BizSugar Blog » Take Your Small Business Global

Take Your Small Business Global

(How can you take your small business global? In my interview with international marketer Cindy King we discuss the tools, approaches and core concepts that can make your cross-cultural marketing strategy a success.)

Hi Cindy. First, thanks so much for agreeing to the interview. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do?

Hi Shawn, I am North American but have spent all of my professional life based in Europe in international sales & marketing and international business development.

The number 3 seems to come up often when I describe myself. I have 3 different nationalities: Bahamas, Canada & France. I speak 3 languages fluently, and have extremely rusty skills in 3 others. I have worked in 3 different religious environments: Catholic, Jewish and Muslim… and I am Anglican. And I have worked with international responsibilities in 3 different regions of the world: ASEAN, EMEA and North America & the Caribbean.

Today I use my dual background sales and marketing to help businesses create international sales guides and improve their cross-cultural marketing.

Global

I guess when people hear about global business these days, they often think of multi-national corporations. But how practical is it for a small business to market themselves globally or cross-culturally outside their traditional local market?

Even large companies learn their international marketing skills one step at a time. The key for a small business to successfully market internationally is a narrow focus.

When a company of any size first expands abroad, it is always wise to aim for one product and one country. This applies for small businesses too. Trying to do more is too expensive and leaves you vulnerable for international business blunders.

One big advantage small businesses have today is that it does not need to cost them a fortune to get preliminary international market research done.

I suppose the Internet is an obvious tool, but what other approaches can a small business take to market themselves cross-culturally or globally and what are the benefits?

Open your vision. Most businesses only think about using the internet as they would use it in their own markets. This means that you ignore other possible areas of action.

Not only do other countries have other ways of using the internet with different platforms, but they are also at different stages of maturity. Most people think of the missed opportunities and the difficulties, but this also means there are opportunities for simple web marketing tactics to bring in good results.

Beyond possible language barriers and regulatory hurdles, what other challenges must small business owners consider when marketing their product or service cross-culturally?

Just about everyone overestimates how easy their communication is to understand.

Clarity is a huge issue for two reasons. First it makes your website easy for everyone to understand. And second, because clarity is linked to trust in cross-cultural communication. With any lack of clarity you lose trust points.

When your message gets across clearly this improves the feedback you get.

How can small business owners decide whether the time is right to market themselves cross-culturally or globally and what kinds of businesses does this strategy work best for?

In many cases it really boils down to wanting to expand into a particular foreign market and committing to it.

Choose one product and one country. If you are not sure, or hesitate in where to go, create a more interactive international presence online and stimulate feedback. Use social media for international networking. It works well for many international markets too.

Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural Marketer & International Sales Strategist  based in France. She uses her dual background in sales & marketing to help businesses improve their international sales conversion and develop country-specific international sales guides. Connect with her on Twitter @CindyKing .

For more on how small businesses can use social media and other resources to cheaply and easily touch a global market, see these additional links on this year’s winner of the Dell Small Business Excellence Award and how a small business based in England spread their philosophy of natural gardening and the products that came with it to the world. 

6 thoughts on “Take Your Small Business Global

  • Shawn: Great interview with Cindy! Do I see a symbolic secular trinity through the interview? 😉 I like the number 3 too. I am a strong advocate of The Third Place between your home and your office. A meeting place for entrepreneur and business minded individuals could.

    Cindy: Yesterday I had a meeting with an attorney at law. He speaks Swedish, English (both British & American) and French fluently. He is located in Chicago, Illinois. Did you know that Chicago was Sweden’s 2nd biggest city at one point?

    He gave me great advice on how to plan for entering the new marketing. He said that the competition is tough regarding the products we are representing (superberries and fine bottled water), but it could work out great if you do “homework”. I will send you information about his company and his father’s work.

    I think that your last paragraph is applicable to our case study:

    “Choose one product and one country. If you are not sure, or hesitate in where to go, create a more interactive international presence online and stimulate feedback. Use social media for international networking. It works well for many international markets too.”

    The “base camp” with the research & development and production is located in Sweden. The new market will be America. The product to start with could be seabuckthorn (Havtorn in Swedish. Click on my name and you could read more about seabuckthorn. It is Paula Widén – http://PaulaWiden.se – who has founded this business.). Now is time to see where to start up in the United States of America? Where could you find a cross-cultural link between Sweden (expanding later on to Scandinavia – Nordic countries) and America (expanding later to the whole North America)? I wonder if the Swedish – American fraternal organization, Vasa Order of America could be of some help. I am member of lodge #452 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    From http://www.VasaOrder.com:

    “Over the past century, many things have changed, and the Vasa Order has grown to meet the new needs of the Scandinavian American community. Where in the past, members looked to Vasa to help them learn the ways of the new country and provide them a means to share problems and solutions with their countrymen, today Vasa provides members a means to share their rich heritage with fellow Americans, and helps them to learn or remember the meaningful ways and values of the “Old Country.””

    I definitively think that Paula Widén wants to talk with you about your service in the near future.

  • I have one comment in “moderation queue”… As a additional comment to Cindy’s last paragraph.

    “Use social media for international networking. It works well for many international markets too.”

    My role will be to enthusiastically take care of the social media conversation marketing activities, located somewhere in America. I have to be close to the local market and at the same time be of assistance to the “base camp” with the research & development and production in Sweden. I will also work with parts of the supply chain and coordinate international projects during time. As an experienced purchaser I know of to search for sources of information, so I will also work as business intelligence analyst, doing SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, creating vendor and customer scorecards, cost & value analysis, etc.

  • [My first comment.]

    Shawn: Great interview with Cindy! Do I see a symbolic secular trinity through the interview? 😉 I like the number 3 too. I am a strong advocate of The Third Place between your home and your office. A meeting place for entrepreneur and business minded individuals could.

    Cindy: Yesterday I had a meeting with an attorney at law. He speaks Swedish, English (both British & American) and French fluently. He is located in Chicago, Illinois. Did you know that Chicago was Sweden’s 2nd biggest city at one point?

    He gave me great advice on how to plan for entering the new marketing. He said that the competition is tough regarding the products we are representing (superberries and fine bottled water), but it could work out great if you do “homework”. I will send you information about his company and his father’s work.

    I think that your last paragraph is applicable to our case study:

    “Choose one product and one country. If you are not sure, or hesitate in where to go, create a more interactive international presence online and stimulate feedback. Use social media for international networking. It works well for many international markets too.”

    The “base camp” with the research & development and production is located in Sweden. The new market will be America. The product to start with could be seabuckthorn (Havtorn in Swedish. Click on my name and you could read more about sea-buckthorn. It is Paula Widén who has founded this business.). Now is time to see where to start up in the United States of America? Where could you find a cross-cultural link between Sweden (expanding later on to Scandinavia – Nordic countries) and America (expanding later to the whole North America)? I wonder if the Swedish – American fraternal organization, Vasa Order of America could be of some help. I am member of lodge #452 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    From VasaOrder.com:

    “Over the past century, many things have changed, and the Vasa Order has grown to meet the new needs of the Scandinavian American community. Where in the past, members looked to Vasa to help them learn the ways of the new country and provide them a means to share problems and solutions with their countrymen, today Vasa provides members a means to share their rich heritage with fellow Americans, and helps them to learn or remember the meaningful ways and values of the “Old Country.””

    I definitively think that Paula Widén wants to talk with you about your service in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *