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.
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.