How to internationalize your company in the internet age

Once the decision has been taken to enter foreign markets there are several options to establish your company in the new market. It’s going to be a great adventure!

Your options
1. Building a localized website AND opening local with an expat or local workforce
2. Just building a localized website and having an account manager deal with the market remotely

There are more options, but I am keeping it simple here.

-Option 1 is very involved. It takes a lot of preparation, a business plan, hiring local staff, relocating a expat, establishing a local office and a warehouse. Building a local website and creating a local Adwords campaign
-Option 2 is the cheaper option. Just translating the home market website and an Adwords advertising campaign.

Start online
Sometimes there is no other option than to go for option 1 and open that local office. But generally it is better to go growth hacking and to just start the webshop and the advertizing. Say you are going from a small European country to the USA. A manned office easily costs 30 K Euro per month. Throw in an Adwords campaign and its another 10 K. Just built a website for say 5.000 Euro’s one time plus 10 K for Adwords to drive visitors to your site and you are saving 355 K per annum. Just building the web site may seem like a slow start. But you can start analyzing your website after few months and find out in what starts there is most interest for your products. The website will generate leads which will convert in customers. Building relationships with clients will be great for understanding the market.

The next level
Once there are 20 plus customers there is much greater knowledge of the market plus a revenue stream which will pay for a local office. This step will then naturally flow out of a web only approach.

The next article will be a how-to of creating a local website

Scraping the bottom of the B2B barrel online

Scraping the bottom of the B2B barrel online

When we compare to the quality or value of the average client which was won by internet marketing to the average client which we found using off line methods the quality of the former is lower than that of the latter.

The quality of the kind of person looking for a solution on Google is lower than a person who uses his experience or network for finding solutions. Is there a person more ignorant than the one who looks for his answer on a search engine? On the other hand the average person who represents a company in the client portfolio of a non-online marketing has more knowledge of the products, the market and pricing. They got to the company by picking up the phone or sending an email or meeting in person.

How to make money from low-grade online B2B clients

Traditional companies concentrating on the high quality, high value clients will notice that they are standing still. There is small growth in high value, high quality big clients. There is great growth in tiny start-ups however. These know-nothing clients start from the garage needing all kinds of B2B solutions to sell their products and services. They find them online using google.

Grow with the customer

In order to win then over strong Adwords advertising campaigns are necessary, a good website, low-end products with decent pricing compared to the other online offerings. After this low-grade customer placed their initial order placed the online company waits. Although quite a few of these clients will go broke or quit others will thrive and grow. They will grow in turnover and size, they will grow in their needs and they will grow in knowledge. The online company has to keep track of them, offer information on the website and keep in touch using phone and email. With more advanced offerings the full potential of the relationship will be fulfilled and the online B2B company will grow with its customer base. This is how we make money in B2B online.

Corporate communications: graphic or wordy?

Recently I was speaking to the CEO of a company growing quickly on corporate communications. He wanted to renew his corporate site. This wordy site showed his corporations’ labels, services and showcased some projects. The site received decent organic traffic from Google, no advertising.

Going for the best impression

The CEO had a new site designed with lots of pictures and very little text. His reasoning? No body reads text anyway.

He is wrong even if he is right.

What is the goal of a corporate site? A corporate site should assist the CEO and any Business Developers in Business Development. Existing business runs in meetings, mails and calls. High level new business needs back up by a web site. Pictures may get the message accross, emotionally.

But in order to be found by companies who do not know you requires the site being discovered on web searches by other CEOs looking for the services and product which you offer.

Engage by being engaging

Google, the search engines, will only show you if your website has lots of interesting engaging stories about you and your business. You need to be open or you will risk to end up in a cul de sac of the internet.

The visitors to your website who do not read, are not in the market anyway.

After Sales and Trust

In International Online Sales it is essential to maintain trust after it has been established. This article raises two questions:

1.What can be done to maintain trust and stay in customers’ confidence?

2.Does trust work the same in different countries?

Trusting-like-a-child

Three step trust program

The first step is to always ask for feedback. New customers must be asked how their experience was with our company. Soon after the product has arrived with the customer he should receive a quick simple survey email to ask him how was the buying experience. The message should only contain 3-5 questions and focus on whether the experience was: 1. bad. 2. as expected 3. recommendable to friends and partners. The customer should be able to finish the survey in less than a minute.

At the time of the making of the sale, customer service should ask for an email address where the survey can be sent, to ensure high rates of participation.

Stay in contact. Get in touch with the client when you ship his goods. Once the goods have arrived, check with the cusomer again to check if everything is okay. Make sure customer service is not too busy to keep in touch with customers. If customers are forgotten the moment his goods are shipped, the custoemer will feel this and shall not be loyal. If you take care of any potential shortcomings before they are felt we will gain the customer’s confidence and win his confidence.

Act like a virgin. This means you should treat each customer like he is the first. Do not be afraid to be honest about the size of the company. A small company needs its customers and should not be afraid to show eagerness. Clients will feel loyal to a supplier who needs their business and treats them accordingly.

Comparing trust internationally 

Online marketing is very much a North American invention and the main unspoken assumption is that Online Marketing is similar accross the globe. However, just within Europe there is a big difference between one country and the next with regards to trust. In southern European countries there is less trust as has been established in the work of the Political Scientist Francis Fukuyama. E.g.in his book “Trust“.

Trust-Fukuyama

In “Trust” Fukuyama establishes that levels of public trust differ from nation to nation. He shows that there are political consequences but more relevantly economic consequences too. In low-trust societies it is more difficult to make transactions happen. The USA is a high-trust society and so are northern European countries. But in the Latin, Southern European countries trust is generally lower and buyers need more assurance to buy than a website can give them. So they will use a web shop as a catalogue, but will only purchase after personal contact through a phone call with a customer service. They need to establish whether a businesws is legit by interacting with a real human being as a representative of that business.

Exporting southwards is a bigger investment

As a result it takes much more customer service to establish a viable business in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe or North America, something an export strategy must take into account.

Black Hat SEO destroyed by Google

Black Hats and White Hats

It has been Google’s stated goal to make their index about relevant information for searches. However for years optimization of websites was done with the intent to deceive Google into listing bad websites highly. Driving searches to websites with low usability. SEO professionals were divided into two groups. On one hand the professionals who worked within the limits of Google Webmaster Guidelines. They were called White Hat, because they were the good guys. And on the other hand the rogues who went their own way into gaining as many visitors to the websites they worked for. The latter were called Black Hat. And their techniques were called Black Hat Techniques (BHT). The Black Hatters congegrated on websites like Black Hat World.

Panda and more updates

The Black Hatters have their own argot. They make claims like: “first page in 24 hrs”.

In the past three years Google has made several major updates to their search algoritm. Names of the updates were Panda and Penguin. These updates differed from previous updates and many websites with poor content fell in the Google Index. An example are many price comparison websites. They were not using unique content. Instead they used the e.g. product descriptions of the webshops they were indexing. Price comparison websites fell in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Panda was aimed at Black Hatters using non-unique content and other spammy SEO techniques. But was Google succesful at defeating the Black Hatters. And I say Google WAS succesful.

The proof is in the text of mailings send out by Black Hatters. Read the following sentence lifted out of a Black Hat sales mail:

Black Hat SEO-Quote

Black Hat Quote

The process begins like any successful high PR link campaign with the creation of high quality information, regular blog posts, featured blog posts and quality articles make up this content.

This quote show that Black Hatters have begun using what are in fact White Hat techniques. They have lost their confidence that they can manipulate Google and are trying to create high quality reliable content as a way to reach an audience. That is just what Google wants.

Conclusion

Google has achieved its goal of destroying Black Hat.