Marketing for B2B International Business Growth

international business growth
 
Rob Cullum

As technology continues to make the world smaller, more and more B2B companies are taking steps to grow their business abroad and maximise on the growth opportunities these new international markets offer. Marketing plays a critical role in achieving successful international business growth, and there’s a lot to consider. Read on to discover how strategic marketing can help expand your business into new international territories and help set you up for success.

Global marketing vs international marketing

If you’re aiming to grow your business internationally, it’s important to be clear about your goals. Are you looking to operate worldwide or in specific regions or countries? This distinction may seem very specific, but is vital to help determine your international marketing strategy. There are two key types of marketing strategy to consider to meet the goal of international business growth:

Global marketing

Global marketing involves selling the same products or services worldwide, and the whole world is your potential marketplace.

International marketing

International marketing focuses on country-specific marketing, tailoring products for different locations if required, and marketing to each target market separately.

Even with global marketing, you’re likely to require at least small differentiations in messaging and targeting. For example, McDonald’s would be considered a global company which is recognised and clearly understood as a fast food restaurant worldwide. But it’s well-known that there are also local variations in McDonald’s menus to cater to different tastes and cultures.

Do your market and competitor research

When looking to achieve international business growth, it’s vital to put in the groundwork. With each new location potentially requiring a different marketing approach, it’s often helpful to split your expansion plans into stages, targeting key markets first, rather than taking a broader “one size fits all approach”. This will allow you to test the waters and ensure budgets are spent wisely.

First consider the specific markets you’re looking to target. Which countries or regions are the most suitable to expand into? Where do you see the greatest opportunities and the lowest barriers to entry? It can be useful to identify target countries and rank them in terms of suitability, splitting them into phases according to the comparative challenges of targeting each.

You may want to start by looking at markets which operate in a similar way to the current ones in which you work, such as those using the same language for business, operating within similar regulations, having similar demographics or located in nearby time zones or geographical areas. For example, 75% of US tech companies looking to expand into Europe target the UK, Ireland or the Netherlands first due to the common language and similar cultural and business outlook.

At this stage, you should also consider how you will be operating internationally. For example, will you be using channel partners or selling direct to customers? This can have a significant impact on your targeting decisions.

As part of this research, establish how well your products or services would fit within these different markets and whether you would need to make any changes or focus on marketing only a subset of your offering. Identifying any cultural challenges, perhaps in relation to your name or logo, the imagery on your website, or the language or tone of voice you typically use in your marketing, is important at this stage.

Building on this further, identify who your competitors are. This may include global competitors or local competitors operating in individual regions or markets you’re targeting. Consider how they’re marketing themselves, their branding and messaging, the channels they are using. How can you position yourself differently? Identify the opportunities to differentiate and the unique value you can add.

Making your business look more global

Having undertaken your research, it’s time to use everything you’ve learned to make your business look more global. It will take a while for your business to actually grow internationally, and one of the best ways you can achieve this is by ensuring your business actually looks global. This will help build trust and ensure you are perceived in the right way by potential international customers.

One of the most effective ways to make your business look more global is through branding. This encompasses both your visual brand and your brand messaging. Firstly, look at your website and online presence, as this is the primary way international customers are likely to discover you, and the first impression you will give.

Using your competitor research, you need to consider whether your logo and colour palette are appropriate in an international setting of whether you need a brand update to better position you as a global company. An experienced international marketing agency such as Motion can offer significant support with this and ensure your logo and colours are as strong as possible and sending the right message. For example, in some countries certain colours or shapes have additional meaning associated with them, or your logo may be too similar to one used by a local company.

Considering your website branding further, critically evaluate the imagery you are using and whether you need to update it to give a more global feel. Will your potential international customers see themselves reflected in that imagery, or are you using images of people, buildings and scenarios which only represent your own culture? Likewise, do you need to use a different tone of voice in your communications to suit different cultures or non-native speakers of the language?

As well as the ways in which you use language, it’s important to ensure your key messaging works in a global marketplace, from both a comprehension and SEO point of view. Perhaps you need to use different keywords and terminology in different locations, or focus on a different aspect of the benefits your business offers. You may also need to adapt your media mix and the different marketing channels you use in order to reach your audience.

The benefits of an international marketing agency

The level of research and activity required to achieve international business growth can be significant, and is critical to its success. An international marketing agency with a solid understanding of different global markets can help identify the most suitable strategy to effectively achieve your goals, and focus on the best ways to deliver results.

At Motion, we operate internationally with clients around the world, so are highly experienced in delivering successful global marketing campaigns and supporting our customers’ growth into new international markets. We are currently working with a number of clients to expand their businesses internationally, including a company in the Middle East who we are helping move into multiple new regions.

Discover why you should invest in B2B marketing >

As well as experience in achieving international business growth, internationally-focused marketing agencies are well-placed to carry out the vital activity required to get results. With international branding experts, digital specialists to ensure the best use of online channels, and technical content writers who can adapt writing styles and messaging to suit different international audiences, you can benefit from high quality, effective results delivered by an expert team.

If you’re looking to expand internationally or position your company as a global business, get in touch with the Motion team and we’ll be happy to discuss your international ambitions.

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