Five steps to going global

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Posted by matt : Posted on September 29, 2011

In this guest post, author, entrepreneur, and international trade expert, Emma Jones, kindly takes us through her top 5 tips for going global…

Emma Jones

Over the course of a year, I meet hundreds of small business owners. But one topic of conversation comes up time and again and that’s how much they all want to start making sales overseas (if they aren’t already).

If you’re thinking of making the move into international trade, this post has been written for you.  It offers five basic steps on how to take your business global and ultimately benefit from increased sales.

Step 1: Research

Before embarking on any journey, you need to know where you’re going and what to do when you get there. Planning for overseas business is just the same. It’s important to ask questions to work out if there’s a market of people willing and able to buy your goods. Consider the 4 Cs:

  • COUNTRIES: Where is there most likely to be a demand for your product or service?
  • CUSTOMERS: What does your customer profile look like? How do customers in the country you’re focusing on like to buy and be served?
  • COSTS: What should you charge (bearing in mind what you know about existing supply and demand)? What are the costs of getting the goods to market, and providing follow-up customer support?
  • COMPETITORS: Who are your competitors? How do you stand out? And is there any potential for a partnership?

You can also access research, including UK Trade & Investment country reports and Alibaba industry reports, where you’ll find answers to a lot of your questions.

And remember, you can harness the power of Google Analytics for insight into the levels of international traffic you may already be attracting.

Step 2: Promote

Having identified your markets and countries, the next step is to get noticed. My advice is to focus on your niche and build a global reach. This means having a precise understanding of your product or services, and the audience they will appeal to.

With this intelligence in hand, you can make the most of some powerful platforms and tech tools to help you spread the word:

  • BLOG: Start a blog via Blogger or WordPress and offer advice and support to others – this will help you build a reputation for being the expert in your field.
  • PUBLISH: Publish a book. This might sound like it’s easier said than done but it’s actually easier than you’d think through self-publishing sites like Lulu and Blurb. Offer free downloadable copies to customers and take print versions to events.
  • SHARE: Share your expertise with a ‘live’ web-based audience who can see and interact with you. You can achieve this via platforms such as GoToWebinar, Webex and DimDim.
  • ENGAGE: Engage with customers, competitors and key influencers – by making the most of social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • PROMOTE: Consider the benefits of an international PR newswire to promote your brand story and news across borders.
  • READ: In Go Global, I offer 10 ways to publish content across the web, and the world, that will have customers coming to your ‘door’ to browse and buy whatever you’re offering.

Step 3: Sell

You’ve carried out research, built a strong profile, and are ready to start making sales. Sell online through your own website, via platform sites, or using agents and distributors.

For now, let’s look at platform sites as they present a powerful channel to new markets.

Of these, is probably the most significant and fastest growing (as of June 2011, the site boasts 1 million registered UK users). The site acts as a global trading platform, connecting buyers and sellers around the world and helping them locate suppliers and make sales.

Other sites worth looking into, depending on your business, include Etsy, for anyone making/selling handmade goods, and of course the global mega-mall auction site eBay.

Step 4: Deliver

This is about keeping your promises: delivering goods on time and in perfect condition. It also means meeting documentation and regulatory requirements, and with a level of service that ensures customers keep coming back.

DHL Express can provide customs support through their export documentation services.

You should also consider protecting intellectual property overseas. Visit IPO Intellectual Property Abroad for more information.

Remember, DHL Express can also ensure your logistics run smoothly. As they say, “we’re at home anywhere in the world, and that matters to anyone with overseas shipping needs.” Indeed, it does!

Step 5: Go Local

The final step focuses on achieving a ‘local feel’ in overseas markets. This is important as it helps adapt your brand, product and services to the cultural-specifics of the market you’re aiming at. It probably goes without saying that you should us local rate phone numbers, a locally-tailored virtual office, and a website/online store that is translated for the local market.

Developing strong relationships is key – you should also be prepared to travel to meet customers face-to-face.

And finally…

The most import step when it comes to international trade is to make a start! Consider attending courses, conferences and events – they will bring these steps to life and showcase small business owners who’ve successfully gone global.

One such event, Go Global, will take place on November 15th 2011, with experts from small businesses and big companies alike covering every aspect of international trade.

I hope to see you there, for more talk, tips and techniques about to take your business to the world!

Emma Jones is founder of small business support company, Enterprise Nation. She is the author of Go Global – how to take your business to the world and co-founder of StartUp Britain.

DHL is here to support all your international trading needs. Find out more by visiting

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