As the marketplace expands to cover more and more of the globe, you’re going to realize your competition may not just be the guy across the street. It might be a guy in Mexico or China. The big difference in having competition in another country is that you can’t simply focus on defensive measures to preserve your business. You must start thinking about offense – what you can do to increase your market share by expanding your client base.
Say you own a little pizza shop. Now I’m not going to pretend that it’s a good idea to figure out ways to deliver pizzas to China, but what I am telling you is that you can find a way to market yourself overseas. Here’s how you can make it work:
- Convert your offering to information. Pizzas don’t travel well, but books and videos do! Whether you create a series of videos sharing your tips and secrets on running a small business, or whether you create a recipe book based on your Italian grandmother’s recipes, one of the best ways to cultivate business all over the globe is by creating a unique product that’s easily marketable online.
- Embrace the power of Skype. While you may not be able to shake the hands of the folks buying your new recipe book in other countries, what you can do is have a small bookshop conduct a Q&A Skype session for the people buying your book. You can use Skype to meet your fans and give them a personal connection to you and your brand.
- Leverage your culture. The US has cultural capital, and there’s no reason not to cash in on it! Establish yourself as a uniquely American business (with a plan that will work in other countries as well.) If you’re selling your business model and sharing coaching tips, you can even promote cross-cultural awareness by encouraging your new international contacts to share the difficulties and successes they face in other countries.
- Play up the pen pal effect. So you’re helping other businesses get on their feet … why not send them a little piece of your home country? Receiving fun mail is increasingly uncommon. Just think about how excited your international customers would be to get a handwritten letter from you. Whether you reach out to bookstores selling your wares, or whether you ship a personalized thank you to people working on establishing a business that’s modeled after yours, your contact will make your brand memorable.
- Find a way to handle other currencies. Whether you use PayPal or one of the other services that facilitates money transfers among different currencies, make sure you’re prepped so pesos and euros don’t keep you from completing sales. Being able to work with other currencies lets you reach far more clients.
- Establish a local presence. Once you get a foothold in another country, it’s important to signal your appreciation for and dedication to that business. Whether you schedule personal appearances or establish a local bank account, consider getting more deeply involved in those communities who support your business.
It’s a big old world out there, and there are more potential customers every day. Think big. Think global. Find some way to package your business for an international audience, and you’ll reap the benefits.