Regardless of whether companies have previous exporting experience or are entering markets for the first time, there are risks involved in exporting. It is crucial for companies to set clear goals and study the desired market before initiating new export sales growth activities. To help moderate the risks of various types of export marketing, it’s important to align exporting goals and activities, as well as ensure your company moves in a successful direction. Developing an export marketing plan is a critical step in any business’ market expansion efforts.
An export marketing plan will allow businesses to investigate their target market and determine how their products can successfully fit into it. There are huge differences between markets and countries that prevent the use of a “one size fits all” approach. The developed plan should function as one of the company’s most strategic and tactical documents and act as a guide for internal communication as it relates to international marketing strategies.
Although it applies strategies that are similar to domestic marketing, export marketing tends to be more challenging, since exporters must appeal to different ideals, cultures, and tastes.
The purpose behind creating an export marketing plan is to have clear and standard procedures to maintain organization and persistence in expansion, and to give lenders a reason to invest in your company and its new international activities. Consider the following tips while creating your international marketing strategy.
Tips for Creating an Export Marketing Plan
It is essential to build a detailed export marketing plan based on market research. Without a clear path on how to navigate and prepare for foreign markets, success might be difficult to achieve. All export objectives and strategies should be concise and well organized, so you can focus on the work at hand.
Some questions your business may need to think about while developing an export marketing plan are:
- Where do we want to export?
- Why are we choosing these markets?
- What do we want to export?
- What activities do we intend to perform?
- Is there government funding available for export marketing?
- How much in sales do we expect to generate and in what period?
While there are many factors to consider while developing an export marketing plan, keep in mind some of the following important dynamics that should be considered:
Study Cultural Differences
Companies need to be aware of local customs and business etiquette when choosing a market to tap into, as almost every country will be different. Modesty, cultural awareness, international negotiating abilities, and open-mindedness are all important factors to consider. It can be worthwhile to visit the country you’re targeting to learn more about culture and practices, though it is important to check the country’s travel advisory status prior to leaving.
Include an Entry Strategy and Marketing Mix
This section of the export marketing plan will outline the four P’s in detail:
- Product; and
Companies ready for export expansion need to know what they are bringing to the market, how the product/service will be distributed, how much money it will sell for, and how these goods and services will be promoted.
Develop a Situational Analysis
This will most likely be the lengthiest section of the export marketing plan, but it is important that you perform a thorough overview of your company, how it will fit in the foreign market, and how the market will receive your brand. A situational analysis will focus on factors like your company’s strengths and value proposition, social and cultural factors, legal factors in the foreign country, international market analysis, competitive industry analysis, and demographic and technological trends.
Create a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is a standard management exercise that assesses your company in the context of its internal and external environments and should be undertaken by all firms when planning export business activities. The analysis will identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the country you are planning to export to, providing an illuminating view of what your intentions should be as you move forward with the plan.
A budget needs to be realistic for your company in the current moment. This section of the export marketing plan should describe what the initial budget for your first export marketing steps will be and how many sales you are forecasting to generate in three to five years given your best realistic projections for future outcomes. Expenses to consider include marketing and promotion, communications, human resources, travel, office, and contingency costs. Moreover, there are often government funding opportunities to help with the budgeting process, such as a CanExport grant.
Know Your Target Country
As with any marketing initiatives, understanding your target country is crucial while developing an export marketing strategy. Factors that should be noted are the market size, exchange rate, population demographics, types of infrastructure, legal and tax systems, and the overall economy.
Leveraging CanExport for Export Marketing Funding
Among the various grants and loans available to Canadian businesses, the CanExport SMEs program offers a significant opportunity for businesses that are looking to expand into new international markets.
CanExport SMEs funding supports Canadian businesses seeking to develop new export markets and opportunities, particularly high-growth markets and sectors, by covering a portion of eligible sales and marketing expenses.
Applicants can access up to 50% of costs to a maximum of $50,000 per application.
For-profit companies incorporated in Canada, employing less than 500 full-time employees, and generating between $100,000 and $100 million in Canadian revenue may qualify.
An international market expansion project may be approved if it centres around export marketing initiatives such as virtual trade events, website SEO, marketing tools adaptation, IP/product certification, and market research. You can view a comprehensive list of eligibility criteria on the CanExport SMEs program page.
CanExport SMEs is a very popular program with varying applicant intakes. To confirm if the program is now accepting applications, please visit our CanExport SMEs program page. Approval is required before applicants incur eligible expenses. Applications are reviewed within 60 business days.
Advancing Your Export Expansion Journey with Grants
Many Canadian businesses have not yet ventured into international markets where their product or service could succeed. Whether your business is new to exporting or you’re exploring new international markets, it’s critical to know about the government funding support available to help reach these markets. Through a range of government incentive programs, companies can secure government grants for business expansion to subsidize the financial requirements of entering new markets and reduce the risks associated with exporting.
There are several federal and provincial government funding programs available for Canadian organizations, providing export development grants to cover costs of activities such as hiring export managers, development of marketing collateral, language and cultural adaptation, international trade show expenses, and product certifications.
Mentor Works has complied the most popular export expansion funding programs in the Accessing Grants for Export Activities slide deck. It is a valuable reference for those interested in taking their company to global heights and seeking opportunities to advance, manage, and finance their business’ strategic projects.
Download the Accessing Grants for Export Activities slide deck to learn how export development grants can support the international growth of your business.