Top five tips to help your global business plan
1) Graduating from the kids table
Growing up, we always had a kids table and an adults table for Thanksgiving dinner. As a kid, I always dreamed about the day of “graduating” from the kids table (where my cousin always spilled his milk) to the adults table where all the food and alcohol sat and everyone busted out in laughter. The kids table always had to be supervised (aka micromanaged), while at the adult table they could do as they please, which appeared to be the unknown land of opportunity for me. Entering the international market can mean leaving corporate politics, chaos, and micromanagement behind to establish new rules and climb to new heights alone. People who have already entered the international market can provide their advice on what to do and most importantly, what not to do to avoid social blunders.
2) A lot of preparation
Thanksgiving dinner takes A LOT of preparation. Several day before, you need a solid idea of your menu, what foods need to be marinated and brined, food preferences and allergies. International expansion also requires a solid plan. In speaking with a few recent prospects, a lot of them wanted to expand globally, but were unprepared of what they needed to do and were unaware of their goals and what country they wanted to penetrate. Obtainable goals need to be set and you need to understand your target market, competition, barriers to entry, and prices people are willing to pay. Make sure you discuss your expansion plans and recipe for success with an experienced chef that knows the cuisine abroad.
3) Timing is crucial
It’s important to make sure all the food is served to the table at the same moment – and HOT! No one wants cold gravy on their mashed potatoes. Evaluating your competitors next move in your new international market can also be crucial. After researching the needs, wants and pain points of your target market, you want to make sure your service or product has entered the market first. If your competition is already present in your territory, make sure you learn from their mistakes and aggressively address them in localized market-entry campaigns.
4) Mind your P’s and Q’s
During dinner, good tables manners and courteousness are always expected. When crossing from your country’s boarders and into unfamiliar territory, social norms can differ drastically, as well as customs, languages, etiquette and standard business operating hours. Before you travel, educate yourself on international business etiquette. For example: Germans are extremely punctual and adhere to structured schedules. Brazilians tend to use physical contact during conversations and stand very close, which equates to trust and long-term relationships. In China, dinner meetings can lead to several rounds of toasts, so be sure to pace yourself. Always be aware of additional etiquette rules such as: verbal or physical greetings, handshakes, or bows; religious rules regarding alcohol consumption; business card exchange; gift giving; and table seat placements.
5) Turkey leftovers can be repetitive
The greatest thing about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! Your leftovers, especially turkey, can be turned into several dishes: turkey soup, turkey chili, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey pot pie, etc. In business, repetition is also a good thing, keep your messaging consistent and don’t change your overall corporate structure or goals. Advertise consistently to create awareness and buzz about your business. Doing anything once for your business will not yield the awareness, leads or customers that you need. Business repetition through multiple channels will help you achieve the results you set. Make sure to follow up in a timely manner, especially in European countries, its considered a necessity to show interest in a potential customer. Send your follow up emails within the first 48 hours of your event or campaign. In a recent conversation with a client, they told me their sales team took 6 weeks to follow up with a prospect who was a decision maker from high-end, German luxury retail store – completely unacceptable.
Let me know if you want to graduate and expand into the European market as well. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day!
P.S. I’ve now graduated to the adult table and appreciate the freedom and free reign. Although I do miss the goofiness of the kids table, I don’t miss the spilled milk.