• Kathy Svetina

How to Successfully Take Your Business Global

From: "Help! My Business is Growing" Podcast


How to Successfully Take Your Business Global


Going global is a great - and exciting - way to achieve next-level growth for your business.


International expansion can spread the risk, grow your customer base, increase your revenues, and it will elevate your brand prestige as well!


But, with the potentially high returns, there are also significant risks involved. Growing your business across borders is not for the faint-hearted.


It's a complex process that can go really wrong - really fast - especially if you lack a deep socio-economic and cultural understanding of your chosen new country.


In today's episode, our guest, Brigitte Bojkowszky, Ph.D., a global & personal branding strategist, sheds some light on international expansion, specifically on getting started, best practices, and the do's and don'ts of the entire process.


She also shares eye-opening, real-life examples of big household brands and companies and how they were successful - or how they massively failed - when they went global.



In this week's episode, we discuss:

  • 04:32 What are some of the major reasons companies fail when they try to take their brands internationally?

  • 20:41 Are there any particular things to keep in mind when researching how to expand in the international arena? What should business owners look for, and what information will be available for them, especially when the budget is tight for extensive research?

  • 26:18 Are there marketers specializing in global brand building that can help businesses planning to expand abroad conduct research and due diligence?

  • 35:42 When a business expands into a different market, what are the implications of a logo revamp? How much should it be changed, and what should business owners consider when modifying the logo?

  • 41:45 What is the next tangible step that a small business can do in the next month to start and take their brand globally?



Transcript


Listen to the podcast here:




What are some of the major reasons companies fail when they try to take their brands internationally?


Many companies fail because:

  • They expect other markets to be the same as their home market - they won't be.

  • They go all-in immediately, go straight with an FDI or foreign direct investment instead of starting with simpler forms of international expansion that provide flexibility, lower capital investments, and lower risks. Examples of lower-risk expansion are exporting or establishing partnerships with members of the local market.

  • They don't understand their potential new market.


It's crucial to find out as much as possible about your new market and do extensive research to understand:

  • What are the consumer behaviors?

  • What are customer needs?

  • How are they socio-culturally different from your existing market?

  • Any economic factors or politico-legal issues to consider?




Companies fail (when they expand internationally) because they don't have an understanding of their target market, the target customers they want to appeal to, and ultimately are not adapting to the local needs accordingly.




Are there any particular things to keep in mind when researching how to expand in the international arena? What should business owners look for, and what information will be available for them, especially when the budget is tight for extensive research?



1. Measurability

Can you measure the size and the purchasing power of the new market?


2. Accessibility

Can you effectively reach the market and serve the market?

Is the infrastructure in places, such as a sound distribution channel system and established media channels?


3. Profitability

Is the market large enough to turn a profit? Does it make fiscal sense to expand in this new country? Will it be worth the effort?

4. Actionability

Will you have sufficient resources to work the new market and formulate effective marketing programs? Can you make things happen out there? Is the market attractive? Will we be able to take action in this new setting?


 
"If you're not able to recognize cultural differences, you shouldn't go there." - Brigitte Bojkowsky
 


Are there marketers specializing in global brand building that can help businesses planning to expand abroad conduct research and due diligence?


Yes, you can tap into many sources of information when thinking about global expansion.


The following services and organizations can help:

  • Syndicated services

  • Local Chambers of Commerce

  • The World Bank

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

  • Market research companies

  • Global growth specialist consultants

  • And many other organizations/ institutions that can help you get a clearer picture of the different markets.



Every adaptation effort costs money. And for a small company, you have to be very specific with spending.



When a business expands into a different market, what are the implications of a logo revamp? How much should it be changed, and what should business owners consider when modifying the logo?


Your logo is a key part of your business. It is a visual representation of your business’ identity.


So when expanding into another country,

  • Ensure that it is something you can quickly modify to fit the specific socio-cultural landscape of your new market.

  • Check any names or words on the logo; they could have a different cultural meaning attached to them in the language of the country where you plan to expand to.

  • Choose your brand colors according to what they mean to the local culture and if they are associated with superstitions, religious beliefs, political leanings, etc.

  • Study the copyright laws and find out if your logo is transferable. If not, make changes accordingly.


 
"You need to know the customer's wants and needs and how you can best serve your customer in that specific market. You need to be in their heart because a brand always has two sides, a heart, a feelings emotional side and the rational side, ahead side." - Bridget Bojkowsky
 


What is the next tangible step that a small business can do in the next month to start taking their brand globally?


  • Do your research.

There is no going around it. While there are numerous financial benefits when you expand globally, there are also many risks to consider. Do the work and the due diligence. Get as much information as possible before committing.


  • Start with yourself & your business.

Ask yourself if you are up to the challenge of running a global business.


  • Understand the financial implications

Ensure that your business finances are up to speed and that you are financially ready to expand. This is something that your Fractional CFO can help you with.


  • Choose your new market

Understand the whole market dynamics of the country you want to get into.


Look at it on a macroeconomic level and consider all other factors, including political, legal, and environmental.

  • Who are the players?

  • How many local players?

  • How strong is that country's national identity?

  • Do they welcome foreign brands?


  • Understand your potential new customers inside out. Figure out how your brand can be meaningful, relevant, and inspire loyalty in your new market.



We go in-depth with this topic and more over at the podcast. Listen here:


 

To Recap:


1. Many companies fail in their attempts to go global because they don't understand their target market, specifically their target customers, and ultimately don't adapt to local needs accordingly.



2. When researching a potential new market, make sure you analyze it well. Take the following four features into consideration: Measurability, Accessibility, Profitability, Actionability



3. There are many sources of information you can tap into when thinking about global expansion. These include reaching out to your local Chamber of Commerce, The World Bank, and Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as finding global growth specialist consultants, agencies, and services that can help you get started.



4. Your logo/branding is vital when expanding to another country. It is your brand identity condensed in one image and will allow your new market to get to know you and what you have to offer. Prepare your logo for possible changes so it can comply with any socio-cultural norms or rules, including design elements such as artwork, colors chosen, and even specific words used. Check the copyright laws as well.



5. Finally, If you are thinking about bringing your business out into the global arena, the first step to take is to DO YOUR RESEARCH.


Get as much information as you can about your potential new market, as detailed as possible, especially about your new customers, their buying habits, what the industry is like, who are the players, as well as economic, political, and cultural factors that can come into play.


Make sure that you - and your business are prepared as well - emotionally, operationally, and financially.



 

About Brigitte Bojkowszky, PhD

Brigitte Bojkowszky, PhD, is a global & personal branding strategist. She is the founder and owner of BridgetBrands, a branding strategy boutique that empowers brands to unleash their full potential. She has also been teaching global marketing management and branding topics at universities around the globe for almost 20 years. Bridget is also host and producer of BrandsTalk, a podcast for 'Brand Lovers' who want to learn from thought leaders, CEOs, business owners, and managers telling their brand stories and sharing valuable first-hand insights.


Website: www.bridgetbrands.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bojkowszkyb/

BrandsTalk podcast: https://brandstalk.buzzsprout.com/


Brigitte's book | Significant Women: Leaders Reveal What Matters Most



Other resources mentioned in this episode:

The World Bank

The Economist Intelligence Unit



 

by Kathy Svetina

Kathy is a Fractional CFO and the founder and director of NewCastle Finance LLC. She is a financial puzzle solver, focusing on women-owned businesses, providing financial insights needed for a healthy and sustainable business.