International Business Development – 7 Initial Market Research Ideas

You want to get more international clients but don’t know where to start? Here is a simple plan for small businesses, or businesses who are highly motivated to expand internationally, but want to do it on a very small budget. This method also has the advantage of going one step at a time, giving you and your team the time to learn to adapt your products and sales procedures to different cultures.

Start with one targeting one country. If this is the first time you are expanding your business abroad, one country at a time is best. If you cannot decide which country to target first, come up with a short list of countries and go through the steps below for each country.

At this stage, it is a very good idea to break this research into part internet research and part phone call research. Do not by-pass the phone research. Fifteen minutes a day, over Skype, can give you much valuable information. You might even develop your first overseas business relationships.

Most importantly it will help you begin to evaluate the best way to position your products for best international sales results.

Here are some ideas to help you choose which country you would like to expand your business into.

1. Research your own client and prospect data base.

Go back as far as you can, to identify any foreign clients and look for any trends.

Are there any similarities?

Can you determine a specific country or area?

Can you organize a client survey to get more information?

2. Have a brief look online at where you competitors are overseas.

Check out the same information for other companies related to your industry which might not be competitors. You might share a similar target audience.

Is there a country in particular where your competitors are located?

Can you identify a country where you competitors appear to be trying to get into?

Can you see any trends, or angles to position your products?

3. Check which Internet Search Engines are the leaders in target country.

Search for keywords in those countries – use the advanced search options

This will give you a better idea of who your real competitors are in the target country.

Can you see any trends, or angles to position your products?

4. Research industry data

Look for differences in industry standards and regulations on the foreign country

Can you identify a foreign country with many companies in the same industry linked to companies within your industry in your country?

Can you see any trends, or angles to position your products

5. Research press articles, major publications.

Look for publications in your country and in the foreign country. Use the free online instant translation tools to get a good idea of what is in the news.

Can you identify the current key players?

Try to get an up-to-date feel for your industry in the foreign country targeted

Knowledge of recent events will give you something to talk about during your networking by phone.

6. Call any international clients you may have.

Ask them why they bought from you, were they happy, why they chose your company and try to get as much background information as possible about the foreign competition.

7. Keep online research to a minimum.

Simply get the names of the players and any major trends. Then move to the telephone. Start networking on the phone and continue.

Telephone networking will help you adapt your mindset to bring your company to international markets

Telephone conversation can provide you with more background information faster than you can get over the internet

Be sure to aim to speak to people with real insider knowledge of your industry in your foreign country. And look for various sources from different angles to get a broad view.

After a week or so, you should be feeling a direction towards one particular county. Continue your networking a little longer.

After a month or two or even a few weeks, if you methodically did your research through networking, you should feel comfortable in strategizing how you can sell one of your products in one specific foreign country.

You have to recognize that you will need to jump in without all of the information you would want. But you need to feel comfortable and have enough positive feedback to move forward.

This is the half of the second part of 8 Steps To Develop Your International Business. If you would like to get this full report it is yours free when you sign up for the Get International Clients newsletter.

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Cindy King