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How to export like an expert

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Are you thinking about exporting your product or service? If so, congratulations, exciting times are certainly ahead of you.

Yet with the thrill of launching your offering into a new market comes many challenges, including deciding which country to export to, how to get into the market and how to make sure it’s profitable and deliverable.

To maximise your export opportunity and increase your chances of success, it’s important to focus your mind on what you want to achieve. That way, you’ll have a clear vision to plan for and work towards.

So, where to begin? Here are three steps to help you export like an expert.

Step One: Discover everything you can

Start by investing time in researching how other businesses have set about exporting their product or service. Use the internet to find case studies from your intended market, as well as other industries, and learn from their achievements and mistakes.

You should also extensively research your competition to understand their offering and workout how this differs from what you will provide. Once you know, you will be in a better position to market your company’s unique proposition to foreign buyers, so that they snap up your product ahead of the field.

Another useful and accessible way to build up your exporting knowledge is to attend seminars and enrol in short courses on the export marketing process, export documentation and international business. In this environment, you will also meet entrepreneurs who have good ideas and advice for you to learn from.

If you prefer to have experts on your side, seek out an export specialist to guide you along the journey and fast track the process. They should be able to help you carry out important market research and feasibility studies to minimise risks and help you to connect with your target market.

Step Two: Plan your exporting

With your research underway, it’s also the right time to develop an effective action plan based on what you are learning. The world’s most successful exporters always have an export plan in place, so increase your chances of becoming one of them by carefully developing and following a plan of your own.

Ideally, you will gain experience in marketing your offering through first becoming established in your local region. That way, you can parlay your acquired wisdom into your export plan. And remember to factor in the extra costs involved in exporting a physical product, like additional transport, insurance premiums, handling charges and changes to packaging and labelling for a foreign audience.

Step Three: Structure your business for exporting

It’s all very well to have a plan, but you also literally need to have the goods to back it up. So, make sure that you are equipped to deliver what you say you can, when you say you will.

Make sure you have sound processes in place to support you in satisfying demand and fulfilling orders. After all, you want your product or service to sell like hotcakes, so put time into creating your systems and processes that won’t let your customers, and you, down.

You should also have your basic promotional collateral – such as business cards, a website and a company profile – ready to go when you start your export marketing drive. This is so you start off your campaign at full force and with the kind of professionalism your foreign buyers will expect from you.

While your product or service may be naturally beneficial, on the flipside, creating a deliberate and engineered export strategy will see results come from your diligence and hard work rather than from luck.

Steve Dowling is the Director of ClientLink, a boutique consultancy specialising in helping businesses to achieve a better grip on marketing and export.

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