Is geographic expansion really an optional growth strategy? As soon as someone on the other side of the globe orders one of your products from your website, you have been thrust into geographic expansion, right?
Although an investment in bricks and mortar locations is not always necessary, attraction of more customers in a variety of locations requires intentionality. Some basics:
Consider your marketing. Are you conveying that you truly welcome purchases from customers based in Beijing or Shanghai if your website hasn’t been translated into Mandarin or Cantonese? Which currency are you prepared to receive? Can you handle letters of credit? Most midsized companies don’t have enough money to appeal to every country. You can start with English speaking countries. When you are ready to tailor your marketing messages to specific countries and cultures, consider using the services of companies like WELOCALIZE, Inc. To listen to my interview with their CEO, Yewell Smith, visit www.TheGrowthStrategistShow.com.
Consider your approach to sales. It makes a HUGE difference if your sales professionals clearly respect people from a variety of cultures. It pays to bring in coaches who can teach you and your employees about cultural nuances. Although my years of traveling 250,000 miles/year are behind me, I have worked with clients in 33 countries and enjoy learning about different cultures. But I feel like a neophyte compared to other globe trotters. Maybe that’s good because no one should get complacent. Before I travel to a new location, I like to read books, go online, review recent news articles, and brush up on language and the pronunciation of peoples’ names.
Consider your approach to customer service. Are you sensitive to different time zones? Have you developed strategic alliances around the globe to provide technical support and problem solving on a local basis? If you place expatriates, are you ready to handle local laws and regulations related to payroll? Check out www.Expaticore.com.
We have found that memberships in the Global Speakers Federation and the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM) have been helpful to us. Plus we have appreciated the help provided by the US Chamber of Commerce and US Embassies around the world.
Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions. Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search. 2012 is Ambler’s 8th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at www.GrowthStrategistShow.com. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.