In a world where savvy small businesses can mature into monolithic corporations, "marketing plan" means more than a brochure here and a poster there. And it takes on added importance when moving an entrepreneurial concept overseas.
Jonathan Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum's New York City ad agency, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, has helped clients such as Keds, Snapple, Citibank and Blimpie get publicity here and abroad. Before you take the plunge into foreign markets, check out their tips for going global:
1. Cut the number of markets you're planning to enter in half. International marketing takes more time and resources than you think, and it's better to succeed in five markets than to fail in 10.
2. If you don't have a strong partner in a market, think twice before entering it alone. Co-branding has become an effective way for companies to expand their presence.
3. Don't be arrogant. Adjust your attitude when you go overseas; don't assume your reputation precedes you.
4. Think guerrilla. You generally have less prestige and fewer resources in an overseas market, so strategize accordingly.
5. Be selective. Just because somebody wants to distribute your product in another country doesn't mean you should let them--you could end up working with a scam artist. You should select the partner and market, not the reverse.
6. Change your mind-set. Before you can get past the business barrier of operating in another country, you must get over the emotional one. We're taught that America is the best country in the world and the best place to do business. You must train yourself to think with an export mentality, like smaller countries do, to compete in a global marketplace.
7. Think psychographically, not just geographically. Upscale travelers from different countries often have more in common with each other than with their fellow countrymen. For instance, New York City and London are more alike than New York City and Phoenix.
8. Resist the familiar. Don't assume it's smart to hire an American or push the products that sell best in the United States. Be conscious of your national biases, and recognize when you are letting them influence your decisions.
9. Learn foreign countries' perceptions of "fair play." What is considered a corrupt business practice in the United States may be accepted as legal in another country.