Roll up roll up!

So, you have a product you’re confident there’s a demand for overseas.

It’s tempting to think that the target audiences in the country you’re looking to export to, are the same as in the UK. It is highly likely there’ll be strong similarities of course but there could be differences and not just in the audiences themselves, but the way in which they buy products like yours; what influences them; whether they have a ‘try before you buy’ mentality and more. Your products could have a potential appeal to trade or business purchasers overseas too even though in the UK you sell predominantly to consumers.

You won’t know until you do some digging!

Don’t overlook the importance of engaging in some target audience research. The internet, social media, the business section of your local library, enquiring in the country itself as to how you can find out this information prior to exporting – will pay dividends.

What should you be looking to find out?

  1. The likely size of your entire audience – how many people each year buy the product(s) you sell? And is the market in growth, plateau or decline? A flat market is not necessarily bad news. But if the market you are looking to enter is not growing you’re going to have to be very canny at carving out a difference good enough to tempt people to abandon existing suppliers in favour of you. Having a ‘me too’ product in a flat market will prove to be a real challenge.
  2. Segment your big audience into groups defined by their need for your product and by the data that will enable you to target them. For example if you are exporting a beauty product you would want to separate out beauticians; health practitioners, salon owners, hairdressers, colleges offering courses etc. You will want to group your audiences geographically if you plan on targeting some or indeed all on a territory by territory basis. When you are looking at each group you need to make a judgement call on the audiences you are going to target first off; known as your VIPs. Your decision to target them will be influenced by a number of factors such as ease of entry; initial and ongoing demand; simple structure for selling through; low cost of entry.
  3. Who and what influences each one of your target audiences? Bloggers, celebrities; certain publications, key business people; government policy; the economy? People rarely buy in a vacuum so it pays to understand what is surrounding them that sway them to buy. You are going to want to tap into some of these influences and to reflect them in your subsequent marketing.
  4. How does each one of your audiences arrive at the decision to buy? Free trials, tests; demonstrations? What are the dominant triggers you must be aware of?
  5. Is the decision to buy made on a group basis (more than one person is involved in the decision to buy) or on an individual basis? Again you must know this so that your marketing messages hit the sweet spot.
  6. How does each audience physically buy your product(s)? You must understand the channels through which they buy and the most dominant channels that really drive demand. For example there may be a strong internet demand for your product which cuts out the need to pay distributors and stockists. Some of your audiences may buy through resellers – retail and trade. There may be an even split.

What I find interesting when I do this exercise with a business looking to export is that it helps them to market their business in the UK too. And this is because few businesses go into the real detail of finding out who their target audiences are. But if you want your marketing to be lean and effective you have to know who you are targeting and why.

Please get in touch if you need some help in this area.

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