Marketing your business overseas involves taking what’s working in marketing in your home country, then adapting that strategy to the culture, laws, technology, and other aspects that differ between the two countries. It helps if you have a concrete example of how to do this adaptation, so today we’ll use Singapore as our example of how to start marketing your business in another country.
If you’re building a business or expanding your existing business into a new country, you need a physical presence there. Otherwise, marketing your business overseas will likely fail. Hence, you’ll need the authorization to work in that country. Getting a Singapore Visa and other documents necessary to start an enterprise in the country presents problems. Go to this website to learn more about the visa process and get help obtaining a visa.
Marketing your business overseas in Singapore
Singapore made a name for itself among the many Asian countries. Not only do foreigners visit the country to learn about its unique culture and visit its many tourist destinations, but the city-state is a great place for startups interested in growing. There are 4 reasons for the appeal of Singapore for startups [source]:
- Singapore is a wealthy country, among the wealthiest in all of Asia. In 2018, the per capita income was nearly 53,000 Singapore dollars
- The country features a skilled workforce. Over 3/4 of adults completed the equivalent of high school while close to 50% have the equivalent of a college degree.
- Government regulations support business growth with favorable tax rates, especially for startups.
- Easy access to capital
And, many of these factors make Singapore a great place to expand your business once you’ve outgrown your home market or want to grow more quickly.
Grow your business in Singapore
In addition, laws and regulations in Singapore tend to favor the growth and establishment of many kinds of businesses. Every year, many people from other countries go to Singapore in search of greener pastures. Most of them are either starting businesses or are going to be employed by a business based in the city-state.
Starting a business in Singapore is not very difficult. Maybe, since you’re reading this, you already started one or you’re thinking of Singapore as a possible location for your business. Because of low barriers to entry in the city-state, competition among businesses is common. Those who have experience running their businesses for a while know competition can either make or break your business.
Competition forces companies to adapt their products to serve consumers better. Getting more customers and staying ahead of your competitors is really the name of the game when it comes to success. That means getting a bigger share of wallet from consumers, in other words, convincing them to spend a higher percentage of their disposable income with you rather than competitors and substitutes.
Profit is important for any business to succeed. As a business owner, you must look for new ways for your business to succeed, which means bringing in new customers to your business and increasing the volume of purchases made by existing customers. Marketing is your tool to achieve these twin goals.
Collaborate with locals
The main message of international marketing is
Think global; act local
Hence, when moving into any new market, get to know the market–the customer, the competition, the culture, and distribution systems. Unlike some countries, Singapore doesn’t require a local partner for legal authority to do business in the country, but you should, at a minimum, get advice from locals to optimize your chances of success in the business.
- Are there laws or regulations that impact your business plans?
- Culture is a lens that clouds your worldview. And, it’s hard to take those lenses off to see differences in culture that might impact your business. Mirroring locals as a means of accommodating their culture can backfire spectacularly. For instance, most cultures have aspects of the culture that belong to them alone and when others try to appropriate those aspects, it’s viewed as insulting. Or, potentially worse, inauthentic.
- Distribution systems impact your business opportunities. For instance, if customers buy products frequently, such as daily grocery shopping, they want products packaged in small quantities, not 5-pound bags.
- Advertising is often when your ignorance shows up most spectacularly.
In each of these cases, collaborating with local businesses or potential customers help guide your plans in marketing your business overseas.
Social media presence
It is fair to say that, currently, marketing works differently because of advances in technology. Businesses utilize various forms of technology to help reach their goals. Today, social media plays a significant role in helping businesses market themselves. Rather than using marketing strategies that require a huge outlay of funds, social media offers a meaningful, rewarding, and cost-effective way of marketing your business regardless of where you’re marketing.
Of course, a major consideration is how social media works in the country you wish to enter. Facebook is the 600-pound gorilla in the room in the US and some other countries. Still, other country users prefer social platforms that fit with their particular culture. For instance, QQ is popular in China, while QZone is popular in most of Asia, except for Russia, which has its own preferred social platform.
Hence, as you ensure your business has a strong social media presence be sure to focus on the platforms popular with your target market.
To build your social media presence in Singapore requires a large number of followers on various social media platforms, since, in addition to QZone, Facebook and other platforms are popular. This can be achieved by giving rewards to those who share the content you provide to other social media users. Tools for building social networks include crafting valuable content, offering rewards (some musicians offer unique or early access to songs available only to users in their social network) or discounts for users who join your network, or employ a stable of influencers to spread your message so that new users join your network.
Ensure your business presence on several social media platforms popular with your target audience (see more on this below). Create a content strategy that engages users by providing value in terms of information or entertainment. Ensure you engage with your customers and prospective online by making social media a two-way conversation, not just another channel to spread your message. In the end, you’ll create more loyal customers to your business in the long run with this strategy.
Focus on your target market
Many startup businesses make a mistake of targeting a wide variety of potential customers when marketing; thinking that the bigger the audience the bigger the profit.
This thinking is just wrong-headed because the opposite is actually true. Plus, a strategy that targets too wide an audience or has no targeting strategy wastes a lot of money.
You must identify the specific customers who are the best prospects for your business. For example, if your business sells gadgets and different kinds of electronics like phones, you may want to target young people since a high percentage of that population values new technology. Once you have identified your ideal target market, learn as much as possible about them then focus on ways to get their attention.
Attend public events and local activities
When marketing your business overseas, regardless of which country you enter, become a part of that community by making business and personal connections with locals. Sponsor local events and contribute to local charities as a way of being a good corporate citizen in your chosen country.
Marketing is essential for any business to succeed and reach its full potential. Once you successfully started your business in Singapore, you need to consider using the above-mentioned strategies for your business to grow. Singapore, like other countries with a favorable business environment and affluent citizens, attracts lots of businesses, so you’ll have lots of competition. For your business to stand out and make more profit, you must prioritize marketing in your strategic planning and employ these tactics.
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