6 Steps to finding the most profitable foreign market for your business

6 Steps to finding the most profitable foreign market for your business

You are already welcoming visitors, guests, and customers regularly on your website, your e-store, your hotel or restaurant, your brick & mortar business – and you see the potentials of getting a firm and foreseeable share of that foreign market business, more consistently. You are considering translating your website, your product pages, signage, brochures and providing customer service in a foreign language or two… Yet which languages and/or which markets should you target first? Where should you start your research on the most profitable foreign market for your business? How should you do it without knowing the language or that particular market or that country?

This article will give you points to consider when making this important decision of where to invest and start your Wanderlust. It’s a groundwork that will be the jump board to the next steps of that journey. And please let me have one request: Do not start with considering only hard numbers and stern facts, but also be guided by your inspiration and simple curiosity of the journey ahead. You aren’t in the planning stage yet, you are allowed to imagine “What if…” And imagine a closer contact with a culture that is foreign now, the various possibilities of traveling overseas, the discovery of a territory full of new potentials never pondered and lived before.

As I am a person believing there is great power and impact in using pen and paper, I also created a downloadable worksheet version of this article that you may print out for taking notes on your initial research. Get the Workbook.

 

1. Mine your business data

Start with your own properties. Analyze your own website’s traffic for country code top-level domains (i.e. .fr for France, .ru for Russia). These are the letters after the dot in any URL or email address, such as www.yoursite.de for a website/a business in Germany. Who is visiting your site from which country more frequently than others? Could there be a reason for that, such as international conventions, seasonal attractions, etc.?

If you have a brick & mortar business and international customers or guests are already on your doorsteps, which nationality are they, which country are they from? Go through your guest or customer database and compile that info.

 

2. Get the local facts

Is there a specific market or consumer group attracted to your unique location or facility? Germans for example love kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking, they love traveling with RVs and are interested in Native American Culture.

Your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitor and Convention Center have facts and figures about international tourism and businesses in your region. Get those data and compile it.

 

3. Look at the world

Your website and its translation and adjustment for a local foreign market will most likely be your signage and storefront on the web and for an international audience. Comparing your company’s web traffic patterns, customer and guest data with global internet usage patterns can reveal hints on which market to approach first, in which language(s) to translate your website. Internet usage patterns show the way that the internet is used by the consumer to achieve certain goals.

 

4. Enjoy the Journey

Don’t ignore your preference. It’s easier to do business with a culture you definitely would want to know more about, and even might want to learn the language to some (or full) extent, an interest group or consumer market you feel attracted to or you know very well “locally” and you could educate and inform on a more global scale. It might well be, you will travel there to tighten business bonds. Why not make your business a good reason to approach also a personal Wanderlust that otherwise stays dormant and unrealized.

 

5. Calculate your Return on Investment

Going beyond your border is a significant investment. The best way to justify that investment into a new market is to weigh that investment against the potential returns. Starting out, there is not much data to make those calculations, yet you still should give it your best and realistic and “What if…” guess. Following are some questions that can help you with your calculations:

Does the market need your product or service?

Can that market afford your product or service?

How will they pay us (looking into local/global payment solutions)?

What could be the total revenue potential?

Can you deliver your product or service quickly and affordable?

Can you efficiently offer support for your product/service?

Are there liability and regulatory issues to navigate?

How much cost is involved in localizing your websites (or parts of it) and maintaining it?

 

6. Compiling your research data & putting it all together

Now, look at your research data. Can you see a pattern, are you gaining clarity which country or people would be your first foreign target market? Did you expect that or is it a surprise? Would you like to share your research data with us? You may leave a comment about your research experience as well.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Gathering data from your website statistics, your customer base, your local Chamber and tourist bureaus, observing world statistics and checking in with your own inspiration and curiosity for one or more specific cultures or countries can give you certainly a good insight on which language to translate your website and marketing material first. With working on all the points and compiling the info, you will be equipped to determinate one to three markets that come into closer consideration.

Are you inspired and interested to make some real plans and dive more into the depth of calculating your Return on Investment?

If yes, then the last questions will be your jump board to creating an international business strategy for your particular business. If the data and the last questions left you overwhelmed, then be assured that there are many ways to test the waters of a foreign market without losing an arm and a leg. It’s my goal with this website and my services to make international business approachable, manageable for you and fun to realize.

 

This article is also available as a Workbook with more hints on your research and room to write down your notes and results.

Seasonal Greetings for your International Customers

Seasonal Greetings for your International Customers

Imagine, you spend a wonderful vacation in a far away city, ate in a nice restaurant, had an adventurous time with a rented bike, took an RV to cross the country, you bought a special souvenir in a store, or took a guided tour or learned cooking overseas … and then, in the mail, you receive a Christmas card from that other country and it wishes you Christmas in their language and in yours, it’s even personalized with your name or another special note that tells you, they mean YOU.

Imagine, you have a local ethnic community that buys your products and services, are your guests and visitors. Can you show them gratitude in a similar way?

Christmas and New Year cards are displayed during the holiday season, the time of giving, next to your other Christmas cards. How many time during that Christmas time did you think of that service, product, the people you met there, the memories? Quite often.

Take that hour or two to thank those who made your (business) day, and show gratitude in their language.

I put together for you a sheet with saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” in many of the European languages for you to send a personalized note if you wish. Enter your email here and we will send the paper to you.

Advents Calendar for List building and so much more

Advents Calendar for List building and so much more

The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th century. It was mainly used for counting the days in anticipation of Christmas. It now is used in Germany mainly by Children but traditions brought forward many versions for adults as well. Nowadays it is used around the world by many Christian denominations, and also non-religious world views.

There are paper calendars with 24 small doors to open, one for every day, with pictures behind, little sweet treats, quotes, and prayers. There are calendars created from windows on a building, where windows lit up on their designated days, communities are involved in lively calendars where you can go for stories to the house of the specific day. There are home-made calendars of endless possibilities, and today, of course, virtual calendars.

The 24 windows of the front of Hellbrunn Palace used as an Advent calendar during the town's Christmas market

The 24 windows of the front of Hellbrunn Palace used as an Advent calendar during the town’s Christmas market; Credit: Matthias Kabel

You really can get creative with your own community – local or virtual – and make the days to Christmas, to your particular holiday celebration or the days of December in general, exciting for your customers and guests. Following are Ideas three ideas

  • Each opening of a window could be daily drawings for prices from your store or lodging amenities
  • With a Christmas tree at your property or location, or the market square, little gift boxes could hang on it, one for each day to win by your customers.
  • A daily window depicting free sample presentation of your products (to taste, to hear, to see, to touch – depending the business)
  • Join forces as a business community: each store can present a day of the calendar and be designated to a holiday open house, a treat, an international holiday story time or crafting, depending on the business.
  • Provide tips and tricks and secrets for each window of the calendar
  • You could include a charity drive (donations or percentage of sales, could run weekly per charity)
  • The calendar could be turned into a contest or scavenger hunt within the community

Using these and other activities can help you grow your email list and audience at the same time.

There is no end to possibilities in using the international language of the Christmas season.

12 Culture Nuggets for Business Travel in Italy

12 Culture Nuggets for Business Travel in Italy

Being in Italy, exactly in Catona, Calabria, for the first time, gives me a good reason to write about specifics of the south Italian everyday life and hints of thoughts for fellow travelers with formal reasons, such as business. I am in good company with my Italian-born American husband visiting my parents in law and, therefore, experiencing Italian culture as close as it gets in becoming part of an Italian family. Without further ado:

1. Hospitality
Hospitality plays a key role in the Italian culture, also the business culture. Home-made drinks and the delicious home-made food is offered. Invitations are not refused and allow time to know each other better.

2. Narrowing streets
Villages and cities are grown organically over hundreds of years and space are limited. When the streets were built, there were no cars yet, now cars parked left and right. Streets become one-lane-streets (with two-way traffic). When renting a car, get full coverage, it’s worth your peace of mind. When using your US-bought GPS or GPS app be nice to it as it’s working hard to identify and pronouncing the tiny twisty streets with some difficulties in defining left and right.

3. Small cars and micro driving
Narrow streets call for tiny cars, small cars, more an extension of arms and legs. As crazy and rule-ignoring it might seem for Americans or Germans, Italians are good drivers in my opinion. They know how to drive the narrow, one-lane streets and hills and watch for humans, especially kids – as pedestrian walkways often are non-existent. Waving ‘hello’, entering a steep curve or street is done with the horn … How to adapt? Drive with your gut, not with your head, there is more room to a tiny street than you think.

4. The midday siesta
Streets and people are busy until noon or 1 pm, then cities and towns become quiet and empty. It is time for a lunch and the midday rest afterward. People disappear from streets, stores are closing, street fairs get broken down (yes, I saw it!). Only cafes, restaurants, gelaterias and such are open. Quiet time everywhere … until about 4 pm in the afternoon when everything comes back to life (fair boots get built up again).
You can’t do business during those times, best you just do the same. It might feel awkward to not be able to do anything, yet after two days, it seems natural – and actually feels good.

5. Passeggiata and getting together
Walking through the streets at around 6 pm gives a picture quite unknown to Americans. In courts and alleys, people sit together and talk, they stand at street corners and sit on banks in parks and marinas. They talk, they go for walks, and they just lean out of the window and watch people. They just are, aware of the surroundings, ready to be seen. For the time being there, if you haven’t before, just follow one such activity as a routine, and you will watch the meaning of this casual togetherness growing every day and allowing the space for things to happen.

6. Shopping
Shopping is different for there are still much more individual stores: shoe store, clothing store, bags, bakeries, butcher stores, tobacco and news store, pharmacy etc. And for going in a store, attention is individualized and secluded. Even in the smallest town, there is a fine dresses boutique: families are large and marriages and birthdays, communion, etc. are more frequently and elegant robes needed more frequently. Appearance is very important. There is a dress code in business; appearance stands in relation to success and competence. And remember: everything is closed for the midday break, and shut down at 6 to 8 pm, no business on Sunday, Catholic festivities and national holidays.

7. The garbage in the streets
In parts of Italy (usually those regions with less tourism) is lots of garbage. On the beach, across a beautiful house, next to tourism beach bars, in the streets, on picnic sites in the forest – and I mean lots of garbage.
At home, there is a strict recycling separation of garbage, yet the attitude stops behind the door, an attitude that no law can regulate. Sadly, learn to watch away and ignore it. And make sure you don’t add to it.

8. Greetings
Meeting families or friends in the street greet each other with kisses left and right on the cheeks. Older persons and women will always be introduced first. People well known may become a warm embrace, also in business settings. In general and everywhere greet with “Buongiorno” (good morning) and “Buonasera” (good afternoon/evening), it’s a polite manner. Business partners shake hands, always in a standing position, with each individual person (no waving to the group).

9. The Italian language
Hand-gestured, expressively pronounced discussions.
With astonishment, I observed my Italian-born now American husband. When he talks in English or with us in German, he has this down-to-earth, neutral (beautiful) voice. However, observing him talking his favorite topic with his cousins and extended friends, he transforms into that full-body expressive gesturing being with a lively voice whose sound alone speaks (even if you don´t know the language).
Italians use most likely the most of the body language of all European countries. I actually decided to bring some of that expressive character over into my English and German language. How would your speech change with more emotional emphasis and expression? Speaking simultaneous and interrupting – also during business meetings – is part of the Italian communication style.

10. Respect, status, and hierarchy
Status and hierarchy are essential in Italian society, power and age are highly respected, and much attention is also given to children. Building close and trusting relationships is very important in Italian’s business culture. A well-connected person can make the right introduction for you.

11. The food
Food is socializing. Food is, of course, different in the various regions of Italy, food
reflects the various life situations of the people. Often, people were poor and used what they had on pasta and vegetable and fruits and spices out of their gardens. It was not a fancy cuisine as it seems sometimes nowadays. What really stroke me was the fresh pasta: what a difference. It is definitely worth the extra work of making and cleaning up the machine afterward. Even a simple menu starts with antipasti and bread, then there is a pasta dish, after that the meat is served – by itself on the plate or with salad and vegetables – then there is fruits or dessert. Hint: hold yourself back at the delicious antipasti and the pasta dish as you don’t know what’s still coming to the table. Business meetings over lunch can take up to three hours.

12. Coffee Espresso
A small espresso or a lungo espresso are both small – compared to American’s grande or venti size coffees. However, the brewing method and the essential strength of it feels satisfying and enough for the hours to come. Even a little sugar soothes the strength and supports the effectiveness. “Latte” is the Italian word for milk, so no shortcuts in ordering your drink (unless you want indeed milk.

 

Supercharge marketing and draw German visitors your way

My recent project was the translation of a flyer for a local tourist bureau. It was an abstract of the county with essential info “on a glance” for individual travelers and groups, for travel agencies and business travelers. What was so special about?

By itself or on top of other international business outreach, such a flyer is an effective step to initiate outreach activity and communication with foreign tourists, travel agencies and international (local) companies.

The multi-purpose of a beautifully designed, written and translated flyer is countless.

Here are just a view ideas on its multi-use:

  • post it on your website for your foreign website visitors to get an individualized Welcome in their language
  • post it to Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. to show your openness to other cultures
  • send the flyer per email as outreach to foreign language tourist bureaus
  • send the flyer within the response email to received inquiries from visitors of that language (hint: even when they inquire in your language)
  • print flyer and hang it up in the local tourism office or other bureaus/convention centers/chambers of commerce for foreign by-passers
  • send the flyer to international companies who meet with international clients and associations

…get creative and write further ideas in the comments below

 

What is the essential info that best presents your region, county, city, etc. at a glance?

There are view elements that just sums it up far and wide:

  • a simplified (illustrated) map of the city/region/county/state…
  • a few key info of that city, region, etc. – a paragraph fast to read and crap attention
  • a bullet point list of the attractions close by and further away
  • graphics of local photographer(s) with credits
  • a contact person, title, address, website, phone number
  • social media info
  • a list of annual special events
  • a table with neighboring cities and areas, the distances and the driving times

and finally: A call to action – request a kit, a brochure, etc. and a #hashtag for social networks buzz

 

A graphically attractive flyer with useful info is not only business-friendly, it also is cost and time efficient because you can use it year after year after year.

In your favorite graphics tool, such as In-Design, Publisher or Canva (even the comprehensive free version is sufficient), create a template that integrates all your brand elements. After the initial flyer is completed with all info and graphics, in the following year, you only need to update specific info such as events, possibly attractions and graphic artists and such.

Translators are using tools to be efficient with their translation. If you are working with the same translator or agency, you might get fee reductions due to existing translations and recycling of previous translations (more about in a next blog post where I elaborate on the human species “translators” and how to work with them).

It is one step, maybe the first, maybe the only step to reaching out to foreign tourists in their language and make them feel welcome! Imagine the ripples this one gesture can make.

With that, go create this one or two page flyer of your region or property and we can help you translate it into German language.

As always, leave us questions in the comments or join our newly formed FREE Facebook group “Int’l Business Communication Q&A” to get answers to them.

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