Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: The world of tech and telecom is shrinking, with more and more companies expanding their services to new markets, or bringing on partners to tackle uncharted territory. JSA is expanding too, looking to new markets and always following market trends to better understand where our clients need us most. But venturing out to new markets does not come without its challenges and common barriers to entry. That’s why, for our latest article in Forbes titled, “Tips for Taking Your Brand Global, Starting with Canada” I thought it best to bring in JSA’s Vice President of Strategy & Global Markets, Barb Mitchell. Barb, what inspired you to write this piece?
Barb Mitchell: For over 20 years I have been working on global brands, based out of Canada. At JSA I have the opportunity each and every day to work with leading organizations who are looking to elevate their presence in the global marketplace. The largest challenge that most companies face in attaining this objective is in tackling the differences, regionally and globally, that they need to address with their brands. In Canada, we see this within the country – strategies on National brands must differ according to region, with Quebec, for example, often requiring a completely unique approach. Canadian companies also must often adapt global or US-based brands to create relevancy in the marketplace. It is essential for organizations to have a strategy in place to plan a new market rollout, considering all aspects of the new market dynamics, in order to succeed.
JSC: What do you see as the biggest challenges when a company wants to “go global” or branch out into any new market for that matter?
BM: I often espouse the belief that in order to succeed in a new market that you need to do the work of truly understanding it. This goes beyond the cursory understanding of what language is spoken and the basic geography of the place. It means understanding the key drivers of the economy and the political landscape. Getting to know the regulatory bodies that are in place, who owns and controls the media, and what topics resonate with local citizens. There are very recent examples where what seems to be of critical importance in the US market may not resonate in the Canadian market and vice versa. The nationality of companies supporting behind-the-scenes infrastructure development with their equipment, for example, may bubble to the top of a national agenda in one country and not the other. This complicates things for global players who need to navigate intricate political dynamics.
JSC: What strategies should be employed to ensure a smooth entry into a new market?
BM: First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the overall market dynamics. Understand the key players, be aware of the trending topics and get to know the local media. Once you have done this, the work can begin on setting key objectives, defining a strategy specific to the new market, and outlining your tactics. As a new entrant to the market, raising brand awareness will be key, and targeting key journalists and analysts as well as prospective customers with company news and relevant content will help to elevate your profile locally. Consider becoming involved in local organizations and associations. Industry organizations offer great networking opportunities, but don’t forget the local Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce offices. When dealing in a new country often your home country will have a local chamber office whose mandate is to support businesses as they develop in new markets. Become a thought leader, get involved, and most importantly, become part of the local conversation. Make sure that you modify your approach, your content and your message to be on target and relevant to the market that you are speaking to.
JSC: Specifically for tech and telecom companies, what are potential pitfalls they can find themselves in during this process?
BM: Companies can often fall into the trap of feeling that what is known and understood of them in their home market should be the same globally. It’s key to remember that not only does the market you are entering not have the same background and understanding of who you are and what you stand for, entirely different things may be important to them, depending on who you are talking to and local market dynamics. The competitive landscape, the economics, the politics and culture are all elements that may be different. It is a mistake to take a strategy that has worked successfully in one market and assume that it will work in another. Each market should feel like the launch of a new brand, with all the same work and discipline applied.
JSC: Is there anything else you’d like to add, Barb?
BM: It is so important when navigating the world and the global markets that are opening up to all of us, to be part of the global conversation. In day to day life and work it is so easy to be focused on the 100 mile radius around ourselves and our businesses, but having a global awareness is critical. Ask the right questions. Be intellectually curious. No matter how successful, or large, or dominant your business is in its established market, be prepared to apply a certain degree of humbleness. See the world and new markets with fresh eyes, absorb it all and truly understand that we all play a small part in a bigger picture. Only then can you be the artist – pick up the brush and create the bigger picture for yourself.
To read the entire Forbes article, click here.
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