Having Trouble Expanding Outside of Your Locale? Here’s What to Do

15 Feb

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Having relatively easy access to the global audience is a terrible temptation. Many companies try to expand before they are ready or expand too quickly. However, there is simply too much business outside of the local area to ignore. Here are some tips to safely expand beyond your local reach, using technology and your competitive advantages to maintain your ROI.

Studying the Target Cultures

Whether you are expanding into new areas around your country or moving internationally, there are differences in culture that you must address. You may need to tweak your marketing campaign to coincide with these cultural differences, which may turn into a segmentation of your outreach channels as well. For instance, Facebook is a viable B2B channel in Eastern Europe, but not so much in South America.

Complying With New Regulations

Before you can legally do business in a new area, you must be sure that you are in compliance with local regulations. In most cases, you will need to expand your partnerships with legal and financial counsel outside of your local area as your business expands. Ask your current professional partners if they have leads on competent advisors in your new business locale.

Stepping Back in the Sales Process

The financial backing for your expansion likely comes from a financial surplus that you have achieved in your local area. Most likely, you have been able to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing and a loyal consumer base to reduce your marketing costs. Everyone already knows about you, tells a friend, and once they try you, they stick around. This will not be the case in new jurisdictions. You will need to budget for customer acquisition efforts again. Do this now so that you are not surprised in the middle of a campaign.

Budgeting for New Logistics

Currency fluctuations, transportation costs, import/export duties – these are just a few of the new expenses that you will be taking on. It is usually best to invest in a software package that can estimate these costs for you and factor them in to new shipments. You may need to reset your pricing based on these new fixed costs and you need to know exactly what they are.

Determining a Business Structure

In many cases, simply setting up your business properly in new jurisdictions can save you a great deal of money. You may also have to share ownership of a foreign-owned subsidiary with a local agent. Look into the best way to represent yourself to your new locations, whether that is through a representative, a direct branding effort, or working through a larger distributor and simply providing a product.

Looking for Financing

Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to connect with government resources to defray some of the costs of expansion. For instance, the Export-Import Bank of the United States is a great resource for companies that are looking to do business overseas. The Ex-Im bank has helped American companies to the tune of $300 billion since 1934 with capital loans for exporters and even supplying loans for foreign purchasers of American goods and services.

Using Technology to Expand

TradeNet is an invaluable resource for companies that are looking to expand outside of the United States. You can find databases, personal anecdotes from experienced international sellers, and hard contacts from companies and buyers who are looking to partner with you.

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The Building Blocks for a Killer Marketing Plan in 2018

13 Feb

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2018 is here and your competition is gearing up for a new generation of business. You may not know how to direct your efforts, but there are some proven performance improvements that you can take to make a real difference. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important steps:

Fully Responsive Websites/A Mobile-First Strategy

The most robust of your marketing efforts will fall short if there is no destination for your new customers. It is one thing to improve your pure customer acquisition numbers; it is quite another to see those numbers through to an appropriate number of conversions. This is why you must set your destination pages up before you start spending money on the outreach.

If you do not have a fully responsive website, get one. If you do, begin focusing on a mobile-first strategy that brings your new innovations to those responsive sites first. Business continues to find its way into the mobile space–this is a trend that you can count on in 2018.

Enriching Your Content

Content was king in 2017. Rich content will be king in 2018. Google recently imposed new rules in the mobile space that will seriously regulate interstitials and other intrusive tactics that may have worked for you. If you want to keep your mobile-friendly tags, you will modify your strategy to include richer content inside of the new, narrower parameters that Google has set up.

Rich content is one of the best investments that you can make. Do it now before the rest of your industry catches up–you will be able to solidify market share as a first responder in the space for localized, highly relevant keywords. You can bet that Google will bring its “grandfather clauses” into the mobile space as well, rewarding sites with older content that remains relevant as time goes on.

Utilizing Social Influencers

Even in the B2B space, the use of social influencers is beginning to ramp up. As a matter of fact, products bought at a higher scale are perfect fodder for the indirect marketing that social influencers have mastered. You can also rely on this content to remain up for indeterminate amounts of time, reducing the amount of remarketing that you have to invest in.

Social influencers also cost less than traditional forms of advertising. The best of them also keep their own demographic and psychographic stats. You should be able to have a fairly in-depth conversation with a few of them before choosing your final partner.

Thought Leadership

Not all 2018 marketing strategies are focused on technology alone. The perspective that you bring is the aspect of your marketing that will set your company apart, assuming that you have your content on the proper channels and optimized to the correct audience.

Make this the year that your business becomes a thought leader in your industry. Do not be afraid of cannibalizing your business by providing free value or even how to tips. Buyers prefer to purchase from partners that showcase expertise. Buyers also like to think that the purchase was their idea. The more you keep them coming back for hot, relevant tips and important industry conversations, the more natural the buy will be to them once it takes place.

 

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How to Really Build Your B2B Sales Rapport

8 Feb

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As our world becomes more trapped in technology, you can bet that your big customers will expect more personalization than ever. This is just how customers work – in the absence of huge technological divides, buyers often choose business partners over customer service issues. Here are the best and most creative ways to really build your rapport when conducting sales.

Research Your Target

It is easier than ever to conduct research on decision makers for prospective buyers. LinkedIn should become your sales floor’s best friend. Use this information to establish a more personal connection. Start from the very beginning of the call – ask for the target by name, not for the “person in charge of X or Y.”

And yes–depending on the acuity of your salespeople, it may be best to just hang up the phone if you cannot talk to the decision maker that you have researched. A bad call will get around the office. If your target is a high-ranking executive, you may never get to him or her if the gatekeepers do not like you.

Personal Conversations Work

Your prospects know what you are there for. You do not have to push sales in the modern business landscape. As a matter of fact, big buyers hate this strategy. The Internet has spoiled us all, and we carry our entitled one-click-away attitudes straight into our phone calls.

Use the information that you have gleaned from your pre-call work to begin the call on a personal note. Use real-time events as well. Is it close to a holiday, or is it around lunchtime in the workday? Do you have a common interest or even an alma mater? Perhaps management can set up the calls on the sales floor to match agents with clients on one of these points before the calls are even made.

Honesty is the Best Policy

There are no secrets in the Age of Information. Do not try to lie your way into a sale. More importantly, realize that all of those “safe responses” are bringing you any closer to a sale–your prospect is getting bored and looking for an out. If you want to create rapport with your customers, you must open the lines of communication through honesty.

Many prospects come into a conversation with a salesperson thinking that salesperson will say anything to make a close. If you divert that notion with blunt honesty, you disarm your prospect. They will begin listening to you more, which means that you can sell more easily (when you get to that part of the conversation).

Getting the Small Yes

If you get a small yes on an innocuous subject, you can get the yes’s that really matter later on. This is why you begin the conversation on common subjects and stay off business for the first few minutes. You want to get your prospect in a habit of saying “yes” to you.

Ask questions that lead naturally into a yes at the beginning of the conversation. You may get some “no’s,” but keep your attitude positive. Your prospect will appreciate this, trust you more, and give you more “yes’s” as you build rapport.

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Is Quora’s New Ad Program Really Good for B2B Marketers?

6 Feb

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Advertisers, in general, are overwhelmingly positive about the new Quora ad program, which came out of beta earlier in 2017. The new self-serve program allows advertisers to target and create text-based ads at their fingertips. However, the scale of the platform limited its use initially for B2B marketers, although the low Cost Per Clicks and new target base made it highly tempting for businesses of all sizes.

In recent months, Quora has made rumblings that it will change the ad program to be more easily scalable. With this elephant out of the room, B2B marketers will have very little to keep them from using this new soon-to-be behemoth. However, there are some other factors that companies should consider before making a final decision, because Quora may not be for everyone. Let’s take a look.

Quality of Traffic

B2C and smaller scale B2B companies report a high level of quality traffic when advertising on Quora. This is even when Quora is compared to industry giants, Facebook and Google. As a matter of fact, the size of those platforms may actually be what contributes to the lower level of qualified traffic. Quora question pages receive only the people who are looking for a very specific answer–Google and Facebook ads both suffer greatly from casual viewer runoff.

Traffic Volume

Despite its lower level of traffic when compared to the big dogs, most advertisers report that Quora has enough traffic to meet their needs. Large-scale B2B firms should worry less about this metric, as total traffic volume has never equated to conversions from those few decision makers who actually have the money to make a purchase at scale.

Advertising Cost

As stated before, Quora has a lower Cost Per Click than either Google or Facebook when similar keywords are compared. It remains to be seen if Quora will be able to keep the platform competitive as more companies (with higher marketing budgets) join in on the service. The type of content on Quora (long, detailed questions) does favor long tail keywords. This works in favor of advertising costs, as advertisers are more likely to choose long tail keywords that are relevant to less of its competition. With more segmented advertising, costs can actually stay quite low for everyone while total volume grows on the platform.

Quora’s Limitations

Quora is a relatively new platform for advertising, and bugs are expected. The campaigns that companies run can be focused on topic, device, and location, although the two latter categories are not quite as sophisticated as Quora’s competition. Companies that build an audience through device and location may want to invest more slowly, although all indications point to Quora upgrading its systems in the near future and staying abreast of search engine industry standards.

Day One Performance

The day one performance of companies that are already using Quora is positive, regardless of the metric being used. Any company that already has an organic presence on Quora is doing especially well in terms of lead contribution. The cost per conversion from a lead generated through Quora has a chance of being much lower than a lead generated through Google or Facebook, because of the higher quality of Quora leads. The one complaint that most users had was that Quora was not using enough of its newfound revenue to expand operations more quickly.

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Deciding Which Trade Shows to Attend This Year

1 Feb

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The personal relationships and business reputation that you can develop through trade shows is an ROI that you cannot really obtain anywhere else. However, you need to attend the right shows to make sure that you are building the personal relationships and business reputation that actually matter. Your business is probably on a budget as well. Even if you have multiple shows to attend, you may have to make a choice. Here is a short post on how to choose the trade shows to attend this year.

Defining Your Intent

Before you begin looking up keynote speakers and planning logistics, plan out the objectives for your year. The trade shows that might increase your overall leads may not be the same shows that would be best for a new product launch or a loyalty plan.

Shortening the Discovery Process

There are quite a few trade show calendars that you can search for new ideas on what to attend. Before you get a shortlist, you should look around a bit. New shows are popping up all over the world. The globalized economy is more connected than ever, and you may find a show that you did not even know existed. Here is a good calendar to get you started.

Studying the Event History

Once you find a number of interesting shows, you can check the history of those shows online. In the same way that you might check a review for a restaurant before going, you can now check the event history of shows. Take a look at the comments that other attendees have left in past years. Cross-reference their feedback with the goals you set for your business when defining your intent.

Getting the Timing

You may be able to attend more shows with a little logistics work at the beginning of the year. Shows that are close to each other may save you money on travel costs. You may be able to bring exhibits from one show to another that is within the same time frame. You should also consider how the timing of shows coincides with your internal schedule. For instance, a new product expo is no good if you are not going to be done with your prototype.

Looking at the Press

In order to shorten your list, you should look at the additional marketing opportunities that each show offers you. Some shows will have sponsorship opportunities or have speaking slots that you can use to advertise. Prioritize the shows that have the highest ROI, and contact them early to get on these special lists.

Segmenting Your Audience

The total number of attendees at a trade show is much less important than you may think. You want the right people, not the most people. Although the global audience is great to touch, realize that around 50% of attendees at a trade show will come from a 200-mile radius. Is this local audience important to you? If not, then you may be able to skip the show.

Creating a Budget

You now have a shortlist of trade shows and the schedule to attend them. It is time to get the budget together to attend them all. There is a reason that the money comes after the planning stage–hopefully, you have chosen shows that will expand your profitability. If this is the case, then the upfront cost should not matter. If all of your shows brings you $100,000, then a $10,000 expense, no matter how painful in the short term, is always worth it.

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