What You Should Know About Entering a Foreign Market

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Entering a new territory can be an exciting growth opportunity for your business, but the process leading up to the actual expansion can also be terrifying. Often times, publishers are ill-prepared for the challenges of entering a foreign market. So many factors can either make or break the attempt.

So, if you want to expand your business, and market it internationally, you really have to plan accordingly. Regardless of the size of your business, you can be successful in foreign markets if you plan thoroughly, and keep three factors in mind: local representation in the foreign market; failure to plan is planning to fail and the risk of being lost in translation.

Local representation in the foreign market

Potential clients won’t be inclined to call or speak to someone located in another continent when they have a local option. They want local service, so the number of contacts you need to establish in their area depends on the country’s size. For example, if you plan on entering the Chinese or Russian market, you’ll need several local representatives, as opposed to say, Greece, which might require only one.

A German company may assume that it has a sales footprint in the United States with one or two sales and customer service reps in Los Angeles, but the country is massive and has an enormous population with diverse needs and expectations. If this company needed to make in-person presentations, it simply wouldn’t have enough manpower to cover enough of the country.

However, if you’re in Ukraine, or any other country that was once part of the former Soviet Union, it would be in your best interest you have representatives that speak the local language, as well as Russian, because it is still a common language in these regions. So, if you end up in a situation in which a Russian-speaker doesn’t speak the local language, they will still have a common language to communicate in, and this may cover the bulk of your market. It is crucial to evaluate the needs of the particular market you are trying to enter.


Failure to plan is planning to fail

There is a significant difference between what a new market requires, and what a market’s needs are when you have established your presence. This is why it is imperative to establish a country-specific plan whenever you are planning on entering a new market.

Your existing marketing plan isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good you think it is.In most situations, you can always add relevant components to  your current program, but it’s never a good idea to enter a new area without involving someone who understands how the campaign should be tailored to marketing norms locally in that country.

Thankfully, today global markets are open to companies of all sizes, as well as qualified translators, consultants, and international marketers and salespeople to do everything possible to help you succeed in your international marketing endeavors. These resources play a substantial role in making your marketing goals achievable, even internationally.


Lost in translation

Translation into the local language of the market you’d like to enter is possibly the most important aspect of preparing your campaign. If your translation is inaccurate, or if a native can easily tell that it was done via Google Translate, then you’ve just flushed your credibility down the toilet. Accuracy, especially in a language by which you’re communicating to your audience, is crucial. Otherwise, your business will appear unprofessional and shady, and it will cost you clients. Translation should be a priority from the get-go, because let’s be honest, if a potential customer cannot understand your company’s product and/or service, they simply won’t buy it.

Rakel Triki - LinkedIn profileYour best bet is to hire a professional translator who understands your specific industry, so that nothing gets lost in translation, not even industry-related jargon (also can be an issue, even with a translator). So, choose your translators wisely, because they are an investment you cannot compromise on. Remember that an effective translation also takes into account familiarity with local nuances and, often, only a local will be able to guide you effectively.

We certainly saw the benefits of working with our French-speaking team members when we were working on the French version of our website to better serve our French customers recently. We asked Rakel Triki, one of our French-speaking Account Executives for some advice:

As a French member of the team, I can tell you that being global is very important – When you speak French to a French customer it makes him feels very familiar with you. We really want our customers to feel at home with us.

The bottom line

While entering a new marketing does require major preparation, it can also be really fun and fulfilling personally, as well as professionally. Moving into new territories is a big move for your business, and you can reap many rewards. Just make sure that you do all of the proper planning and keep certain details and cultural norms in mind in the process.

Has your company ever entered a foreign market? Which tactics did you use to ease the entry?

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Sinead McIntyre

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