Australia is a country of 25 million people, so relative to the world, we’re an incredibly small market. This limits business opportunities, so its common to look beyond our country to focus on other regions and often a global audience. Australian businesses have a long history of expanding beyond out island to become international success stories, with Atlassian, Canva and Afterpay providing a few great examples.
Most businesses will dream of increasing profit margins with the products and services they offer, but often its thought of within the context of their existing markets and customer-base. With the increased prevalence of mobile phones and connectivity across the globe, potential buyers can come from any region, if you’re willing to do the work.
The prospect of opening a retail outlet in another country is monumental, but opening you virtual doors to customers who live in another part of the world, is far easier.
By diversifying your customers geographically, it can help you solve seasonal demand spikes and assist in reaching greater scale, meaning suppliers better price per units could be achieved from suppliers.
Once you’ve done the hard work to setup for international distribution, you then need to let the world know and start attracting new customers. Below are some practical tips to find clients from another country.
Start with your Network
The very first place you should look at is your own network. Chances are, you have friends, family or business contacts in other countries. This could be your launchpad to new introductions, with the right contact who can help you realise your dreams, just a phone call or an email away.
Things do get more complex if you’re moving into a country where you don’t speak the same language, but you certainly wouldn’t be pioneering a move like this and there’s a lot of translation services available.
You may be surprised how many people you know that are in different countries and even if you’re immediate circle of contacts aren’t, posting on your social media channels, asking for help, could definitely give you a great head start.
The challenge is certainly greater if you are drop shipping physical goods, rather than expanding an online business to a new market. Of course there’s timezone, language, financial differences before you even start to explore cultural differences, but shortlisting a set of key contacts who can assist you will be useful. Even if there is a remote chance that they can helpful, you should at least ask them, it’s free and most people are fairly generous with their time.
Referral programs are a great idea, offering a mutual benefit to the 3rd party being involved. If they help you get sales, in a new market, you can share part of the revenue with them, once you understand your new cost of doing business.
It’s also a great idea to consider expansion in multiple countries and if one isn’t particularly successful, you’ll mitigate expansion costs by having a diversified audience. Digital businesses also have an advantage here, but remember local laws apply for warranty and returns of goods.
Attend international events
Its a great idea to look for events around that you, or a close contact could attend to gain a better understanding of that market. With Covid-19 travelling will be difficult, but we are seeing things open up and being proactive compared to competitors, may lead to success.
Many events have gone digital, so attending has become easier and cheaper. TechMeme run a calendar of events for tech, but whatever your industry, there’s likely to be comparable calendars online. For example, International Sourcing Expo Australia is among the most popular of business events that could prove really useful for businessman trying to global.
Regardless of who introverted you are as a person, key to your success will be the ability to build good communication skills and be open to making small talk when attending these events. You have to socialise and build relationships with potential customers or partners.
Use digital marketing
The internet is the best friend a business could have. You can find and reach out to your target audience through digital marketing. Advertising in 2021 and beyond is less a guessing game a more of a science, with targeted ads offering far greater return on investment than traditional advertising.
Advertising online offers the unique ability to understand total cost to acquire a customer. By monitoring the traffic to your digital storefront and ultimately the final sale, you can understand directly how effective an ad really is, but key to all of that is being shown in search results.
Millions of your potential customers in your target country, use search engines and social media to find products and services to enhance their personal and professional lives.
Investing time, effort and money on improving your website’s ranking in search, can have a profound impacts on sales. If your business is looking for help, there are international SEO service providers in Melbourne, to help. Your website may rank well in Australia already, but is virtually non-existent in new markets you’re looking to expand into. These services can assist you in improving your ranking and enable a new audience to discover your business and ultimately buy from you.
Likewise, social media marketing and other channels of content marketing (YouTube, TikTok etc) have also provided many businesses with new sales streams into their business. It is important that you the capacity to either directly capture the referring channel, or follow up with a survey to users to join the dots on what’s working best for you and invest more time there.
Partner with foreign companies
An easy way to make your place in a market of a new country with the least chance of failure is to partner up with a native business. A company that has been operating in that market has a better understanding and more experience than you. Partnerships can, but don’t always have to involve financial agreements, it is possible to find arrangements that are mutually beneficial for both parties.
In other business arrangements, you’ll be a small fish in a big market, so will have to pay for services to grow your business. Imagine you didn’t have delivery services, but opened your website to a new market. You’d need a local delivery service partner to get goods to customers. These exist and as long as the price of goods to customers (+delivery) still yields a profit, then you’re in business.
One of Australia’s largest online retailers has a lot of home-branded products, yet does not make the products themselves. These are often whitelisted products from a manufacturer partner who makes the product, slaps the brand’s logo on it, packages and ships directly to the customer, based on an online order.
While your network may enable you to find such potential partners, searching on the internet and business expos continue to be great avenues to discover partners too.