The global nature of digital presents a massive opportunity for British SMEs, says Luke Smith, co-founder and CEO of Croud
Exporting is absolutely vital to the UK economy. It creates employment, drives economic growth and boosts the profile of British brands overseas.
So, how should UK SMEs be promoting their products and services worldwide?
With so many platforms readily accessible that enable fast and cost-effective targeting of new markets, thus breaking down the low barriers to entry, every business should consider how digital marketing can help them take to the global stage.
Data is your friend
Data plays a crucial role in informing global marketing strategies. Croud’s own research has found that eight in 10 SMEs use data to drive their marketing decisions.
Be it based on customer behaviour or local market insights, audience data provides companies with the intelligence they need to develop marketing strategies which can be executed in multiple markets.
There is also a myriad of tools available from the likes of Google and Facebook to help determine where the best opportunities lie for your business. Most are free or inexpensive.
Don’t undervalue local expertise
Being able to account for cultural nuances and incorporate them into marketing efforts can make all the difference in both the short and long term.
Digital is such a powerful way of broadening reach to new markets, but do not undervalue the importance of local market insight. Getting this stuff wrong can have an incredibly negative impact.
Whether it’s via email, social media, or live chat, marketers need to understand the markets in which they operate and ideally have a presence in those markets.
One size doesn’t fit all
Brand awareness and engagement methods can vary significantly, meaning that each market must be treated differently and have its own dedicated strategy.
The extent to which one market has developed compared to another can be stark. Just because something’s worked in one market, it’s dangerous to assume it will work in another. Again, it’s down to understanding and having experience in each market.
Agency support gives the most bang for your buck
Hiring an agency might feel like a big expense, but having that local market knowledge, cultural awareness and up-to-date information on what’s going on can be a key determinant in whether money is to be spent efficiently or thrown down the drain. After all, the opportunity (or indeed opportunity cost) far outweighs the cost of an agency.
Trying to enter new markets presents a multitude of competing priorities, so investing in the right agency support early on can go a long way to mitigating any issues that may surface down the line.
Invest in the right technology
To compete and achieve international success, exporters should be encouraged to invest in proprietary technology. I’d argue you can’t build a global business without technology being central to it.
A barrier to entry for nascent businesses – and something we faced – is the significant up-front costs without an immediate return for building your own technology. I’d advise doing all you can to make this happen. Beg, borrow and steal to build it. If you really want to bring something fresh, exciting and different to a new market, relying on technology created by someone else just won’t cut it.