export: how to develop an export marketing plan

It is important for an exporter to have clear objectives and to study the markets before starting an export sales plan. An export sales/marketing plan allows companies to create a plan to sell their products overseas without much hassle. Success can be elusive for a business unless it has a clear path on how to navigate foreign markets.

One of the first questions that comes to mind when creating an export marketing plan is where to export? Avoid the top 10 countries for quick wins, suggests Amit Kumar, co-founder and CEO of MSMEx. “You shouldn’t complicate your journey when export markets have greater uncertainties anyway. The best way is to leave out the top 10 countries – like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, China, Japan, South Africa, South Korea – and list other countries where your product has potential,” he says. .

While the top 10 countries would surely have the highest demand, it also leads to strong competition and demand for world-class quality. There is no room for error in these big markets, which can be brutal. This may not be the best path for a beginner. “Therefore, it is better to make inroads in the rest of the world. And once your business gains confidence and the product is able to meet demand, start targeting key markets,” he says.

Another fundamental question is which product to export. If you’re a company with a variety of products, Kumar suggests starting with your best product. This will give you confidence in quality, supply and after-sales service. “The export market generally demands world-class quality and is covered by cross-border standards. So you should always start by putting your best foot forward,” he says.

Personalization is key

It’s important for manufacturers to realize that the one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work for exports. Milan Thakkar, CEO of Walplast, advises companies to be open to new ways of doing business and explore multiple types of business opportunities. “Don’t assume that you can necessarily sell your product without modifying it and/or its packaging,” he says.

When presenting the products, Kumar stresses that it is necessary to highlight the best in the exported product. But entrepreneurs should not explain too much because it can lead to confusion or information overload. “Once we know what and how to talk about our product and our company, we need to finalize the marketing channel through which we can communicate effectively and efficiently. The most effective channels are trade events and exhibitions. These days virtual events are also working properly because of the Covid situation,” he says.

The pandemic has led to changes in export operations, primarily due to restrictions on face-to-face interactions.

Communicate clearly

Kumar suggests that exporters should focus on smaller order sizes with shorter cycles to start with. At the same time, communication must be laser-centric. This helps build buyer confidence. He advises taking the help of consultants and sales agents for this task.

“Digital presences and digital profiles of business owners and their businesses provide good mileage when the customer who completes the transaction is going to use information available in digital form,” he says.

Although there is no rulebook for trading in a Covid-era world, Thakkar says many organizers of major events have launched virtual exhibitions online to seize business opportunities and that people participate significantly in these events.

Things to keep in mind for a smooth export marketing plan:

  • For early wins, look for countries other than the world top 10
  • Major economies may have high demand but may see stiff competition
  • Start with your best product because you will have a strong supply chain in this line
  • Be prepared to make changes to your product as the need arises in new markets
  • Thoroughly research and analyze your company’s long-term plans in the new market
  • Keep a realistic forecast of your sales and revenue for the next 3-5 years

There are myriad challenges when planning and executing an export marketing plan. Thakkar highlights one of the most important: small and medium-sized businesses facing challenges in product changes and lack of knowledge.

“Finding information on foreign markets is difficult and time-consuming. This is followed by lengthy licensing and documentation processes for small and medium enterprises looking to export,” he adds.

Kumar says this observation is correct. Lack of knowledge is the most dangerous and detrimental obstacle, because everything else can be solved. “In global markets, your competition is among the best. And information and knowledge are the best tools to win,” he adds.

(The one-stop destination for MSMEs, ET RISE provides news, views and analysis on GST, exports, finance, policy and small business management.)

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