Have you reached a point with your business where you have saturated your local market? If so, then it’s time to transition from local to global. And more often than not, you can do it without ever leaving home. Here’s how.
1. Sell on eBay.
You never know who’s shopping. It could be a Wal-Mart buyer located in Brazil who sees your product, likes it and gets in touch to find out more information. Put yourself and your products out there. No platform is too small, especially if you can start using it fast and cheap with great sales results. The more online shopping platforms you use, the better!
2. Contact your website host to learn about e-commerce capabilities.
3. Partner with a global conglomerate to easily expand your business internationally.
Do you sell computer or printer accessories? Then talk to Brother to see how you might partner with them on international projects. What if you sell unique cookies? Connect with Starbucks. They’re located the world over, so why not see if you can service their stores one country at a time. Do you make high fashion beauty products? Try Sally Beauty Supply. The point is to establish relationships with companies that can take you global, without ever leaving home.
4. Attend a local trade show that offers a strong base of international customers.
To make connections and generate international business, I have both visited (walked the show) and exhibited (had a company booth) at local trade shows with international visitors. Examples of these shows are: Japan Foodex, International Home and Housewares Show in the United States and Anuga in Germany. All attract serious buyers/sellers from all over the world. After registering, you usually get an admission ticket, trade fair directory (invaluable) and an opportunity to take advantage of innovative online matchmaking services before and after the event.
5. Televise or YouTuberise something great you are working on.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Blendtec is a perfect example of how to market a product online with minimal expense and get sensational viewership (and hopefully customers)! They took a relatively simple blender and came up with a “Will It Blend?” viral marketing campaign via YouTube. From there, they have blended just about everything, with the latest being Justin Bieber paraphernalia. The whole drift of this YouTube channel reflects the idea of "less local, more global" in terms of its loyal international fan following.
6. Make your local customers walking and talking billboards to promote your brands worldwide.
Let’s say you sell cupcakes, mouse pads or cleaning products. What fun, complimentary products are you making that allow your customers to talk you up loud and clear? For example, are you producing boldly imprinted T-shirts with the name of your cupcakes on the front and back? Umbrellas that open up to show all your magnificent cleaning products or just your logo (e.g., Apple logo as pictured)? Everywhere your globetrotting customers go, folks will start talking about what they see, and they'll want to order it!
7. Offer your products to international e-commerce platforms beyond your home market.
Start with parts of the world that have a high Internet usage penetration. That would be North America, Oceania/Australia and Europe. For example, in the United States, we have eBay for buying and selling products online. There’s Alibaba in China and Indiaplaza in India.
8. Swap sales with like-minded, non-competing companies that are based in another country.
In other words, find a company that will offer your services in their local (to you – foreign) market, and you do the same for them. For instance, if you do design work in Ireland, you might find a partner in a company that does branding in Sweden. Voila – it's an alliance made in heaven that will get global business going. You can find these opportunities by practicing some of the points above.
9. Boost your marketing power by starting a blog and connecting with people on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
We would be remiss if we didn’t bring up the obvious: Your participation in social media and networking platforms can only boost your brand’s presence and power in the international marketplace. Refer to “Using LinkedIn to Market Your Import/Export Business Globally” and “LinkedIn: How to Pre-Qualify Import and Export Opportunities on LinkedIn” for additional tips.
Whatever way you choose to expand your business internationally, make it easy, fun and profitable.