Business development · 6 July 2018

How Flow navigated cultural differences and language barriers for exporting success

The Flow team
More UK micro businesses are exporting than ever before. However, finding customers in new overseas markets remains the greatest barrier to exporting.

To help entrepreneurs reach new markets, Business Advice wants to hear the success stories of Britain’s small exporters and leverage that expertise.

We caught up with the business development manager at a digital agency to find out what his company has learned from its exporting experiences.

Name: Chris Ogle

Business: Flow Digital

Sector: Digital marketing services

Number of employees: 8

Export markets: Benalux, France, Israel, US, Malaysia

Describe your business model

Manage elements of clients digital marketing requirements for a daily rate. Specifically relating to exporting, we have had success in two main areas. First is marketing a British product in an overseas territory via a local distributor.

So if you are looking to promote a British product in Malaysia, British marketing strategy is valued to bring a different viewpoint than a local agency. We have also had great success for creating copy, for non-UK websites, to be read by a British audience for SEO purposes.

Why do you export and what’s the impact on your business?

If we are being completely honest, exporting found us rather than us looking to expand our reach overseas.

The main thing that has really helped grow our work in overseas territories is that international companies who want to catch a tone of voice for a specific territory, working directly with people within that territory is very appealing. Although not part of our initial strategy, it now makes up a significant percentage of our overall work. In retrospect, we wish we had considered it a lot sooner.

What is the most difficult part of selling internationally?

The sales process is significantly different to one of our typical process with a locally based client. Being English, as a rule we are typically understated and much is implied between the lines which we just assume to be understood by the other party.

Our client in Benelux, for example, is much more direct and to the point than we would expect a UK based prospect to be. There’s no issue with this, it’s just worth bearing in mind cultural difference of the nation you will be dealing with.

As much as we would like to meet every prospect in person, in reality based on the size of the job, and likelihood of conversion, that is not always feasible.





Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.