All ambitious business owners will tell you that they’re always on the lookout for ways to grow their business. And when you’ve achieved something at home, you tend to set your sights on abroad. The thing is, if you’ve never expanded abroad before, it can be a pretty daunting process – especially if you’re not 100% sure where to start. So, to help inspire you to set sail and give that journey of a life time a go, here’s how to get started.
Choose your destination
Just like booking a holiday, a lot of planning needs to go into choosing your destination. For some companies this might be easy – you might already have clients from that particular country so ramping up sales, marketing, and production is probably the next logical step. But, if you don’t have a clear cut path of where you’d like to go – there are ways to find out.
- Ask the team. Speak to your sales and marketing department to see if there is anywhere that comes to mind. They deal with clients all day every day, so they’ll have an idea of somewhere with potential.
- It’s all about technology. Use analytics to see where visitors to your site are coming from, and think about targeting them. It’s a lot easier to start selling to people who have already heard of you rather than starting from the very beginning.
- Ask those who know you the best. Speak with existing customers to see if they have any tips. They know your products almost as well as you do and they’ll know if your product has potential in their neck of the woods or not.
- Research. Carry out market research to make sure that there really is a market for your product so you’re not pumping money into something that won’t pay off.
While we may be a little bit biased, coming up with a localization plan is one of the most important parts of expanding abroad. You may think that everyone speaks English so it’s not really necessary, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over 72% of consumers prefer to buy in their native language, with 56% saying that language is even more important than price!
So, here’s what you need to do to go global linguistically.
- Rules and regulations. First of all, you need to check out the rules and regulations of that particular country. If you’re going to be outsourcing your production or building a factory that will employ local workers, you’ll need documentation, contracts, etc. in the local language. You also have to make sure that your whole operation respects the local laws.
- Be local. Next, you need a local presence. Translate your website and any other sales and marketing materials you’ll need so that locals have something to interact with. You can also create local pages on social media, too (but remember, you’ll need to be posting in the local language). You can also think about multilingual SEO to make sure that your website gets seen when you need it most.
- Support staff. No matter if you’re going to have a physical location or you’re doing everything online – you still need to have support staff who speak that country’s particular language.
- Payments & shipping. If you’re involved in shipping, make sure that you have good delivery options available for that country. Also, make sure that you’re able to process the local currency – people will be put off if they have to pay USD transfer fees to make a purchase from you.
- Sales & marketing plan. Finally, make sure you have a solid sales and marketing plan for your new region (remembering that different countries like different things) so that you can maximize on sales and visibility.
Once you’ve done the leg work and got yourselves prepared, the only thing left to do is jump! Make sure you have everything ready to go, don’t rush, and most importantly, don’t panic. Get a partner on board early who understands the local language and culture (e.g. your local translation agency) so that they can give you tips on how to succeed and take care of all the linguistic bits for you. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it count by using professionals.
When you’re expanding, the most important thing you have to do is measure. You should be checking the success of everything you do – from social media likes to financial results. You can utilize all of the tools used to research where you wanted to expand to, and again, definitely speak to your sales and marketing team. Every little bit of data helps and every insight into your new marketing will prove vital in helping you move forward. You’ll learn what’s working, what’s not – and be able to make sure everything’s going smoothly into the future.
Keep thinking localization
Once you’ve done all the hard work, it’s important to keep it up! Getting sloppy with your localization and marketing efforts can really let you down. One tip we can give you is to try and keep the same linguistic team. This’ll really help as it’ll keep your style consistent and you won’t have to worry about briefing the linguists on your products as they’ll already be used to you.
This is now the time to also start thinking about style guides and glossaries, as the sooner you start implementing them the better! They’ll help make sure everyone is on the same page no matter the language, and make sure you’re looking as professional as possible.
We may have made this sound super simple, but what we’re trying to say is that although it appears scary, international expansion really doesn’t have to be all that bad. And if you’d like to make a go of things but aren’t quite sure where to start, feel free to get in touch. We’re here to help advise and take care of your company’s localization needs, no matter the language.