In this week’s blog, we explore the 3 things that will be now crucial to consider for those companies looking to enter a foreign market post-pandemic.

We know we’re stating the obvious when we say that COVID-19 has changed the way we do business for good. But this especially applies to entering a foreign market.

If you’ve got your sights set on going global, whether it be through exporting or international expansion, then you’ll have likely strapped yourself in for a tough ride. You’ll know as well as us that success in overseas markets doesn’t just happen overnight.

Foreign market strategy pre-pandemic

But, in our pre-pandemic world, there were some tried-and-tested routes for entering a foreign market. If you were selling a product, you’d need to get it physically in front of customers, meaning negotiating to get footholds in overseas stores and planning a high-impact product launch. For those service-led companies, you’d have likely been looking to fly overseas, attend global conferences and trade shows and network hard.

Laptop with currency on top

The problem is that these routes are currently all but closed. And here’s the thing: No-one can be certain when the coronavirus pandemic will let up. Even if large-scale events can begin happening again sometime soon, there is always the looming threat of a second peak. And that’s why we need to get used to the ‘new normal’ of doing business overseas.

Yes, it’s a well-worn cliche by now, but it’s true: Your strategy for entering a foreign market post-COVID-19 is going to have to be totally reexamined and overhauled. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of the 3 most important things to consider when entering a foreign market in the age of the ‘new normal’.

1. Market research is going to be fundamental

We’d like to think that thorough and in-depth market research would be at the top of the to-do list of any business looking to break into a foreign market. But when D-I-Y routes prove time-consuming and agencies pricey, market research is pushed down the priorities list more often than you might think.

But this won’t cut it anymore. Global markets are facing great uncertainty and rapid change. Everything you thought you knew about your target customer may be very well turned on its head. That’s why market research is going to be essential for successfully entering foreign markets. It’s because:

  • Pre-pandemic research will probably no longer be useful or meaningful. Consumer habits have changed dramatically across the world, and you’ll need to find out how and why.
  • Traditional knowledge-gathering methods like surveys will give you a more accurate picture of what is actually happening in your target market in real-time.
  • You can stay a step ahead of your competition. According to a report by Bellwether, a net balance of -21.0% of marketers reported a drop in research spending during the first three months of the year.
Man looking at spreadsheets

2. Virtual events are the future.

When we all scrambled to shift to digital working back in late March, many of our networking and events were moved online too. But although we’re all probably a lot more familiar with our Zoom settings than we were a few months ago, will it be enough to successfully enter a new market virtually?

Well, if you ever took the attitude that virtual events were merely a stop-gap until the world starts turning again, then we have some news: Virtual events are here to stay. With many of us also anxiously trying to reduce our carbon footprint, it’s likely that the regular global conference crowd will start rethinking their air miles. We’re not saying that this is the end of trade shows or large-scale industry events, but that people are seeing the value in taking them digital more frequently.

So, the challenge has been set: If you want to break into a foreign market post-COVID-19, you’re going to have to learn how to do your digital events well. Got multilingual attendees? You’re going to need live captioning. And what about fostering accessibility? You’ll need to consult with an agency to determine your needs. Your virtual presence now means everything – you just have to make sure you can get your message across properly.

3. Your brand has to resonate.

According to the World Bank, the pandemic has plunged the global economy into a deep recession. To survive this, businesses will have to be innovative and flexible – for many, this will mean seeking out new overseas markets.

However, the world is now in a different place. Brand loyalty in overseas markets is now hard-won. According to Marketing Dive, 83% of consumers said behaviour by a company’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic will influence whether they buy from that company post-pandemic. This means that you need to strategise your PR, communications and marketing to ensure it resonates with your international, multilingual customers: Actions taken now will determine how you’ll fare in the post-pandemic economy.

But how can you do this on a practical level? Well, translation is important if you want to be merely understood. However, where nuance and connection is critical, you should opt for transcreation. Transcreation involves taking a message in one language and rewriting the text from scratch so that it carries the same emotional impact in the target language. The result is compelling, native-sounding copy that can persuade, influence or impact.

The message is clear: Invest in your customers now and you’ll be rewarded.

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