How do you succeed in the complex business of international trade?
Five veterans of international markets shared some tips at an early October International Symposium hosted by AIM’s International Business Council in Springfield.
AIM member executives Daniel Harris of Mestek Inc. and Al Kasper of Savage Arms joined Ken Brown of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI), Ulli Hammer of Hannover Fairs USA, and Thierry Weissenburger of the Canadian Consulate to provide 10 tips for competing in foreign markets:
- Have a sound, quality product.
- Do your homework. Prepare. Do market research. Ask for help (state and federal resources such as the Massachusetts Export Center, MOITI and the U.S. Deptartment of Commerce are eager to assist).
- Don’t just be opportunistic—develop a global strategy.
- Identify markets where your product is needed and where customers can benefit.
- It’s all about relationships. Develop these. People buy from people.
- Be serious about your global commitments. Make a personal investment. Go overseas and sit across from customers and prospects.
- Choose your partners and distributors carefully.
- Mitigate risk where possible. Get paid in advance. Protect yourself from currency fluctuations. Know that a change in foreign governments can affect your ability to do business. Never forget that nearly 90 percent of the world’s exports travel by water—plan accordingly. Get your documentation, classifications and permits right.
- Use a variety of channels to promote your product—trade shows, social media, print, trial and the Internet (“always in your pocket or on your desk”).
- Match your best employees to your best markets.