Do you have an export marketing plan?

Your export marketing plan covers your export objectives and strategy. It is both a master plan and a tool for tracking your progress. It should be concise and well organized so you can focus on the work at hand.

Want to grow your customer base? Have you analyzed a new foreign market inside and out? Then you're ready to put together a strategy tailored to your objectives and resources.

Your export marketing plan covers your export objectives and strategy. It is both a master plan and a tool for tracking your progress. It should be concise and well organized so you can focus on the work at hand. You can regularly revise your game plan as your target markets change.

Your export marketing plan should answer the following questions:

What does your target market look like?

  • Size, growth characteristics and trends, competitor strengths and weaknesses, typical customer, etc. You will collect this information by doing export market research.
  • Typical customer—needs, buying habits and purchase drivers

To learn more, see Determining your target export market.

What are your objectives?

  • Market share, profits, positioning and organizational structure

What is your marketing strategy?

  • What products or services do you want to sell? How do they differ from what the competition offers?
  • How will you set your prices for your foreign markets? How should you position yourself with respect to the competition?
  • Where should you market your product or service? How will you organize your distribution?
  • Who will you work with?
  • What market segment will you target? What will its short- and medium-term profitability be?
  • What type of promotion will you do?
  • What financing will you need to execute your marketing strategy?
  • What steps will it take to execute your strategy?

How will you set your prices for your foreign markets?

To set your prices for your foreign markets, you will need to consider 3 factors:

  • Overhead associated with exporting, research, development, export preparation (market research, travel, translation, etc.), production, shipping and target profit percentage.
  • Price the market is willing to pay for your product or service.
  • The competition's price and your positioning.

To learn more, see How to set your prices for foreign markets.

What pricing strategy should you use?

Follow this 2-step process to establish your pricing strategy.

Step 1 is to determine your export costs based on the size of your local market.

  • If your core market is local, consider only those costs that are directly related to exporting since your overhead is already factored into your local market.
  • If your core market is foreign, all fixed and variable export costs should be factored in.

Step 2 is to choose a strategy based on market requirements. You have a number of pricing strategies to choose from:

  • Cost-plus pricing
  • Uniform pricing
  • Price discrimination (price varies by market segment)
  • Penetration pricing
  • Skimming (high price for affluent customers)

What is your foreign distribution strategy?

Build your strategy on an intimate knowledge of your distribution channels by finding answers to these questions:

  • Who does what (manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, agents, etc.)?
  • How do your potential customers buy (direct, through a distributor, through a local business, online, etc.)?
  • What intermediaries control distribution of these types of products or services?
  • What are the business practices (forms of payment, commissions, terms of payment, profit margins, etc.)?
  • What is the acceptable delivery period?
  • What kind of customer service must be provided?

Choosing your distribution strategy

Your strategy will depend on how well you know the market, your willingness to commit and your finances.

If you don't have a lot of resources, it would be best to go through a distributor that will buy your product and sell it to its customers. This gives you less control over your product and a lower profit margin, but you don't have to manage a sales team or provide after-sales service.

If you want to have greater control and make a more serious commitment to the market, you can enter into a partnership agreement with an agent. This is an important step in your distribution strategy. A good agent can help you do your market research, improve your product or service and choose the best financing and transportation options for you.

A few tips:

  • Ask an attorney to help draw up the contract with your agent and consider these fees an investment.
  • Carefully assess your needs and sales targets.
  • Contact Quebec government offices, Canadian consulates, industry associations, chambers of commerce, etc. They can refer you to the right people.

What is your foreign promotion strategy?

In order to make sales, buyers must know that you exist and that you can meet their needs. Just as in your local market, you have a variety of strategies and resources to choose from:

  • Advertising (newspapers, trade journals, TV, radio, etc.)
  • Promotional materials (leaflets, brochures, business cards)
  • Trade shows
  • Networking and personal contacts
  • Promotional campaigns
  • Website

Trade shows with a very narrow target audience are a great way to meet contractors and see what the competition is up to. But beware—it takes a long time to prepare for a show.

To learn more, see How to make the most of trade shows.

Make sure to visit federal and provincial trade missions, industry associations and chambers of commerce. You can often make appointments ahead of time with businesses in your industry. It's best to choose a mission that focuses on your specific industry.

Get to know the trade commissioners at Canadian consulates and Maisons du Québec. They know their markets inside and out and can put you in touch with businesses that can help you or work with you.

A website is still a must. Provided you have an active strategy in place (search engine optimization, direct invitations to have buyers come see your product or service and its applications), it's a cheap way to get your name out to many customers.

To learn more, see Putting together an effective communications strategy.

Need a hand putting together your marketing plan? For a detailed explanation of each step of the planning process, see Desjardins interactive marketing plan.

Don't hesitate to ask your commercial account manager or financial advisor for help if you're looking to go global. They can answer your questions and refer you to people who can help you conquer foreign markets.

Desjardins can help you do business internationally, maintain good relations with your foreign customers and suppliers and manage your business risks. Contact Desjardins International Services