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Chapter 3: Developing a Marketing Plan

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • Writing a marketing strategy
  • Researching foreign markets
  • Methods and sources of information
 

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SUMMARY

Just as a good marketing plan is a key component of a good export strategy, good research is a key component of a good marketing plan. Research can come at different points in the marketing process. You may do intensive research before you begin to move overseas, or you may wait until you’ve met some prospective buyers. In any case, comprehensive research will be invaluable. Among other things, it can tell you a lot about where to focus your resources.

That’s important because foreign markets can differ from the United States in many ways, including in:

  • Climatic and environmental factors
  • Social and cultural factors
  • Local availability of raw materials or product alternatives
  • Lower wage costs
  • Varying amounts of purchasing power
  • The availability of foreign exchange
  • Government import controls

Thus, to successfully export your products, you need research that will help you identify market opportunities and constraints, as well as prospective buyers and customers. The results of market research will tell you:

  • The largest markets for your product and the fastest-growing markets
  • Market trends and outlook
  • Market conditions and practices
  • Competing companies and products

Primary vs. Secondary Research Data
One of the two main types of research data is primary. You collect this directly from the foreign marketplace through means such as interviews, surveys, and direct contact with representatives and potential buyers. It can be time-consuming and expensive to collect, and it may not be comprehensive. However, you can tailor it to your needs. The U.S. Commercial Service can, for a fee, collect such data for you and help you analyze it, or it can help you find intermediaries with specific market expertise.

The other main type of research data is secondary, which you get from sources such as trade statistics for specific countries or products. This type is less expensive and helps you focus your marketing efforts. Although valuable, it has limitations. It may be somewhat old, for example, or too broad to be of much value to your company. Still, there are good ways to obtain and make use of secondary data so that it will give you as much benefit as possible. Here, too, the U.S. Commercial Service is a valuable source of both information and guidance. There is also a tremendous variety of other sources. They include numerous U.S. government organizations, as well as many international organizations and agencies.

A Step-by-Step Approach
Your company may find the following step-by-step approach useful in researching and assessing overseas markets:

  • Obtain export statistics.
  • Identify potential markets.
  • Target the most promising markets.
  • Examine product trends.
  • Research the competition.
  • Analyze marketing factors.
  • Identify any barriers.
  • Identify any incentives.
  • Draw conclusions.

This chapter’s Success Story is Zeigler Brothers, which sells specialty animal foods and aquatic diets to 50 countries and has manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania and Mexico.


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