Unlocking Your Market Potential
Ensuring your First Success in International Business Development
(with some comforting advice on avoiding three common pitfalls)

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Pitfall number 1: If our product sold at home it must sell abroad.

Not a bad assumption on the face of it, and you may well be right. Most developed societies have a similar infrastructure, and most underdeveloped societies are striving to get comparable infrastructures and efficient business processes in place as fast as possible. The trend towards globalization also makes international commerce easier at multiple levels, and some people abroad even speak the same language as you, bless them!

However, if your company has grown organically, i.e. through steady growth from inception to its current state, then there are differences in the way a point attack on a new market should be structured. If your company has grown through substantial mergers and acquisitions, then this strategy can be replicated abroad, but you still need to bear a few points in mind.

In your home market, your range of products and services complement each other, but may be too broad as you expand overseas. For maximum efficiency and chances of success in the new market, you need to determine your core offering that best expresses your differentiator in the optimal niche market and focus on that alone.

To increase your efficiency, you may also need to determine which industry sector to focus on. For example, being a specialist for the insurance industry may well be better than offering product and services to the financial sector as a whole. Articulating business benefits around an industry vertical gives you that extra competitive edge when previous successes have been in that domain – credibility is all-important and proven execution in a specific business sector is what customers are looking for.

You may well have built up some brand loyalty amongst your customer base. However, your reputation has less of an impact abroad, so that your product or service has to stand on its own two feet in its new market and against the established domestic competitors.

Support is also an issue – it’s possible to support a wide range of products and services close to home, but more difficult abroad, especially with language and time zone barriers.

So get lean and mean – resolve your core competencies and product, and spearhead with that.

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© January 2003, Keith Rayner