Idealog - - ON THE COVER -

I’m Tony Small, the founder of In­no­cent Pack­ag­ing – a dis­pos­able food pack­ag­ing made from plants and plant waste – and a tree-free launched, we’ve had suc­cess in the New Zealand mar­ket with hav­ing a unique prod­uct but when we take this idea over­seas, that opens us up to should we change about our ap­proach when - Tony Dear Tony, Your ba­sic premise is cor­rect – tak­ing a prod­uct to an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket is a big step up from tak­ing it to mar­ket in New Zealand. This is for a num­ber of rea­sons, all of which then lead to some clues about how to ad­just when you take the step.

Firstly, at the risk of stat­ing the ob­vi­ous, New Zealand is a small mar­ket. That means it’s rel­a­tively well-con­nected – the ‘dis­tance’ be­tween you as a man­u­fac­turer of a prod­uct and the end con­sumers of your prod­uct is prob­a­bly pretty small. You prob­a­bly sell di­rect to a re­tailer, who sells di­rect to a cus­tomer. Over­seas mar­kets might need you to work with a dis­trib­u­tor, or a sub-dis­trib­u­tor, or per­haps have an agent work­ing for you. You might need to deal with reg­u­la­tors or qual­ity as­sur­ance, or other gov­ern­ment agen­cies in your tar­get mar­ket. You may need to deal with lo­gis­tics, freight for­warders and cus­toms agents to get your prod­uct into the mar­ket. Es­sen­tially, with the in­creased mar­ket size, there of­ten comes and in­creased level of com­plex­ity to con­tend with. What this means is that you are likely to need help and ad­vice from peo­ple or com­pa­nies who have done this be­fore and can nav­i­gate you through new chal­lenges. This might also mean ex­tra costs or de­lays to be fac­tored in.

Sim­i­larly, you are likely to en­counter more com­pe­ti­tion. Many com­pa­nies think they have a ‘unique prod­uct’, and that may be true here in New Zealand, but get over­seas and sud­denly there are lot more com­pa­nies play­ing in your space. The chances are much higher that there are other com­pa­nies with sim­i­lar prod­ucts com­pet­ing for the same cus­tomers. So you may need to high­light your unique­ness more overtly and clearly, and in the tar­get cus­tomer’s terms. This might mean a re-think of your mar­ket­ing strat­egy, your brand po­si­tion­ing, your key mes­sages.

If you truly think yoyou have a unique and valu­able point of dif­fer­ence be­ing from New Zealand, then I’d en­cour­age you to lever­age the work of the New Zealand Story. I’ve men­tioned it be­fore in these col­umns – this is an ini­tia­tive be­tween gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try to cre­ate a unique ‘story’ for New Zealand on the world stage, so that New Zealand com­pa­nies can get the ben­e­fit of a larger body of work. The NZ Story team have done anal­y­sis of the sen­ti­ments of con­sumers in var­i­ous mar­kets around the world, and they know what mes­sages work for dif­fer­ent au­di­ences. They then have con­tent you can use to add to your mar­ket­ing mes­sages to re­in­force those mes­sages, al­low­ing you to ap­pear big­ger than you might be. This is all avail­able for free at nzs­tory.govt.nz.

One other fac­tor you are go­ing to con­sider is staffing and re­sourc­ing. The num­ber one rea­son Kiwi com­pa­nies fail when head­ing over­seas is that they don’t get the peo­ple part of it right. They might try to man­age it all re­motely, or only have a fly in/fly out model, in­stead of ac­tual feet on the ground. They many hire poorly or not put the pro­cesses and struc­tures in to en­sure re­mote work­ers are suc­cess­ful. I met a com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive in South Amer­ica once whose or­gan­i­sa­tion only gave him busi­ness cards in English, not in Span­ish and Por­tuguese – the lan­guages of the mar­kets he was serv­ing. If you can’t af­ford busi­ness cards – or more im­por­tantly, if you can’t pay mar­ket rates for sales peo­ple – then don’t bother. Try­ing to do it on the cheap in­evitably leads to fail­ure, and of­ten it’s the worst kind: the long, slow fail­ure that ap­pears like suc­cess for a while but just burns cash and time. You know the sort, ‘The cus­tomer is go­ing to buy next month; they seem re­ally keen’ only they never do and be­fore you know it, six months have gone by.

There are lots of lessons learned from other busi­nesses, so my fi­nal and prob­a­bly most im­por­tant piece of feed­back is to seek oth­ers’ ad­vice. Learn from oth­ers’ suc­cesses, and fail­ures. Get our team and NZTE to work hard for you, and get your­self some good com­pany ad­vi­sors to help guide your jour­ney.

I hope all this hasn’t put you off – there are many New Zealand com­pa­nies who have made the jump to be an in­ter­na­tional com­pany and are do­ing it re­ally well. I hope the same for you. - David No.8 Recharged. By day (and the oc­ca­sional night) David Downs is gen­eral man­ager, projects, at NZTE. Last year, while bat­tling cancer, he re­leased a book with Dr Michelle Dick­in­son on New Zealand tech­nol­ogy called

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