Magazine article International Trade Forum

Creating World-Class Marketing Materials

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Creating World-Class Marketing Materials

Article excerpt

Strong marketing materials and successful networking skills are a plus for any business, but they are vital for companies that export services. This article and the following one are excerpts from a recent ITC publication, Successful Services Exporting.

Developing your message

The first tangible representation of your service is your promotional material, including your business card. These will be kept long after you are gone, especially as often you do not have a sample of an actual service that potential customers can keep and inspect. In thinking about the message that you want your marketing materials to convey, keep in mind that what matters to customers is the benefit that they will derive from your service. You will want to develop a "benefits message" and provide examples to support it, such as:

Adaptations of your service to different markets or client groups;

Specialized applications of your service;

Difficult circumstances under which you have performed well;

Examples of experience with foreign clients.

Cultural factors to consider

There are over 200 countries in the world and many more subcultures within those countries. Of course, you will not be targeting all countries, but you will probably target more than just one or two. You will want to develop promotional materials that are as versatile as possible in adapting to different cultures. Some of the factors that are likely to vary by culture include the meaning of different colours, the types of pictures or images that are appropriate and the interpretation of specific terminology. It will be important to have your marketing materials reviewed by someone from the market you are targeting to make sure that you have addressed cultural sensitivities appropriately.

Business cards: your primary marketing tool

Your most important marketing tool is your business card. It is what others will keep to remember you by and, even more importantly, it represents the quality of your service to a potential client. It will help if you take out your business card and look at it as if you were seeing it for the first time. What impression does it make on you? Does it look professional? Is the address information clear and complete? Do you have electronic access information, such as your e-mail address and an Internet address so that you seem accessible?

When potential customers look at your card, they will make unconscious assumptions about factors like whether or not you are willing to invest the resources to do a good job (professionally designed and typeset cards), whether you are well qualified (the presence or absence of credentials), whether you think internationally (the presence or absence of your country in your address), whether you will be easy to contact (the presence or absence of electronic addresses), and so on.

Another factor that you will need to think about is the matter of accommodating other languages. One practical approach is to use the back of the card for the language of the market you are targeting. To maintain your professional image, you will want to have that side of card properly printed with your logo.

Finally, include a full telephone number with your country and city codes, and your complete address, since express mail services do not deliver to post box numbers. …

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