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Exporting Basics

CHAPTER 2. Developing Overseas Markets
  Increase Market Exposure Abroad

If you're not already known abroad, you'll need to actively promote your company and products. Overseas promotion is a must. You won't sell much if the buyers don't know who you are. Generally, the more you promote, the greater the impact. You can best increase your overseas market exposure through a combination of broadcast and targeted techniques.

  Broadcast Promotion

This is highly leveraged promotion; you reach many markets at once with a single notice or ad. All you need is a medium with worldwide outreach. The object is to promote awareness and generate interest and inquires. The advantage of this approach is its low overall cost and cost per lead. One drawback is that you might get more responses than you want, particularly from firms merely fishing for product samples or information. Follow-up can also be costly, especially if you send bulky catalogs or other materials.

Here are some broadcast options worth a try:

  • Company Web site.Your own company Web site can potentially be "seen" by anyone in the world at any given moment. You can design it as a virtual company/product catalog, with text, images, price sheets, order forms and anything else you wish. You can track and collect data on site visitors, and incorporate automatic e-mail responses to orders and inquires. Web Page set-up costs are fairly low. However, with millions of sites on the Web, potential customers may not find yours when they do a typical keyword search in Yahoo, Google or other Web search engines. Be sure to include your Web “URL” address on your business card and other promotional literature.
  • Export Directories. Unlike directories of manufacturers, export directories only list companies actually engaged or interested in exporting. Since many manufacturers do not export, foreign buyers will more likely look in an export directory to find potential suppliers. It's to your advantage to be listed in export directories, particularly those with worldwide Internet outreach.
  • There are two types of export directories -- company-specific and product-specific. An export company directory essentially lists the companies by name and industry category. Most such directories provide limited detailsabout a listed company's export products (e.g., My Exports). The Commerce Department's BuyUSA directory gives more company information. An export product directory lists the products each company offers for export, often with detailed descriptions and images (e.g., CITD Trade Directory or Commercial News USA). You should seek opportunities to list in both types of directories. However, since foreign buyers primarily look for products, not companies, you may get better promotional results from listings in export product directories.

  • Export "sell" offers. You can post your own "offers to sell" in a number of different electronic trade lead systems, such as the Trade Point ETO service. It's best to provide as much information as possible in your offer, to reassure potential respondents that you are a serious and reliable supplier. It's especially helpful to be specific in describing your export product (specifications, uses, benefits), quantity available, price and delivery options, your bona fides, and what you would like to know from respondents. See Appendix D1 for suggested particulars to include in a sell offer. Also, use discretion in selecting trade lead systems. Most allow anyone to post an export offer and have no quality control.

  • Trade press ads. Many industry magazines published domestically are also circulated abroad. When you advertise or get a favorable review in these industry journals, you reach the same interest groups overseas as domestically -- producers, buyers, distributors, and other procurement decision-makers. Nearly all industry magazines carry paid ads, and most have sections that announce or evaluate new products.

Targeted Promotion

Here your promotion reaches just the market or audience you want. Since you're not everywhere at once, your message can be more detailed and personalized. Your objective is high-quality, high-impact exposure. The costs are higher, but so are the potential rewards. If you have foreign representatives, they can do some or all of the promotion in their areas, usually on a cost-sharing basis. Consider these targeted promotion techniques:

  • Overseas Business Trips. Face-to-face promotion can be very persuasive. The key is to know whom to see before you get there. Don't waste precious time looking after you arrive. If you don't know anyone in particular, a trade assistance organization with overseas representatives may be able to help. For example, the U.S. Commerce Department can arrange advance appointments and make introductions for U.S. exporters, under its fee-based Gold Key Matching service. Other Gold Key options, if needed, include orientation briefings, market research, interpreter service for meetings, and assistance in developing a market strategy and effective follow-up. States can also provide some or all of these matchmaking services where they have overseas offices. Other countries may offer similar programs for their exporters.

  • Overseas trade shows. They're costly, but a trade show puts you face-to-face with many potential customers at once, all able to see you and your products first hand. You can talk face-to face, book orders, and perhaps even sell off the floor. Trade show opportunities exist all over the world. Every country has at least one major annual trade show. Many countries have shows throughout the year, often on specific industry themes. For names, dates and locations check the “Directory of International Expositions” in any library or any one of several on line trade show directories, such as Trade Show Central or the U.S. Commerce Department’s Search Trade Events directory.

It's not always easy to get into major overseas shows on your own. They're often booked years in advance. However, you can still participate if a trade assistance organization or industry association has already reserved a pavilion or booth space for eligible exporters. For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce sponsors overseas trade shows abroad, either directly or through a "certified" private organizer. U.S. exporters can secure booth space for a fee, sometimes as late as six months before the start date. Typically, Government-sponsored events offer personalized services not otherwise available, such as delivery of your goods to the site, turnkey booth set-up, "repfind" assistance, embassy briefings, etc.

  • Domestic trade shows. Some domestic trade shows attract large numbers of foreign buyers. They're serious buyers, because they've come a long way to see what's new. If you're an exhibitor, they can see you just as well there as at a foreign show. You get the best of both worlds -- the domestic exposure you mainly want, plus spin-off exposure to foreign buyers.

  • Catalog shows. In the U.S., the Commerce Department and many States offer opportunities to showcase company catalogs abroad. Other countries may sponsor similar events. These events do not require your physical presence and are much less costly than trade shows. U.S. Multi-State Catalog Exhibitions are normally theme-specific and typically make stops in several selected countries. At each stop, foreign prospects can view the displayed catalogs, brochures, videos and other sales materials. You receive any resulting sales leads, along with a list of all foreign buyers attending the event.

  • Overseas trade missions. Traveling with a group can add impact to your visit. A group, particularly an "official" delegation, has more prestige, gets more notice and opens more doors. Many governments and industry associations organize overseas trade missions for exporter groups. The U.S. Department of Commerce, for example, has a Matchmaker Trade Delegations program specifically designed for this purpose. Before the trip, Commerce trade specialists evaluate each company's export potential, find and screen contacts, handle the logistics, provide in-country business briefings, and arrange one-on-one meetings with prospective clients. Trade mission opportunities are usually announced well in advance, and your chances of getting on one are good if you apply early enough.


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