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UPS’ small business approach to going global

Tuesday 12 October, 2010

I attended this seminar organized by UPS:  Growth Through Global Trade The presentation was made by Jim Beach of the Entrepreneur School & Chris Hanks of the University of Georgia.  Here is the presentation they gave Growth Through Global Trade Presentation .  You can see the presentation for yourself.  Here’s other information they said that was not contained in their slides:

  • 97% of all US exports are made by small businesses, but only 30% of the $ value of exports are made by small businesses
  • exporting is simply a way to add another revenue stream
  • an appropriate question for all business people to ask is “What have you done to increase your price this month?” because price is irrelevant:  value is what matters
  • the corridor principle simply says, “walk the hallways to open doors of opportunity,” but you must constantly focus on your value proposition
  • there are potential problems with entering each of the fastest-growing economies;
  1. Brazil is very protective
  2. Russia is very corrupt
  3. Infrastructure in India is insufficient
  4. Intellectual property is not well-protected in China
  • For consumer products, an ad on Facebook costs 15% of that on Google & is more targeted
  • these guys have gotten 70-80% unsolicited e-mail response rates contacting prospects on LinkedIn
  • AliBaba contains lots of 3rd party middlemen, so be careful
  • credit risk insurance can replace letters of credit & allow open accounts so that you can then borrow against your accounts receivable, all of which improves your balance sheet
  • search keywords must be in the local language of the search engine you’re targeting

This was a good event, & I endorse a lot of the content they presented, but  I do have a few qualms about their approach:

  • while I agree a lot more companies can & should export, I don’t agree that everyone can or should-it’s not the best use of resources for everyone
  • they seem to promote the notion of “just find a product & export it.”  A better approach would be to target small businesses with export potential & bring them through the process
  • as Americans, we have a technological bent.  The rest of the world generally does not embrace technology the way we do.  Therefore, while using online social media can be a help, most of the rest of the world prefers to deal with human beings as opposed to bits & bytes
  • while most small businesses need help with their presence on the internet, I question the appropriateness of the primer on search engine marketing.  To sell globally, your foreign partners should be doing the search engine marketing in their languages
  • the focus of this event was just as much on importing as on exporting, & while I understand it doesn’t make any difference to the main sponsor UPS, the US government, as represented by the US Foreign Commercial Service @ this event, only promotes export.  This event was supposed to be in support of the National Export Initiative, but promoting imports hurts our trade deficit & export-led job growth rather than improving them.
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