The birth of Prince Louis has thrust Britain back into the limelight, and with the Royal wedding coming up, now is a great time to start exporting if you’re a British business wanting to wear your nationality loud and proud, writes Jake Trask, currency expert at international payments company OFX.
The current media frenzy is a fantastic barometer for Britain’s popularity as an international brand. Combined with a weaker pound, which has made British goods more affordable for overseas buyers, “Brand Britain” is playing a huge role in making British products attractive to foreign markets.
Here are four things to consider when it comes to selling Brand Britain abroad:
Carefully choose your first export market
The first thing to do is pick a market that’s right for your business. Starting with one country at first will allow you to have immediate impact without overstretching yourself. It goes without saying that you need to walk before you can run – and as each market can be wildly different, focusing on rolling out one-by-one will give you the time and space to prepare a strong export strategy and get it right first time.
To work out which market is best for you, consider which countries have the highest demand for British products, which have the strongest consumer markets, and which require the least adaptation for an easy launch.
Markets like the US and Australia are a natural first choice for many British brands. In fact, in a recent OFX survey of small British businesses, a whopping 63 per cent of companies listed the US as the most attractive market to start exporting to following the Brexit vote. Here, there’s no language barrier to speak of, and it can be relatively simple to adjust your marketing strategy and product descriptions to get off the ground quickly.
That said, less familiar markets – such as Japan and China – can be a great option for fast-growing UK companies looking to trade on their Britishness. These markets are highly receptive to Brand Britain, with established brands like Clarks and Lush Cosmetics flying off the shelves alongside more obvious examples like Burberry, Barbour and Hunter.
Emerging markets, such as Brazil and India, also provide a wealth of opportunity so long as you are willing to do your research.
Big up your Britishness
Once you’ve decided on the market you want to start exporting to, the next step is to define what makes your company British. Where are your products made, and would it be worth drawing attention to your Scottish heritage, for instance? Do you have a Royal Warrant, and is that something you could use in your international marketing as an authentic “seal of approval”? What British traditions does your brand embody?
Understanding your target market is important, as Britishness means something different to each country you export to. Are your target consumers more interested in British heritage and tradition, or are they more receptive to the trendsetting, edgy spirit that was Britain’s greatest export in the 60s and 90s?
After you’ve decided on your British angle, roll it out across your marketing and publicity. Attaching the “Made in Britain” marque to your products is one of the easiest places to start, although you’ll need to apply for the right to use it first. At the same time, infusing your branding with your Britishness will help you gain a clear sense of identity that stands out overseas.
Protect your margins
Another key consideration when choosing your target market is currency. Not only is currency important as a barometer for the economic health of your target market, but it will also inform your pricing strategy. Do you want to price your products in sterling, or receive payments in the local currency, to transfer back to sterling at a later date?
The Brexit referendum might have raised myriad questions about Britain’s national identity, but for exporters, it created a real opportunity as the pound weakened and British products became more affordable for international buyers.
To stay on top with your international payments, partner with a currency specialist. The best ones will enable you to keep track of your transfers with the latest technology, and lock in exchange rates for up to twelve months. Look out for round-the-clock service, so you can check in with a trusted advisor whenever you need to.
Go forth and multiply
As the Royal family expands, so will your international strategy. The hype around the birth of Prince Louis and the upcoming Royal wedding provides a unique opportunity to enter new markets, and once you’ve mastered one, you’ll soon be ready to broaden your export strategy.
As your global sales grow, the support of expert partners will become ever more valuable. From local delivery services to translators, lawyers and accountants, you’ll find it much easier to focus on the big picture with specialists in place to sweat the small stuff.
As you expand, you’ll have ever more revenue streams and customers to keep track of, so you’ll want to stay nimble and be able to change tack relatively quickly. Selling via marketplaces like Amazon can be a smart way to grow international sales quickly with reduced overheads, whilst retaining the ability to switch your focus if needed.
Do pay attention to payments when navigating the ecommerce ecosystem. International marketplaces often charge a premium for international payments, so it’s worth plugging into alternative solutions that provide better exchange rates and allow you to withdraw funds when it suits you.
Virtual currency accounts, which allow you to hold multiple currencies in one place, are a particularly valuable tool for online sellers. These allow you to pay overseas suppliers directly from your international revenues, saving you the need to transfer to and from sterling and lose money on the way.
In this rapidly changing world, flexibility is key, especially if you want to expand your exports quickly. But tweaking your strategy to each individual market isn’t hard – particularly if you’ve got expertise on your side. With the proper preparation, it won’t be long before you’ve got a flush hand of markets bringing in a solid revenue stream.
Jake Trask is currency expert at OFX, an international payments company
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