This Wednesday 14th March, Bolst Global attended a grow global conference in Wakefield organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) with the topic of how to start taking your firm international. We had the chance to follow a very useful presentation and learn essential keys to an efficient international marketing from Norma Foster, a very energetic expert in export strategy and communication. She presented the following ten tips to successful overseas communication, insisting particularly on the importance that digital marketing plays on an international level.
#1 Think global, act local
In your international communication, you have to be bold and show your clients you are responsive to their local language, culture and needs. This does not mean you cannot have certain regions where you consider yourself to be a specialist (a bit like we do at Bolst Global!), it just means you must be able to give the impression that you can sell your product or service all over the world, to serve customers with the same quality no matter where they are. Think and plan globally but act locally.
#2 Choose your internet domain wisely
When creating your website, the smallest details matter. The domain you choose will determine your future success and condition who finds you online. If you are British and choose the domain “.co.uk”, your website won’t appear or way less often in the searches of people outside the UK. When searching on Google from France, results will be “.fr”, in Germany “.de” and so on. It is very rare and much harder to find a foreign domain when you are abroad. This is why you should favour the .com domain, which is a worldwide domain. These websites appear everywhere in the world.
#3 Find your niche
Showing you can offer many different products and services may feel like you remain open to as many business opportunities as possible. However, it is important to find your niche and show you are a specialist in certain areas or product offering because ultimately this will attract the most suitable potential customers to you. By showing experience and knowledge in a specific area this encourages clients to trust you.
#4 Offer linguistic choice on your website
It seems important to remind some native English speakers that there is a WHOLE world out there that does not speak English or only uses it as a second language. In the world of international business, where you are constantly in contact with people from other cultures and countries, you (and by you I mean native English speakers) must absolutely remember that although English is your native language and is considered a lingua franca, you cannot expect everyone to adapt to you and use your language at all times. On the internet, only less than a third of the content is in English and the majority of Internet users speak a language other than English and favour pages in their native languages. Most customers when buying online will not engage in a purchase if they can’t make it in their native language. A majority of Internet users will also abandon a search or be put off if they cannot read the contents of your website in their native language. Thus, it is vital that you translate your website into other keys languages to target your customers, incite their trust and show you care for them. You can either translate your website or create a whole new local domain for the local clients.
#5 Define your strategy
As I’ve said before, language is very important in language searches. A Bulgarian will get websites in Bulgarian when searching on Google before getting anything in English or any other language. You must define a clear strategy: do you want to target clients that speak a language or a particular geographical website with your marketing and communication? It is not the same to target francophone clients as French clients or Latin-American clients as opposed to Spanish-speaking ones. Define your strategy as clearly as possible!
#6 Make contacting you easy
This seems quite clear: on your website it must be as easy as possible to contact you. Your phone number, email address, links to social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn especially) and postal address must be put on the foreground. If potential clients want to contact you but struggle finding your email, they will likely give up and turn to your competitors. So give them various methods of communication that they can use to contact you.
#7 Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
This is linked to number #6: maybe you would prefer for customers to call you but you must consider what they would prefer, what would be easier for them. Always put yourself in their shoes. Are they native English speakers? If so, maybe calling won’t bother them. Are they Chinese, Argentinian, Polish? Then they will probably favour sending an email because it will give them time to look for vocabulary online, to check that what they are saying is clear and they will have less difficulty understanding your answer. When speaking a foreign language, whatever that language is, phone calls are the hardest form of communication possible because the quality of the call is never great, you cannot see the person’s eyes, facial expressions and lip movements and there often are lots of parasite noises. So offer choice in the possible means to contact you and put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
Business is made between people, not companies. At the heart of business and especially business communication is trust: you must show the client you are trustworthy and incite them to trust your company and products or services. Adapting your website, addressing them in their language, being easy to contact…all these tips actually aim at inciting customer trust. Be as transparent as possible. You can for example have a page “About us” or similar where you put pictures of all your employees, with their names, contact details. Seeing their faces will help the customer understand who they are dealing with and bring back a human dimension to business. Websites are great, efficient, global but they make business a bit impersonal, that’s why it’s important to find new ways to show who you are and who is behind your company’s name.
#9 Adapt to the language of the buyer
In an ideal scenario the buyer or potential customer should be addressed in his/her language. By doing so they are more likely to take the time to listen to you, to have a look at your products, to trust you – whether it is online, on your product packaging or on your marketing materials. Think of it this way: when was the last time you bought something on a website in a foreign language? When was the last time you paid attention to a commercial that was not in your native language? When was the last time you bought a product on which everything was written in a foreign language?
#10 Always plan
Business communication and marketing cannot be improvised!!! You must define a clear strategy, choose your target, think about the layout, colours, contents of your website. Choose a strategic domain, translate it into relevant languages…all this takes careful consideration and planning. And don’t underestimate the importance of communication: your business exists in the minds of the customers only through your communication!
So that’s it and thanks to Norma Foster once again for sharing her insights. If you would like further details on the services we provide, please click here.