the domestic market, recall the actions you took and the efforts you put in, and realize that if you made it once, you can make it again. What’s more, showing a track record of your accomplishments can help you enter a new market, as people love reliable people and brands and are attracted by high-quality products.
Cultural and language barriers
You certainly don’t want Led Zeppelin’s Communication Breakdown to be the soundtrack of your activity abroad. So what should you do? Overcome the cultural gap by knowing the country and the culture behind the market you are expanding into, and learn the way people communicate with each other. For instance, if you set Japan as one of your goal markets, do not expect people there to tell you a plain “No!” if they don’t agree with you. They will mutter a ちょっと chotto instead—literally “a bit,” but a Japanese person knows well that this is equal to a polite refusal. That is to say, knowing the habits of the people you are approaching will facilitate your job. It is also a sign of respect. However, culture is not always enough. Investing in languages, like asking a language consultant for advice or motivating your employees to attend a language course promoted by the company, will speed up communication between the headquarters and the branches and will increase your competitive power, like what happened to the Japanese company Rakuten during the last decade. But there is another tricky field—marketing translations, including your brand name. Does your name convey any idea associations that should be avoided in that country? If so, look for a proper translation of your brand name, but unless you are a true expert of the country you are planning to enter, don’t do it yourself. Ask a professional translator specialized in marketing translations, as an inappropriate name translation could shoot your dreams of glory down before you even start making them real.
You now have a general view on what going international actually implies. If you still have doubts on the steps to take, check out our business language consultancy service here.
Written by Marcella Sartore, Communication & Marketing Assistant @ Athena Parthenos
Photo credits: header by Sam Morrison – www.samthecobra.com