Tag Archive for Marketing

International trade opens a world of opportunities and offers companies access to new customers, revenue and ideas

Interview with Teresa Gualtieri, UK Trade & Investment Manager who gives us an insight of the current state of the digital landscape and her advice for any businesses looking to maximise their digital outreach.

Teresa Gualtieri

Teresa Gualtieri, UK Trade & Investment Manager.

 

What advice would you give to companies looking to trade internationally?
International trade opens a world of opportunities and offers companies access to new customers, revenue and ideas that can boost a company’s profile, credibility and bottom line. Like any other major business project, research and planning are absolutely crucial to success, as well as pulling together the essential know-how, resources and team of professionals. The experience and expertise gained in the domestic market is also invaluable and the passionate belief in your product or service is no less important.

Is there anything you need to bear in mind with cross-border e-commerce?
Every country has its own tax system, covering issues such as sales tax. As you export, it’s critical that you understand these rules and comply. Similarly, you need to know what your legal obligations will be in the new market you’re entering. This includes local laws, product standards and regulations. For example in some countries you may need to modify your product, packaging or even get your goods inspected and approved before they can be sold there.

Also, it’s critical that you have an understanding of how Intellectual Property Rights vary across your markets to protect your brand and ideas.

Have there been any recent developments that you’ve been made aware of?
Yes of course, regulations change quite often, especially in the e-commerce sector. For example, the US has recently expanded the dollar limit under which shipments can be admitted to the US with no duty, fee or tax and with a bare minimum of customs formalities.

The limit had been set at $200 for over twenty years but the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 was signed into law by President Obama last February.  The most comprehensive customs legislation in over twenty years, the Act sets a new limit at $800. Another example is the ‘positive’ list for 1,142 commodities permissible to be sold through cross border e-commerce in China which was released last month. The list partially or completely prohibits importation of infant formula milk, health foods, food for special medical benefits, fresh foods, and others. Or – always regarding the Chinese cross border e-commerce – the new duty rates for items sent directly through the postal system and through free trade zones have been in place since April 8th 2016.

What are your expectations for future digital trading?
The combination of technology and the services it enables is stimulating consumer activity as society spends more and more time online. Mobile devices have driven this change with sales of smartphones and tablets surpassing laptops and desktops in recent years. Activity on social media platforms reflect this transition to an “always-on” culture and for many brands mobile is the strategic growth channel amongst the range of channels they operate. If mobile devices have already changed the way consumers shop, wearable technology will reinforce the ability of consumers to buy anywhere and do so when and how it suits them. When the consumer is “always on” and the market consists of multiple touch points for display and others for sell-through, the market is literally everywhere. Brands will need to stand out and be destinations that consumers want to spend time with during and outside of the buying cycle. Without this they will be lost as more and more companies of all types compete for screen time with consumers. Brand owners will need to adopt the mentality of media companies, invest strategically in content and understand the best channels to distribute it, by optimising the mix of owned media, earned media and paid‐for media.

How can you optimise your website for an international audience?
I would start from planning an international domain strategy and decide whether to use a Top Level Domain or a country code Top Level Domain. There is an interesting article by MOZ that I always recommend my clients to read because it sheds light on some important technical elements that not all businesses are aware of – The Guide to International Website Expansion.

Keyword Analysis is vital. If you create one keyword list and assume it will serve your SEO purposes across all the countries you target, you definitely won’t be targeting your audience in those countries effectively. Different keywords may cater to different audiences depending on location, so you need to identify which keywords are most popular in each country you’re targeting, and optimize the pages on that country’s website accordingly. In addition, remember that even a correct and accurate translation of a keyword or term may not be what people actually use to search for a product or service locally.

Speaking of translations, they are also a key element if you target markets where English is not the first language spoken. Definitely stay away from machine translations. They often sound robotic, unnatural, and sometimes, completely nonsensical to anyone who speaks the language natively. Publishing poor quality content on your website can undermine your company’s credibility to an international audience. Get help instead from someone who is fluent in the language you’re creating content for, ideally someone who is not just a translator but also a copywriter, or someone with some technical knowledge who understands your products or services clearly.

Localise content to each market. Currency, contact details, sizes, measurements, visual elements (images and what’s pictured in them), characters accepted in contact forms, tone of voice (formal vs. informal), page layout (some languages take 25% more space than English), dates and times, payment and shipping options, customer service in the local language…this list could go on and on!

If you’re going to export successfully – whether it is through your website or not – you need to understand the language, traditions and ways of doing business in your new market. Then your website should reflect these. By making this a central part of your strategic approach to exporting, you can help to build your new customers’ trust and confidence in your company.

What are the benefits of being part of an international marketing network like Comvort?
Easy access to key information and contacts are definitely the top two advantages of being part of an international network like Comvort. If you are looking to export to the UK please get in touch with UK Trade and Investment as there are professional advisers in more than 100 countries.

Professional Guest post by OWB-UK. (Agency Comvort Member since 2009).

*On behalf the Comvort Group, many thanks OWB and UKTI for the time in giving our members and readers all these interesting tips.

Business books for 2016 – take your game to the next level

Thousands of business books are published every year. Many of them are a good read, but only some are really worth your while. Unfortunately, the daily entrepreneur is an extremely busy individual. Among all those employees and daily business responsibilities, finding time to read is nearly impossible. The key to success in today’s cut-throat business environment is all about motivation. There’s time for everything; all you need to do is stay organized. The following business books will offer you the drive you need to make a change and really take your company to new heights.

Lean Business Planning, by Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder of bplans.com and Palo Alto Software. He’s an outstanding entrepreneur and a guru of everything business related. In his book, Berry tries to make its readers understand that a business plan is NOT the key to success. It’s all about the planning itself and about the journey. Rather than focus all your attention on a single master plan for your start-up, consider a manageable plan that’s adaptable and easy to understand by your team.

Elon

Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance

This book about the mind of a pioneer named Elon Musk, the founder of the famous SpaceX, PayPal and Tesla Motors. The author lets readers enter his genius mind, get inspired from his innovative ideas, and find a way to take their businesses to the next level too. In Elon Musk you’ll read about what it really takes for someone to become rich, and how far is one willing to go to make a change and have an impact on the future.

Mindsharing, by Lior Zoref

Mindsharing is an interesting business book about collective intelligence. It explores the idea of brainstorming and teamwork, and it emphasizes on the importance of working with a crowd to yield positive results. Why rely solely on your abilities when you can put together more than one brilliant brain to attain great success in business? According to the author, there’s an astounding amount of power in mind sharing. It can help you progress on both a personal and professional level; that’s because you’re constantly learning new things.

Work Rules, by Laszlo Bock

Laszlo Bock is the head of People Operations at Google. In this book, readers are taught about the great importance of hiring the best people for your business. Work Rules relies on data and research on the matter, and it attempts to prove that open-space work environments and happy employees are the key to a better company culture. If you think your employees need some motivation, or that you need some advice on how to be a better leader for your people, then you should definitely make time to check it out.

Work Rules Comvort

The Digital Marketer, by Larry Weber

Is your business operating in the advertising and marketing domain? Are you running out of ideas when it comes to developing new campaigns and retaining new customers? Well then you’re in luck. The Digital Marketer is a great book for business. It reveals some amazing tips about marketing strategies, and it offers a clear perspective of today’s most effective trends. Stop focusing on your brand and start centering your attention more on your customers. Find a way to pique their attention and they’ll want to know more your business too.

Boss Life, by Paul Downs

There are thousands of books out there “teaching” people how to make millions. Entrepreneurship is more than just about making money, living a glamorous life and giving commands. In Boss Life readers will learn that running a business is tough; and that the only way to success is honesty. The secret to having an efficient company is directly linked to an owner’s employees. The closer you are to your people, the better chances you have to thrive. Show them that you’re humane and they won’t hesitate to commit to you and your company.

Comvort reading reccomendations

Some books are life-changing, particularly those in the business domain. That’s because the best ones can really motivate us. They can persuade us to do more for yourselves and for your companies without useless compromises or bossy attitudes. The more open minded you are, the better chances you have to be heard, supported and listened to. Teamwork makes companies thrive, and thriving companies make good money. It’s a win-win!

Professional Guest post by Comvort collaborator Jason Phillips (LoveReading.co.uk!)

How Corporate Gifts can be used to Promote Your Business

Corporate gift business

How Corporate Gifts can be used to Promote Your Business

Business gifts have been used for many years as a way to say “thank you” and either build new relationships or solidify existing relationships. Gifts are usually given to suppliers, customers and even to employees. Alongside their role in improving relationships they can also serve as an additional way of advertising your business. The following steps should be adhered to; this will maximize the promotional prospects of your gifts:

Understand the gift

Everyone loves to get something for nothing and business gifts are especially good as people will never know what is going to be offered. There is a huge array of choices; from pens to clothing or even furniture! Your decision as to what gift to provide must be based upon your budget and what will most appeal to your target customer.

Promotional gifts

A gift can include a discount in respect of a specific purchase on your website. It can even be a generalized discount. Customers will be thrilled to get the gift and will visit your site when they may not otherwise have done so. This can be an excellent ploy to increase sales without pushing your business.

Excitement

The business gift has become a common place item and it can be difficult to come up with a new idea which gets potential customers excited. It is worth spending some time thinking of a new idea or concept. The promotional value and interest which can be generated by a simple campaign for a quality gift will provide better returns than thousands of dollars worth of advertising.

Have a budget in mind

It is important to view money spent on promotional gifts as investment and not money thrown away. With this in mind you need to set a budget for promotional gifts across the year. You will then be able to get your gifts to suppliers and customers at all times of the year; don’t just wait for the big holidays. This is an excellent tool for keeping your company in their thoughts at all times.

corporte gift

Focus on promotional value

Never underestimate the value of giving away small gifts at exhibitions and invents. The amount of people that you will expose to your products is phenomenal. Every visitor who takes a gift will have several contacts who they share the gift or news of the gift with. There are also many people who visit exhibitions simply to collect the gifts. This may appear to be a waste of materials but every one of these can be an additional sale and will know others who will be introduced to your company name and brand.

Loyalty

It is essential to ensure that your loyal customers receive the free gift on offer, or, if possible, a better gift. This is simply good business sense. They will become aware of the promotional gifts you are offering and if you have not included them already they will consider what value you are placing on the relationship. This may be enough for them to take their business elsewhere! Always ensure they receive the gift first, they have a presence in your industry and word of mouth is a very powerful force. Their recommendation to others can increase your sales.

The gift

Finally, it is essential, and surprisingly often overlooked, to provide your business name and contact details on the gift. Without this the gift has a lot less value! Potential customers need to be able to contact you. It is always advisable to have the contact email or phone number fairly large with a one line caption that will ensure they know what you are selling. Your company name is actually slightly less important! Of course, if you have a recognized logo this can provide most of this information in one go!

corporte gift

Corporate gifts are good marketing. They’re ideal for companies that want to boost sales, grab attention and make people curious. If your goal is to promote your business, than using gifts is a smart advertising strategy. Conventional items such as mugs, pens, shirts, hats, and notebooks may seem boring; but they have the greatest impact. An employee who chooses to wear a t-shirt with your company logo imprinted will instantly make viewers want to know more; the more people wear that t-shirt the better chances you have to help your start-up thrive.

Professional guest post by John Smith (VeritasGifts.co.uk!)

Talk less and listen more – key to ace negotiations at your business deals

Negotiation is an art that very few people can understand. It’s a special skill that influences lives, so only the toughest will master it. Dealing with customers, investors and suppliers is easier said than done, especially in the business environment. The secret to winning negotiations is to “read” your opponent. Assess body language and become an active listener if you want to land the best deal. Negotiating with business partners demands fortitude, commitment and patience. Do you have what it takes to win? Here are some tips to help you ace negotiations when closing business deals.

Listen more

Shut up

Talk less during a business negotiation and you’ll have a lot to win. Too much chitchatting can backfire when you’re trying to close a good deal. The more you talk the better chances your opponent has to beat you with your own guns. It’s amazing how much useful information you can obtain from someone just by keeping quiet. Allow your opponent to start a conversation and don’t interrupt him; pay close attention to his allegations, and if you sense that he’s making unfounded questions, ask for clearance.

Be the one to do the talking

If on the other hand, you’d like to do the talking, make sure your words have meaning. Studies have shown that the brain goes into a trance when facing verbal barrage. During one-on-one negotiations, this can work beautifully. A lot of business negotiators are good at talking; but that’s it. Their speech doesn’t have meaning, and they often end up mentioning facts and figures that don’t exist or are irrelevant to the negotiation in questioning. Talking that is meant to fill in empty air is not good for business, so whatever comes out of your mouth has to be backed up by solid proof, each and every time.

Do your homework

One can’t ace business negotiations if the information held is not solid enough. Good negotiators will never enter a meeting unprepared. It’s important to have the data in order to feel in control. Solid information gives you bargaining power, and the more you know the higher chances you have to persuade opponents to compromise. However, try not to confuse compromise with manipulation, do whatever you can to reach common ground. Mutual agreements foster relationships and solid relationships with trustworthy business partners can help your business attain worldwide recognition.

Use open-ended questions

Open-ended questions makes opponents believe that you’re willing to listen and learn. Avoid questions that begin with a verb, such as “Is this ok?” or “Is the offer on the table good enough?” and go for questions like “How do I make this better?” or “Are there any changes required in the current offer?” This way you leave room for improvement. Your opponent will notice that you’re willing to learn and further negotiations are in order, too.

Avoid lies at all costs

Nothing good can come out from telling lies when negotiating a business deal. If you don’t know what you say, talk less and allow your opponent to take the lead; but under no circumstances distort the truth because sooner or later someone will notice you just told a lie. Stay focused on facts and if there’s something you don’t like, say it out loud. Negotiating is directly linked to collaborating, so you shouldn’t be ashamed of the things you know nothing about.

body language

Pay attention to body language

Some people talk with their body language, and in business this can either help them, or destroy them. Nervousness and anxiety lead to an erratic behavior, while calmness and composure make you look professional and experienced. Assess your opponent’s behavior by allowing him talk first. This will give you an idea about his personality, as well as his general opinion about the business deal on the table.

There’s no exact recipe to winning negotiations. However, there are ways of turning a business meeting to your advantage. Enter negotiations prepared with information, talk less and listen more. Engage in a conversation and maintain a professional attitude; let opponents sense your business spirit but don’t raise your voice to exude power. Build a connection by looking for things you’ve got in common. It’s ok to let your guard down and relate to business partners, as long as you don’t forget the scope of the deal.

Professional Post By Jason Phillips and TheGapPartnership.com!

Emotions – how to use them perfectly at negotiations

Emotions and empathy play a vital role in negotiations, whether in business or in politics. Emotional awareness can steer prejudices and it can also give self-control. Sometimes, classic negotiation skills fail, and to demonstrate poise and control, one must use inner emotions to land a good deal. Experts argue that emotions have no place in negotiations because they make people seem weak. However, it is possible to control emotions and use them to your advantage. Many people fear negotiations, and rather than finding a way to deal with their inner feelings, they clank up. Here are some excellent guidelines to help you put emotions to good use in a negotiation.

Nervousness – a feeling that can be controlled

Believe it or not, nervousness is a feeling that can be controlled in a negotiation. Make your anxiety become curiosity by attentively listening to your opponents. Pay attention to everything they say, as body language, words, and variations in their vocal tone can help you make an opinion. An observant negotiator is able to spot opportunities for mutual agreements, so it’s certainly a good idea to ward off your concerns and focus on the facts. According to some experts, when you’re deeply attentive, the mind “forgets” about feelings such as nervousness and concern. For a negotiator to attain emotional balance, he must ward off all his fears by focusing on the speech or presentation of his opponent.

Take a break

Experienced negotiators know how to cool off when things heat up in a negotiation. Taking a break is one of the most effective ways of dealing with your emotions. There are times when deals don’t go as planned, and although you are not nervous in the beginning, you may start developing some feelings of angst as things move forward. Skilled business people have the capacity and the expertise to intimidate an opponent. They can throw your confidence out the window in a matter of seconds. In this scenario, it’s best to ask for a recess. A short break will help you calm down; your team should be there for moral support, too.

Emotions

Anger can be an asset

Provided that you use anger strategically, it can become your strongest weapon. Some people are more productive when they’re angry; they have better ideas and they’re not afraid of dealing with unpredictable circumstances. In some scenarios, anger can be used as an indicative of your toughness. An attitude that’s hard-hitting may intimidate an opponent, and therefore your persuasion abilities will be greatly improved. As much as we want to believe that anger can be an asset in negotiations, it is important to know your limits. We’re talking about a feeling that can scare business partners and associates when it becomes too extreme.

Anxiety – the perfect recipe for success in business

Anxious people usually end up losing negotiations. Why? Because it’s simple for an opponent to sense that you’re afraid. Fear leads to a wealth of other unpleasant feelings, and in the end you may agree to a bargain that can’t possibly benefit your company. Don’t let your nerves get the best of your when negotiating, and use your anxiety to reap great benefits. Generally speaking, important decisions entail increased levels of hesitation, and trying to come up with a mutual agreement may lead to apprehension. Be lucid and don’t let emotions interfere with your logical way of thinking. The best way to make your anxiety help you win negotiations is to forget it exists.

While anxiety, anger, and nervousness are perfectly understandable emotions people feel in a negotiation, we can’t say the same thing about fear. Ironically, fear is more common than the other three, and it usually has dreadful effects on your self-esteem. Do you usually feel your heart pounding at the mere thought of bargaining with someone? You may be afraid of negotiations, and this unpleasant emotion won’t help you build connections and close good deals. If you can’t control your emotions when dealing with employees, investors, and customers, you might need some negotiation training; the best way to control emotions is to block them out of your system. Fear is a useless emotion in business. There’s absolutely no reason for you to be afraid of your opponent. Rather than let fear affect your judgment, focus on the facts and be rational.

By Jason Phillips and TheGapPartnership.com!