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Maximise international sales with strategic marketing support

“Finding good distributors is a real challenge! Once you have found a distributor that ‘fits’ with your business, how do you motivate them to sell more and just as importantly, how do you sell more or extend the range of products and services you sell to them? Communicating with people where English is not their first language can be difficult, as such communications must be kept clear, concise and to the point.

This requires your sales messages, features and benefits to be straight forward and easy to understand, not only by your distributors, but ultimately by their clients as well. Don’t expect them to simplify your complicated and convoluted explanations - you must do it for them to ensure the message is your message presented in the way that best suits your product and market positioning, taking into account the local environment and culture.

You need to be clear on your strategy - why this market, what are the objectives, how will you measure success? You need to set out what you will offer to the distributor and what you expect them to do for you in return. This strategy needs to be communicated clearly, not only to your (prospective) distributors, but also internally so that everyone knows what you are aiming to achieve.

To build up a network of good professional distributors you need to think long and hard about how you support them. What exactly comprises your support package – this is not just pricing and delivery, it’s also about training, technical information and access to data. Once you enter the world of export the standard working day goes out of the window and all of the information has to be available 24/7. The internet is an ideal communications portal provided you have the information collated and easily accessible.

You also need to think about keeping control of your brand. To ensure this, you need to provide the right marketing support to prevent distributors taking matters into their own hands and creating something that inadvertently damages your brand, rather than enhancing it. Thought should be given to producing branded templates to ensure global brand consistency across all documents and marketing materials, taking into account the nuances of the various regions. The same goes for exhibitions, adverts, PR and social media channels - clear brand guidelines will help ensure a consistent corporate identity.

Once you have a comprehensive marketing and support package in place, you need to think about how you sell it. Go back to basics and ask your distributors, who may have a number of products in their portfolio, which ones are they going to promote the most? The answer is simple; the one that they feel most comfortable with, is easiest to sell and support and ultimately the one that makes them the most money! The marketing support package cannot do anything about the pricing policy, but it can address the comfort and ease of selling. Investment in a sound, well thought out strategy and a comprehensive scalable distributor support package goes a long way to making sales in export markets successful.

Export marketing is not a simple case of hiring a distributor, sending some demo product, throwing in a bit of product training and leaving them to do the rest. Export market success is directly proportional to the amount of effort invested. Successful marketing in the UK usually comprises a mix of online and off line activities utilising communication channels most likely to resonate with the target audience. This can include a company website, email marketing campaigns, printed materials, exhibition and event attendance, PR and social media and advertising.

This communications mix is no different in export markets - it is true to say that different markets have bias to certain channels of communication, but nevertheless they all require a mix of activities. With this in mind your distributor support package needs to address these activities, particularly if your distributor network is already established – it is up to you to ensure your network is open to the idea of using new channels that have the potential to generate additional sales. The phenomenal growth in the use of social media in B2B activities is a prime example of this.

You must also give some thought to your company’s global web presence - do you simply translate your existing site and allow access via flags or a country listing, or do you buy local domains, have local language sites which you then host locally? Which strategy best suits your own objectives and how do you decide and make the most from the opportunities these options provide should be given careful consideration – it could mean the difference between a  website  that performs and meets its objectives, or a site that is rarely visited and doesn’t bring any tangible results to your business.”

Pepperneck’s Business Development Director, Ian Woodward, is part of a team of highly experienced international marketing experts. Ian has more than 29 years’ experience in international sales and marketing. He has worked for a number of companies that sell their products globally, working his way up to become a Company Director in 1993. He has specific experience in establishing and managing international distributor networks to maximise brand awareness and sales and his personal experience is invaluable to Pepperneck’s clients whose export sales play a significant part in their operations.

If you would like to find out more about how Pepperneck can support your business with its international marketing efforts, please contact Ian Woodward by emailing  iwoodward@pepperneck.com or calling 01684 578546 to arrange a meeting.

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