In the new year, what is your global strategy? Your answer is a decision that reflects an analysis of market potential, company capabilities, and the degree of marketing involvement and commitment your management team is prepared to make....


And since strategy drives how we react and address the business issues we face everyday, let's examine 5 ways to find new or hidden markets in the world marketplace. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to respond exactly to the needs of your customers in a whole new way in 2007 and fuel greater sales growth and profitability for your business.
1. Find and expand into new geographical markets for an existing product. This is the simplest and quickest strategy to grow your business. It requires minimal investment with infrequent and either direct or indirect exporting, and little planning of market development. Exporting is a common growth tactic for both mature international companies as well as smaller companies. This market entry strategy contributes to the revenue stream and profitability of an increasing number of enterprises.
To find new geographical markets, start with your government's information resources. In the U.S., try the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Commercial Service or the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Another excellent way to tap new geographical markets, to minimize your expenditure of time, money, and energy, and to help focus your overseas sales and marketing efforts is to use the Port Import/Export Reporting Service (PIERS). PIERS is the only information service that provides names of U.S. consignees or shippers as well as overseas suppliers, along with detailed descriptions of import or export shipments for the commodity of your choice. This information is taken from ships' manifests by a nationwide corps of reporters and is loaded weekly into a computer database.
I once used PIERS on behalf of an American window blind manufacturer to find customers who were importing window shades into Capetown, South Africa. My client wanted to effectively compete with an industry giant already exporting to Capetown. After securing a list from PIERS that showed who was buying the competitor's goods there, we created a direct mail package specifically for those customers. Using the PIERS list gave us the competitive advantage we needed to show the South African prospects the superiority of my client's product and win them over as customers.
The lesson here is that you don't have to go it alone when going global. Tap into the resources available to you and the world can become your oyster.
2. Tap and penetrate emerging markets. Deferring to the book "The 86% Solution," we cannot wait for big emerging markets (BEM) like India and China to grow up. The work should begin now to take advantage of opportunities presented by rapidly developing economies and to ensure that we are ready to reap the rewards when these markets explode.
To fully understand the growth potential of emerging economies, read PriceWaterhouseCoopers' "The World in 2050: How big will the major emerging market economies get and how can the OECD compete?". Then review a listing of the big top ten emerging countries to see which ones might be ideal as your first entry point.
Next, visit U.S. Commercial Service BuyUSA.gov to find export information by country and to learn as much as you can about a BEM. When you are ready to get started, contact a trade specialist for help. You can find this information on the left side bar panel under "Contact Us" or by searching a little further. Click on it and you will discover important websites relating to the country you wish to do business with, phone, fax, email and Commercial Officer information. For example, here is a sample for India. Use it to your advantage. Your tax dollars pay for their services.
3. Source new products that complement existing ones and offer them as a new, specially priced package deal. This should be a snap by surfing ThomasNet, Alibaba.com and GlobalSources.com, which provide a wealth of information on potential manufacturers.
4. Reduce dependence on existing markets. Protect your company against the risk of decline in domestic sales by exporting, using the Internet, licensing or franchising your industrial products.
5. Develop new applications for existing products that can be offered to new buyers. Here's where a few months of actually living in a foreign country really pays off. It enables you to learn firsthand how the locals do things and what they need to do them better.
Perhaps a favorite food dish in China could be made better and or more quickly if you changed the speed of a kitchen mixer. Or maybe reconfiguring an existing vacuum attachment would be perfect for some out-of-the-way corners in Sri Lanka. Before you set out to do business in a particular country, ask some simple questions. How do the people there like to spend their time? What are their favorite gadgets? How do they clean their homes or cars? How are their clothes laundered? If you can't travel there, the information-gathering strategies outlined above should give you some answers.
Also, don't forget to ask yourself: What other applications is my product or service valid for? Take piano wire as an example; it doesn't have to be used only in pianos and other musical instruments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_wire). It can also be used effectively in the fabrication of springs, fishing lures, special effects in the movie industry, and for cutting soap.
Think beyond the everyday uses of things as well as cultural constraints and you'll be amazed at the opportunities that arise.
Got a way you took your business global that's NOT mentioned above? Email me at ldelaney@globetrade.com and I'll include in a future post. I've got five more global gems coming up next.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laurel Delaney (LaurelDelaney.com) is the founder of GlobeTrade.com and the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog. She can be reached at ldelaney@globetrade.com.