I get it: Expanding internationally can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In a world more connected than ever, technology and infrastructure make international growth incredibly accessible for organizations.
By having the right outlook and asking the right questions, expanding globally can accelerate next-level growth — helping companies extend their reach beyond an overly-saturated market, remain competitive on a global scale and substantially grow their revenue. New markets, while unfamiliar at first, can drive profitable opportunities for brands looking to build their client base and offer more products and services.
On the flip side, launching in a new market without preparing can be a colossal drain on resources — with little return to show for it. Nearly half the companies that attempt international expansion conduct no formal research before launching, making it no surprise that most of these expansion efforts fail. To avoid these blunders, it’s critical businesses research in advance to prepare for their foray.
In order to see international expansion success, these are the most critical elements marketers and their partners should focus on:
Know Your Market
To establish their marketing objectives when expanding, marketers should first ask themselves a few questions: How big is the market? How many and which products do we want to deploy in the new market? What is the perceived value of our product to service in this market? Is it economical, valuable, premium or ultra-premium? Who are our competitors? Do we want to be a market leader or a follower? Is our brand best-in-class or on par with local and international competitors? Are there any regulatory or economic factors to consider?
Teams should also consider using third-party data to determine their total addressable market (TAM). Segmenting the markets by demographics and specific locations can further assist in focusing their efforts more effectively.
When a company knows its position in the market, it is able to make better decisions about strategy and execution — which is critical in saving precious resources like time and money.
Know Your Audience
Regardless of where a business is expanding, it is imperative for marketers to know their audience and what their pain points are. Having a good grasp on audience sentiment and preferences makes it more likely that the content they create resonates with those they are aiming to reach — often producing stronger results.
From an international lens, depending on where the business is looking to expand, marketers need to consider nuances with language and local/cultural differences. Understanding the customer — and the potential contrasts to a marketer’s home customer — will allow marketers to best connect with their new audience, deliver stand-out customer experiences and motivate people to build a relationship with the brand.
Know Your Goals
Oftentimes, brands dive headfirst into international markets without any clear, defined goals, leading to issues down the road. The goals that marketers have in their home market may be different in another country.
To give themselves the greatest chance, companies need to determine their definition of success and build objectives around that vision. Marketers should ask themselves: What are we trying to accomplish? What does a win look like to us? What are our revenue targets? How many customers do we need to acquire to achieve those targets? Where can our marketing efforts yield the greatest ROI? By defining these goals early and having clear markers of success, marketers can create long-term objectives and determine how best to track progress.
Know What’s Working (and What’s Not)
Like goals, the channels and strategies deployed in a home market may not translate in another country. It will likely be a series of trying new things, seeing if they worked and then adapting. By keeping a constant pulse on their company’s progress, they can determine what’s working and what’s not so they can be agile and avoid wasting valuable resources on a channel or content that’s not delivering.
Partnering Can Be Promising
Organizations can consider joining forces with an international partner in a new market to address the specific needs of each country. According to Boston Consulting Group, 97% of marketers have responsibilities such as branding, creative development, measurement, and media planning handled for them. Working collaboratively allows companies to do more, deliver ROI benefits, and establish consistent KPIs to chart success.
The Bottom Line
The choice is often up to us. If we’re willing to put in the work, we see the rewards. International expansion can be incredibly beneficial — or costly and ineffective, if not prepared for properly. By doing the research ahead of time and understanding the market, audience and goals — and then being willing to adapt — marketers can have the whole world in their hands.
Lindsay Boyajian Hagan is the VP of marketing at Conductor, managing all demand generation and go-to-market activities. With more than 10 years of experience in the B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) space, Hagan’s strengths lie in scaling marketing teams and building cross-channel campaign strategies. She began her career by launching her own company, WeareverYouGo.