When we speak with clients who are thinking of trading domestically, we advise them to choose:
- specific geographic regions
- with appropriate demographics, and
- psychographics that match their highest probability buyers.
This allows companies to make sure they are selling products or services to qualified buyers in the right place for the right price.
Creating a message that communicates an appropriate value proposition and triggers a desired reaction (likely a sales order) can only be done if you understand who is buying and what need you are filling.
When you consider exporting, being specific is just as important.
If you were selling domestically and defined your target market as “Canada”, any business consultant would tell you that you need to be more specific. As a Canadian firm, if you say “Asia” or “The UK”, you are being even more vague. Rather than looking at exporting as opening the entire globe as your market, you should be placing specific pins on the globe where there is a specific qualified buyer for your product. Declaring the world as your potential market will lead to insurmountable obstacles, a lack of tactical focus and inadequate ability to put a plan into action.
Choosing a foreign market that is specific, just as you would for your domestic market, will allow your efforts to be focused and much more affordable.
Services and Supports Available
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Export Forum which brought together professionals from a number of government organizations that support businesses looking to enter new markets around the world. Below is a list of some of the specific resources you may want to take advantage of if you are entering the global marketplace.
Trade Commissioners – At Canadian Consulate offices in theUnited States and around the world, you will find specialized trade commissioners. These trade commissioners are tasked with understanding the local market in which they are situated. Often each commissioner will focus on a specific industry. As a Canadian Business, you may contact a trade commissioner to seek specific help and research. There are also trade commissioners positioned inCanada who can help you assess foreign markets and sectors.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) – The Canada Border Services Agency not only enforces the rules of international trade through the friendly people that meet us at the border when we come home from a trip abroad, but also work to educate importers and exporters on how to successfully comply with the rules and regulations they enforce. You can call CBSA on the phone, or you can meet them in person by attending an information session. Information sessions are often free.
New Exporters to Border States (NEBS) Missions – Our partners at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation host a “Road Trip to Buffalo”. At this relatively inexpensive trade mission, you will hear presentations with information about customs and border protection, immigration and work visas, U.S. Banking, warehousing and shipping, and taxation. (Please see our previous post on NEBS Missions)
There are two main challenges while learning to export.
- The first challenge is gaining an understanding of the foreign market you are targeting. You want to be able to effectively enter the market and compete. Are there political or economic differences in the country that effect how people choose to buy? Are there differences in cultures, beliefs and emotions that will impact your ability to communicate or make a sale?
- The second challenge is to navigate all of the regulations, forms and taxes that will impact your ability to move your product or people into your new market.
The best advice is to become as educated as you can. Read related books and guides, visit websites, attend training and information sessions, and perhaps most importantly, talk to experts and ask for help.
Start with a consultation with a Small Business Consultant. We’ll help you craft an action plan of which agencies you can call to have each of your specific questions answered or challenges addressed.
Contact Halton Region’s Small Business Centre at 1-866-442-5866, www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, email@example.com or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @haltonecdev and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HaltonSBEC.