It used to be only the biggest, most successful businesses that could operate without borders. The internet has simplified everything from marketing to payment, and even shipping goods is easier than it used to be. If youre offering a service without a physical product — graphic design, for instance — it barely makes a difference whether your client is next door or halfway round the world.
This opens up huge opportunities, but only the businesses who approach the global market in the right way will reap the rewards.
Know Your Markets
Knowing your markets has always been essential in business, of course, but it becomes far more important when youre dealing with the range of cultures we have around the world. What goes down a storm in Japan might meet with indifference, or even hostility, in Saudi Arabia. If its not possible to have someone — perhaps a freelance consultant — in each country youre targeting, at least research the country in detail, and dont try to expand everywhere at once. One market at a time is the best way to go.
Use Your Website as a Selling Tool
Your website is your shop window, but a very active shop window. A site is no good if its not seen, which means getting it onto page one of Google in every country youre targeting. To do that, you need to keep up its SEO on an ongoing basis, as well as paying attention to the web design. The purpose of the site is to get the client smoothly from landing page to checkout or contact form, so avoid distractions and unclear navigation.
Social Media is Your Gateway to the World
Whether youre using Twitter, Facebook or any of the couple of hundred social media sites out there, remember that its going out to the entire world. Used properly — to interest and attract readers without making them feel youre selling — social media can open up your business to a potentially vast customer base. Used wrongly — such as ignoring the values of the countries youre targeting — it can destroy you. So get an expert to run your social media campaign. Dont just leave it to the office junior.
Target Your Email Campaigns
Email marketing is still one of the most effective tools in your box, but it needs to be properly designed and properly targeted. Its no use just sending the same email out to everyone on your mailing list, especially if that covers diverse countries all over the world. Consider very carefully who to include in which email campaign, so that your message doesnt come over as spam.
The global market isnt going to go away. If anything, borders will become even more irrelevant as time goes on. The growth of the Internet of Things and whats being described as Industry 4.0 are going to take global interconnectedness to a whole new level. 3D printing is in its infancy at the moment, but its likely that soon well be able to email a whole range of physical products to the customer as easily as a graphic designer sends a jpeg. Anyone not ready for this expansion is going to be left behind, so make sure it isnt you.