Why Exporters Should Get In-Market Advice: My 5 Top Reasons

Why you should get in-market advice. My 5 top reasons.

In the course of 6+ years at the Embassy of Canada, I saw many aspiring exporters who had started their international expansion without much preparation. They certainly had never consulted us. They came to us only after running into a series of roadblocks, or a string of failure to launch their product. By that time, they were often growing a bit bitter and blaming the market for their lack of success. One client in fact seemed to think the German government was actively conspiring to keep their product out of the market. We are talking about a specialized consumer product priced in the three figures. I think they simply had the wrong sales strategy.

My advice to you: As soon as you start to consider a new market, seek local advice and knowledge. Talk to your Embassy in that country, to a Chamber of Commerce, to a business association.

Why do I recommend doing that?

Reason #1: They Know the Market

Every markets is different. Perhaps you are already exporting to several foreign markets and consider yourself very experienced. Still, chances are that there are things about your new target market that you don’t know. You can find out the hard way, or you can learn from someone in-market. Your Embassy, for instance, will have talked to other exporters. Learn from other people’s mistakes, check your own assumptions, make better business decisions.

Reason #2: They Can Alert You to Regulatory Issues

If your product does not meet local regulatory requirements, you cannot sell it. And these requirements may vary from market to market. So do not believe that just because you are fully compliant with your home country’s requirements, you are good to go anywhere else as well. (Contrary to popular belief, the US does not necessarily always have the strictest requirements worldwide.)

Use in-market resources to learn about the specific requirements for your product and processes. For instance, at the Canadian Embassy, we had more than one request for help from exporters who had realized at the 11th hour that they would need an Importer of Record for German customs. Their products were compliant, but they had never considered how to import goods into Germany or the EU.

Reason #3: They Can Recommend Professional Service Providers

Chances are that at some point in your export journey, you will need some outside help, especially in terms of legal, tax, and/ or other regulatory. You can search the internet or flip through the Yellow Pages to find someone suitable. Or you can get a local recommendation – someone who has been vetted, has worked with foreign exporters before and understands the issues they are facing.

Reason #4: They Know About Commercial Opportunities

Your government may have funding opportunities for exporters. There may be international R&D collaboration opportunities for companies like yours. A Ministry or Association may be running a trade mission or a country pavillion at a trade show, or there may even be a relevant public procurement procedure in your target country.

There may be lots of initiatives that can benefit you but of which you are unaware. Your Embassy or Chamber of Commerce will be especially well-placed to alert you to such opportunities and to connect you to the right people.

Reason #5: They Know the Local Language and Business Culture

Particularly if you are from an Anglophone country, it is easy to forget that not everyone speaks English as their first language. It is also easy to underestimate the importance of the local language. Perhaps your brand name sounds ridiculous or even offensive to your target customers. Perhaps your marketing materials are not very well suited. Perhaps you have translations that are not very good.

Even if you have studied the language of your target country, you may still be unfamiliar with subtle nuances. Studying English from age 10, I have been taken for a native speaker of English for many years. However, when I lived in the UK, I repeatedly found myself in situations where I thought, „Wait, what?“ I understood the words, but there were just these tiny details no one had ever taught me. Not an issues in everyday life, but potentially a big deal in business.

Likewise, business culture is not the same everywhere and you are well advised to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of your target country.

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