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7 Mistakes Stopping You From Developing Your International Markets

Most businesses would like to develop their markets and embrace the opportunity of developing internationally… but very few actually do anything about going global.  Part of the reason behind this lethargy is a lack of knowledge about their international market opportunities.  Some in-house international market research can provide you with the knowledge you need to move forward.

Let’s look at 7 mistakes in international market research that are keeping many businesses from developing their international markets to their full potential.

#1: You Don’t Research Your Own Client And Prospect Data Base Thoroughly

If you already have a few international clients spread out over the world you are should take advantage of this.  Your own data base on international clients is the most useful resource you have because it is the most relevant one to your own business.

Remember to dig through this thoroughly.  Look for any trends or trigger events concerning the sales you have already made that could help you develop effective strategies today.

#2: You Don’t Identify Where Your Competitors Are Overseas

It is a big mistake not to spend some time researching your competitor’s international penetration history and current international targets.  This information can give you a wealth of information for your own international markets.

Remember to spend time observing what your competitors are doing abroad.

#3: You Don’t Research Industry Data Well Enough

Many unpleasant international blunders can be avoided with a little in-depth industry research.  Although this research is usually easy to find online, your particular industry might need some feedback from the relevant local advisers, the key is to know when to ask for help.

Remember to research the differences in industry standards and regulations on the foreign countries you are looking at and to get the right advice your business need.

#4: You Don’t Listen To What’s In The Press

Staying current on topics related to your international business development can help you avoid errors and it can also help you open doors. You need to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry, the country and the area of the world you are interested in, in order to have the right conversations.

Remember to keep an eye on what is published in your own country and also in both the country and the region of the world you are focusing on.

#5: You Don’t Do Local SEO Research

Localized web research can provide you with some useful insights into local markets. This will give you a better idea of who your real competitors are in these countries.

Remember to check out the most popular local search engines and do keyword research in those countries.

#6: You Don’t Go Beyond Online Research

Online research is great, but it can only take you so far. You need to get information from good local sources too.

Remember to make contacts within your local foreign markets.  Instead of spending most of your time with online research, as soon as you have identified the names of the players and possible trends, reverse this trend and spend more time networking with the right players in your local target market.

#7: You Don’t Talk To People In Your International Markets

Business is carried out between people all over the world.  If there is one thing you should do, it is to pick up the phone and connect with people.  You might need to call and reach out to different people continually for several weeks or a few months.  You might need to improve your cross-cultural communication skills to get more out of these calls. But reaching out and connecting with local people will always help you to develop your business internationally.

Remember the value of speaking to the right people in your international markets.

Spend Time On International Market Research

When looking at the 7 mistakes above, it is obvious that the biggest mistake of all is not spending enough time on international market research.  This is why it is a good idea to allocate time every day to combine international networking with international market research activities.  All you need is to include this into your daily routines. It usually only takes a couple of months before most businesses get a very good idea of what they need to do next and how to go about doing it.

Do you want to get international clients?  What are you doing about it?
What other mistakes do you think people make in researching which markets to develop?

Cindy King is a cross-cultural marketer helping businesses develop globally with international social media. Follow Cindy on Twitter @CindyKing

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Cindy, another mistake, which you regularly cover in your posts, is lack of cultural awareness. At yesterday’s Winning International Business with the Internet conference (which I chaired – see my post in this section), a few simple mistakes were pointed out. is an Irish brand. On the Pigs back is a well known and used expression in Ireland yet it is unknown in the UK. We are so familiar with it that it would never occur to us that the British didn’t use it too. Understanding the cultural relationship with particular numbers was another one pointed out yesterday. In China some numbers are lucky, some unlucky.

  • Thanks for the comment Una. I was thinking about the mistakes people make before taking any real action when writing this post. You are right, there are many more potential mistakes during the actual process of going international.

  • Hi Cindy, when Dave Brock was over, he talked about time commitments and our attitudes towards time. For instance, in some countries deadlines are rarely met whereas in others they are consistently met and to do otherwise would sour the relationship. Another area he talked about was what he termed the “pesky details”. These little differences can at first appear to be very small but can invariably cause huge issues. I suppose these would both fall under the banner of cultural difference.

  • Anonymous

    Think most individuals/biz have become more cost conscious over the last 12-18 months as revenues have dropped. It really shouldn’t be an exercise for tight time though!!

    Not so relevant for my biz. If you do develop a I would be very interested as those costs are out of control 🙂


  • Good example Niall. Agree – the real cost for time/resource is often considerable underestimated. Unfortunately, as was the case above, this can happen when it’s too take to do anything about it and you’ve absorbed the cost into your books. Diligence is required!

  • This is such an important reminder for all of us in our businesses, Barney.

    As my business grows, I am becoming painfully aware of what I spend my personal time on. As a friend of mine says about business owners and leaders, we should make sure we spend our time on our “highest and best use.”

    – Anita

  • Hi Anita. Thanks for the comment. I like that quote – “make sure we spend our time on our highest and best use” – that’s spot on!


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