Developing Your Export Marketing Strategy

Understanding export marketing plans

Long before you fill your first order, you'll need an export marketing plan. A good marketing plan should answer the following questions:

  • According to your research, what are the characteristics of your target market?
  • How do your competitors approach the market?
  • What is the best promotional strategy to use?
  • How should you modify your existing marketing materials, or even your product or service?

The many Ps of international marketing

The Four Ps of Marketing are commonly referred to as the "marketing formula" and include:

  • Product-what is your product or service and how must it be adapted to the market?
  • Price-what pricing strategy will you use?
  • Promotion-how will you make your customers aware of your product or service?
  • Place-how and where will you deliver or distribute your product or service?

International trade is more complicated, and adds nine Ps to the list to produce the 13 Ps of International Marketing. They are:

  • Payment-how complex are international transactions?
  • Personnel-does your staff have the necessary skills?
  • Planning-have you planned your business, market, account and sales calls?
  • Paperwork-have you completed all the required documentation?
  • Practices-have you considered differences in cultural and business practices?
  • Partnerships-have you selected a partner to create a stronger market presence?
  • Policies-what are your current and planned policies?
  • Positioning-how will you be perceived in the market?
  • Protection-have you assessed the risks and taken steps to protect your company and its intellectual property?

Hands On is targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses who are contemplating exporting in preparing for the export market. We welcome your feedback on this section and invite suggestions from readers on topics you would like to see covered, in order to make this section even more relevant to SMEs.


Building your export marketing plan

Because marketing is an ongoing activity, your marketing plan is a work in progress that you'll modify continuously. As you develop it, consider the following questions:

  • What is the nature of your industry?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • Where are they?
  • What is your company's marketing strategy?
  • What products or services do you plan to market?
  • How will you price your products and services?
  • Which segment of the market will you focus on?
  • Does your marketing material accurately convey the quality of your products or services and the professionalism of your company?

A good marketing plan is closely related to your export plan and should contain the following:

  • Executive summary-state the purpose of your marketing plan. This provides an overview of your objectives and how the plan will be used in your exporting strategy.
  • Product or service analysis-give a clear description of your export product or service, its unique selling points and how marketable it might be internationally.
  • Market analysis-describe your target market in terms of size and trends. Include key economic, social, political and cultural characteristics, a profile of your target customer, buying patterns and factors influencing purchasing decisions.
  • Competitive analysis-analyse the competitiveness of your product or service.

This will help you to position it effectively in your target market, and to decide pricing and marketing strategies.

  • Goals-state your objectives in terms of market share, revenue and profit expectations. Indicate the position you would like to occupy in the target market and explain how you will go about achieving it.
  • Marketing strategy-describe your marketing strategy, including information on specific product or service pricing recommendations, mode of delivery and proposed promotional methods.
  • Implementation-list the activities you'll undertake to carry out your marketing plan, indicating target dates and who will perform the activities. Prepare a detailed marketing budget.
  • Evaluation-design a method of evaluating your marketing plan at various stages to determine if your goals are being achieved and what, if any, modifications may be needed.
  • Summary-include a half-page summary of your marketing plan goals, describing how they fit into your overall export plan.



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