Second wave or not, when it comes to business, we’ve all now got to sink or swim. That means get back to work and start kicking. Alternatively, you could wait for the world to hand you a rubber ring or a life preserver for those across the Atlantic. However, most business leaders didn’t get to where they are by waiting for the world to throw them a lifeline, and chances are, if you’re a CEO, you’re looking for ways to shore up your business now and in the future. So, if your current market has limitations, maybe now’s the time to think about entering a new one? A fractional CMO with international expertise could be just the person you need to set off in the right direction.
“If we are to win the game, the pieces must be moved properly; a false move and everything could be lost.” - Roald Amundsen in 1911, en route to the South Pole (he and his team were the first men ever to reach 90° 0 ́ South)
The world is your oyster - with the right marketing strategy
While we might not all be heading out into the literal cold in our snow boots and skis to explore the world like Mr Amundsen, expanding into new markets is the goal of many organisations today, and it can certainly feel like an adventure. Now, the idea of entering a new market is a much more logical step for businesses given that we have the ability to communicate like never before, and thanks to the Internet, it isn’t just New York that never sleeps, neither do the rest of us.
Perhaps one of the side effects of COVID-19 is that that sense of global community is even greater. We are connecting with people on the other side of the world in the same way we might be communicating with our neighbour on a much more frequent basis than before. So, there is a sense that barriers to reaching those markets have lowered, even if the logistics of delivering physical services and products are sometimes more challenging. However, significant cultural differences and behaviours remain even if it might seem otherwise when everyone is Zooming.
Arguably the biggest advantage of entering a new market is simply having a whole set of new customers at your fingertips who are willing to buy your product or service. It provides an opportunity to diversify the sales of your business - just as demand in some Western countries is collapsing, demand in China has surged ahead. If only you had built up your presence in other markets before the pandemic.
Challenges that everyone faces when expanding into new markets
That said, international growth, while exciting, also poses a unique set of hurdles that even the most successful business can stumble over. According to a British Chamber of Commerce survey, 55% of businesses see a positive impact on their bottom line after 12 months of breaking into international markets. That’s great, but it also means that there are 45% of businesses that aren’t seeing the fruits of their efforts in the same time frame.
Cultural differences, alternative codes of conduct, rules, laws, customer expectations and recruitment issues are all nuanced barriers to entry. Those are in addition to the more tangible issues like cost and logistics. Even when you recognise those challenges, it’s another thing to know what to do about them because the only real way is through experience, and that’s where an international fractional CMO to contribute to your success could be the cost-effective best friend you never knew you needed.
Even the mighty eBay failed when it first tried to launch in China. The difficulty of competing with local rivals meant that in 2006, a mere two years after entering China, it was forced to admit defeat and shut down its main website in the country.
What would an international fractional CMO do?
Central to making a success of expansion into a new market is having a considered sales and marketing strategy, and, ideally, testing it. Marketing leadership at companies such as Procter & Gamble and Google both take strategic, analytical and methodical approaches when it comes to expansion into new territories. These tend to follow three steps, including working with clients and listening to customer wants and needs, running strategic experiments and tests, and developing all areas of the business in that location as if it were a new company and in line with their purpose-driven findings.
What we can learn from this is that strategy needs to place clients' needs, rather than personal convenience or even immediate logic, at the centre of the decision on which markets to consider. A part-time or fractional CMO or senior marketing consultant would work with you and your business leaders to analyse the market opportunities, as the best approach to achieving success in the targeted country markets is imperative.
A focus on nurturing relationships with clients, suppliers and other key parties may be more important to establishing your brand than an immediate focus on price points, and while only one new market may be on your radar today, your strategy should take into consideration how you may adapt the process to other markets, should the opportunity arise. All of these things will help you to develop a precision approach and, importantly, determine your investment, expected return and time frames.
The benefit of an outside perspective
Achieving all of these things can be daunting, but all it really requires is informed planning. With that in mind, you can see how an outside perspective and regional expertise could be helpful in making sure you get your international growth strategy right. Whether it’s one market or many that you’re looking to grow into, an international fractional Chief Marketing Officer or interim marketing director can provide that valuable external perspective to make sure you don’t waste money going down the wrong road.
If you’re thinking about expanding into new markets over the coming months and would like senior-level marketing support in developing a successful strategy, contact us to find the right fractional CMO services to meet your needs.