Developing an Export Marketing Plan

Developing an Export Marketing Plan

Sales vs. Marketing

A large majority of companies seem to confuse marketing from sales all too often. A simple way to distinguish the two is to view the entire transaction/sales pursuit process as a timeline. On the far left (or beginning) we have lead generation, cold calls, etc., and on
the far right (the last steps) we have a transaction close. While marketing is frequently attributed to actions of advertising such as social media posts, billboard, TV, radio, or online advertising, the scope of marketing can be more generally defined as everything which precedes a closed sale. In other words, all publicly visible actions on the sales timeline continuum which precede the close of the sale have a role in marketing. Regardless of any cookie-cutter marketing tactics you execute, make sure to recognize that every step along the sales timeline continuum is either building or harming your brand.

If the goal of marketing is to increase the public’s awareness of your company, increase sales, and communicate the value of your brand over alternatives, there are a myriad of “givens” regarding action steps that must be taken. Knowing the market you’re appealing to, understanding the value of your brand, learning your target audience and demographic, and communicating unique selling points fall amongst other common business jargon statements used to communicate the keystones to marketing a brand. In fact, they’re so common that you have probably read them in every article you could find in a 5-minute Google search. However, none of these suggestions offer clarity or real solutions on how to survive in international markets. What you need are concrete, hard answers to what tools are required for creating an export marketing plan.


If the term still isn’t clear to you, export marketing is simply expanding your business internationally to manage the marketing procedures of your brand in other countries besides your own. There is a lot of substance to the subject, and without a clear plan for how you will navigate about foreign markets, your international efforts are destined for failure. We’ll talk about the procedure later, but in case you’re on the fence about whether or not you want to export market your business, let’s talk about some of the benefits.

While it can be a tricky topic, research shows that export marketing can increase your brand’s chances of survival by close to 12%. These results stem from the fact that export marketing diversifies your potential customer base. Another major selling point of global expansion is the benefit of outsourcing. Outsourcing operations to companies within another country you operate in can greatly reduce costs, time, and communication roadblocks in the brand building process. Finally, export marketing will increase your overall revenue. More locations means more customers which ultimately means more profit for you and your company.

What Do I Need for an Export Marketing Plan?

We know you’re just as eager to move your goods and services overseas and start building global brand recognition as the next guy is, but before you start your journey, here are a few “pre-steps” you should take to ensure your expansion is as efficient and cost-effective as possible:

1) Finding the Best Area

It’s important to know which country(ies) are going to be the most receptive of your brand and products. As much as you’d like to picture your goods being paddled by an oarsman up and down the canals of Venice, finding a market with the right competition stats for your industry is crucial. Learning about international markets in most countries shouldn’t be too difficult. Some simple online research should give you snap shot glimpses at overseas markets. Be on the lookout for: digital marketing capabilities, overall economy direction, and the market infrastructure.

2) Study the Cultural Marketing Trends

In the U.S., billboard and road-side advertising seem almost ancient. However, there are more than a handful of overseas countries who use these methods as key marketing tactics for strengthening brand awareness and sales. If you have the margin, taking a trip to the country you want to market in to experience it first hand as a potential consumer can teach you a lot.

3) Learn About Cultural Differences in the Industry

This should go without saying, but try to get as good of a grasp as you can on cultural behaviors and attitudes towards the industry you plan marketing in. If it’s food, what does the packaging on most consumer packaged goods look like in the country you’re exporting to?
Even Coca-Cola changes the color of their bottles in different countries due to differing market perceptions.

Plan Layout and Reasoning

In the same way that you would create (or should have created) a domestic marketing plan based on your understanding of your own country’s market, it’s time to create an export marketing plan based on the research you have done on your foreign market. The purpose behind creating a marketing plan is 1) So you have clear set guidelines to maintain organization and persistence in
expansion, and 2) To give lenders a reason to invest in your company and its new international endeavors.

1) Introduction

Similar to an executive description. Have a brief description of your company, your products, the country you are targeting, and your plan for moving into the new market.

2) Research

You need to clearly indicate what type of research you conducted, and why it proves that moving into your target international market is worth it. This section is especially important for investors. Be as clear as possible on the sources and research approaches you used to gain any information related to you dictating the country worthwhile for your export marketing plan.

3) Situational Analysis

Make sure to pour a lot of attention into this section of your report, as it will contain various subsections such as a: company analysis, your firm’s skills and selling points, an international market analysis, legal factors in the foreign country, social and cultural factors,
demographic and technological trends, the size and extent of demand, and a competitive industry analysis. By far, this will be the lengthiest section of your plan, but it’s important to make sure you give a thorough layout of your company, how they will fit in the foreign market, and how the market will receive your brand.

4) SWOT Analysis

This is perhaps one of the easiest sections of your plan. A combination of a bit of creative thought and research should tell you where your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are in the country you are planning on exporting to. Although it’s the easiest and quickest section to create, don’t overlook it. A good SWOT Analysis can provide a nice snapshot view of what your concerns should be as you move forward with the plan.

5) Objectives

Specify exactly how many resources you are going to need to effectively operate and expand your business overseas. You can break this down into two subsections:

International Objectives

Highlight why you want to expand into international locations.

Market Objectives

This will be a little lengthier, but walk through information such as the market
segments you plan on marketing to, how you want to stand against your
competition in a few years after exporting, and your export volume and
return goals.

6) Marketing Mix and Entry Strategy

Your 4 p’s: product, price, place, and promotion. Understand what you are bringing to the market, how much you will charge (according to market competition benchmarks), where you will place your product (within the foreign country) and how you will promote it (your marketing strategy.)

7) Budgeting

Before you get too carried away with executing the perfect marketing plan to overthrow your competition and become a global leader, your budget needs to offer a reality check on what’s realistic for your company in the present moment and what margin you will have in the future. Describe what your initial budget for the first export marketing steps will be, and how much you are forecasting to have in 3 to 5 years given your best realistic guess at future outcomes.

8) Measurement and Control

Lastly, you need to have a clearly laid out process for how you will measure and control your marketing objectives. Will your marketing success be based on revenue growth, export demand consistency or growth, unit volume, or brand presence growth? While you may want it to be every one of those, measurement is hard work. Pick a few metrics to start with that will give you a quick view at whether or not your marketing efforts are successful and forecast what you think to be reasonable goals for your first 3 years of export marketing efforts.


4 thoughts on “Developing an Export Marketing Plan

  1. A good comprehensive piece of information. Sales and marketing are certainly closely interlinked and are meant at increasing revenue for businesses remarkably.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *