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international go-to-market strategies

Thursday 30 April, 2009

Virchow Krause hosted another breakfast briefing, this time on international go-to-market strategies.  Again, it was pretty high quality, but not quite as interactive as the last 1.  Here’s the presentation they gave:  gotomarketstrategies

The general theme was American companies need to use more rigor in choosing markets & partners.  In too many cases, US firms abdicate their marketing strategies to local partners & their mutual success suffers because of it.  70% of the time, foreign distributors approach US companies about representing them in their home countries & the Americans sign them up.  The problem is this is very reactive & not proactive, so by not doing our due diligence, we’re stuck with enthusiastic representatives rather than the best ones.  Biggest reasons for failure are being reactive & short-sighted, both from which US firms suffer massively in world markets.

Mosaic fertilizer company, essentially a commodity producer, went through 40 distributors until they found the right 1 in Latin America.

Redland Roofing figured that everybody needs a roof, right?  They tried to build international markets, but due to different regulations & building practices elsewhere, gave up on the rest of the world after 10 years.  3M sends expats to Brussels for 5 years to export their business culture to Europe.  It’s expensive, but less costly than screwing up your brand.

There was a little time left for Q&A:

  • there is no minimum size threshold to go global, as long as you can store inventory & have a strong cash position
  • technology makes it easier to confirm locally-provided data, but hire independents to be sure
  • corruption will always be a problem in the rest of the world-Redline ATV’s sold 1 of their products to a sheik who reverse engineered it & sold them all over Malaysia.
  • In weighing the global/local trade-off, keep product planning centralized & customer-focused activities locally-oriented.
  • there is no 1-size fits all strategy.  a discount brand in 1 country can still be a premium brand in another country.
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