When is the right time to expand into new markets?

 

With globalisation becoming increasingly common for brands, considering the challenges involved is key for successful expansion into any new market.

Let’s set the scene, you have been running your business for several years in your local market. The business is doing well, and you continue to surpass your growth expectations year on year. Your product or service is the best it can be, you have employed a strong team to run the business and you are seeing some demand from consumers in other markets who are now becoming a slightly larger part of the revenue pie. If this is the case, it might be time to think about expanding into a new market.

Any successful new business has a detailed business and launch plan, ensuring every detail is covered. This approach needs to be applied to an expansion as well, taking into account all important market nuances and adapting your strategy accordingly across borders. Businesses who expand to new markets without doing their due diligence will most likely run into multiple problems that will hinder their growth. Here are my top tips to ensure success when expanding into new markets.

Checklist for new market launch:

Any advertiser launching into a new market should carefully assess each of the following before deciding to launch;

  1. Competition – Conduct a full competitor SWOT analysis for each market. What does the competition in the new market look like? What makes them successful in the market? Is it their local market too?
  2. Product – Does your product need adapting to suit the local market or does your brand name need to be changed to ensure it fits in. For example, TK Maxx is called TJ Maxx in the USA and the famous Walkers crisps are known as Lays in other markets. There are a variety of reasons why a brand may choose to change their name, here are a few more examples.
  3. Logistics – As a business do you have the logistical set up to deliver to other markets. If you are producing your own product is it cheaper to set up local production lines rather than shipping?
  4. Legal – If you are selling a product or service, are you aware of local tax laws. Do you need to apply for local licenses? Always check this with a legal professional to ensure what processes you need to adhere to in each local market.
  5. Staffing – Expansion often means more resource is required. Review your current management team and review the option of having someone on the ground running the local operations.

Website development checklist:

Having the right website setup is important for a successful expansion. Any global site needs to be agile so that changes can be made locally without having to wait for development windows to open up. Here are the key areas to consider:

  1. eCommerce setup – Any transactional site should ensure they are able to accept the local currencies for each market they operate. Accepting a variety of currency and payment options will help to attract new customers and reduces the risk of losing customers at the checkout.
  2. Language – If your site is currently in English and you’re expanding into a non-English speaking country, consider getting your content translated to the local language. This is often overlooked and many times, done at the last minute. Any translation should be done by a native language speaker to ensure translations are perfect, include any regional dialects and grammatical peculiarities.
  3. Marketing – Optimise you organic marketing and ensure that your paid marketing is adapted to the local market. For any paid search activity, you may need to adjust your PPC campaigns as the keywords that you are converting in your local market may not work elsewhere.

Affiliate programme checklist:

Any expansion to a new market is also a great time to review your affiliate channel activity. As a performance led channel, it’s a low-risk way to enter a new market and a great way to reach a whole new pool of customers.

  1. Platform – Review the current platform that you are using, do they have expertise in the local market, what other clients do they manage in that region and what are their language capabilities? One solution can be to partner with an international agency who works independently with local tech partners and affiliate networks across each of your markets, acting as a single point of contact across the globe.
  2. Publishers – Review the publishers in the local market, how big are they and how do they operate? Do the current partners in your home market have traffic in other countries? You could leverage your relationship with them to help you enter other markets.
  3. Management – Will your current affiliate manager be able to manage your new markets if it’s in house. Would you need to invest in additional headcount? Think about the different time zones and working hours as this may affect how you make decisions.

To summarise, there isn’t a specific time in a lifecycle of a business to expand but with careful planning and a thorough business plan, you can set yourself up for success. The business should always be evolving and meeting the current demands of your customer base. Take the time to thoroughly plan each element and do lots of research to mitigate risk.

Finally, never forget your home market as that’s where your true strength lies and remember, think local not global when it comes to your expansion strategy.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help grow your international affiliate marketing programme and join other large global brands that are using Acceleration Partners expertise, get in touch with us.

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