Thursday, April 15, 2010

LinkedIn Conversations: What is the Most Effective Way to Market an International Business?

Effective marketing is critical for any business but can be especially nuanced for small businesses that operate internationally.  Here are small business tips from the latest LinkedIn conversation:

What is the most effective way to market an international business?

(From the International Business group on LinkedIn)

From Glynis Ross-Munro:

I've done a lot of international marketing (and taught it) for a niche market (ultra precision engineering). You have to be culturally fluent, very internet savvy, good at written communication and have excellent CRM skills. You live and die by your passion for your CRM system.
Trust and networking don't need face-to-face interactions. They need time, integrity, my-word-is-my-bond (but check the numbers and follow up), patience and (again) cultural fluency. They need a lot of thought about what constitutes meaning and value for "the other guy." (These days I teach cultural fluency and communication across distances and differences too.)
Another important issue is that networking with international business and economies or cultures can be done with someone who is almost your next door neighbor. I spend about a third of my year's work on and similar unpaid projects, bringing together binationals from the megaregion where I live, building connections and creating opportunities for people to learn how to work together. The global economy is merely a series of circuits of connection - marketing means climbing on to these circuits in ways that fit the needs of others, and delivering what people need, effectively, sustainably and in a differentiated, valuable way.
:) Glynis

From John Papathanassiou:

I agree with most of your comments. But, there are regions/trerritories in this global marketplace that do require face to face meeting, especially in some of the devoloping regions of the globe. Maybe not immediately, but you will reach a point in the relationship that the face-to-face meeting is a must. This will help reinforce "my-word-is-my-bond" and able you to explore other products, markets, and services in that territory.

From Glynis Ross-Munro:

Hi John
I agree completely. In some cultures, business will never happen until you have eaten together, and in others, there is simply no way forward without spending time together.
It's also a question of the the difference between marketing and sales. You can create awareness of your products and services, build your brand etc in many long-distance ways, but a significant sale often depends on a more powerfully immediate demonstration of your claims of quality and service, and proof that you consistently act in a way that creates value and deserves trustworthiness.
In diffuse and collectivist cultures, that really means face-to-face.
In parts of Africa, that is still the only possible way to do business.
Nevertheless, I have sold millions of dollars of equipment to people I have never met, even from Far Eastern cultures, through patient, ethical communication and consistent responsiveness, with reliable and helpful information. This was within a recognized brand, but it was very interesting to watch how the nature of business changed (letters of credit becoming unsecured simple bank transfers etc).
Marketing means different things in different cultures, but one thing that always amazes me is how quickly people find out who is trustworthy and who isn't. The world is a very small global village where reputation is concerned. :)glynis

From John Papathanassiou:

Well put and very insightful.
All the best,

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