Developing a new export market can be very costly, especially if your sales channels are not only web based. Whether the web is your only sales channel, a secondary one or a support to your traditional channels it can also be a great tool to find your next natural export market. A natural export market is one where there is an already existing fit with your product or service. Developing an export market when you need to make significant modifications to your product will require more effort.
Here is a simple 3 step approach to find and get to know your next natural export market when you can’t count on a sizeable budget or contacts in the new market.

Step 1 – Web advertising/Analytics

Google Adwords and other web advertisers allow you to target the markets where you advertise your products geographically with great precision. Testing the response of your ads in various markets by monitoring how many hits your geographically targeted ads generate is a great way to sniff out your natural export markets. You can start by targeting similar socio-demographic segments to the ones you already sell to on the local front. This tactic could be considered a type of A/B testing where your test variable is not the ad content per se but the geographic area where it is placed.

Step 2 – Social media

Once you have identified your next natural export market, add/befriend/follow potential customers, partners and local associations on various social medias such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Start by taking in the contents and conversations for a while before participating in the exchanges. This will enable you to better understand not only potential customers’ needs but also their environment. At this stage, you can also start to test, via your website, the type of content and approach that works best in this new market.
When you build enough of a following and reputation in your new market, you can start on step 3.

Step 3 – Webinars

When you have identified your targets (customers, suppliers, and partners) in your new export market, create webinars that will appeal to the specific target you are going for. These webinars will enable you to demonstrate your value proposition, establish your reputation and get valuable contact information. You can now initiate a dialogue with your targets and engage your sales process.

This 3-step approach can be adapted to approaching new market segments in your local market as well. In future posts I will go into more detail with each of these steps. Stay tuned.