Preparing an export marketing strategy for your firm
8: Preparing your export plan > Preparing an
export marketing strategy for your firm
With a summary of the research undertaken in step 7 and your export SWOT analysis (discussed in the previous section) in hand, and your export objectives clearly outlined, you can now move on to prepare an export marketing strategy.
The export marketing strategy describes how you will meet
the needs of the foreign customer. More specifically, the
export marketing strategy must indicate how you will adapt
your product to meet the needs of the foreign customer,
at what price you will attempt to sell the product, how
you will inform the customer of your product and encourage
them to buy your products, and, finally, how you will get
your product to the customer. The marketing information obtained
from your export research efforts will be used to
draw up your export marketing strategy.
We have mentioned marketing a few times already in the above introduction as well as in several other sections leading up to step 8. At this point, it is appropriate just to briefly define marketing.
The American Marketing Association defines
|"…the process of
planning and executing the conception, pricing, marketing
communication and distribution of ideas, products
and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual
and organisational goals."
From this definition can be distilled a number
of key elements. The first is the question of exchange.
Exchanges occur when at least two parties that each have
something of value, and who wish to transact with the other
person, communicate with each other and then either accept
or reject the other's offer.
The second is the issue of satisfying customer
needs and organisational goals. The focus of any marketer
is the customer; indeed, marketing can be said to be customer-centric.
To begin with, the marketer must identify who the customer
is and what their needs are (this you will already hopefully have
done in the export research section). This information
is vital in shaping your future export marketing efforts.
The information so far gathered will suggest what changes
you need to incorporate into your product, what price you
can pitch your product at, how best to inform the marketplace
of your product, its attributes and where they can purchase
it, and, finally, how best to get the product to the customer.
In addition to having a customer focus, it
is important to realise that the companies do not go into
business or export for no good reason. All organisations
- whether profit-making firms or non-profit organisations
- have certain goals. These goals may be to generate a
return on investment for the firm's shareholders or to
delivery certain services to their target audience. As
we are mainly dealing with private sector companies, the
profit motive is the main organisational goal.
The process of planning and executing the
activities that we have outlined above, suggests that the
firm must bring together all of its resources (financial,
equipment, labour and management skills) to achieve customer
satisfaction and organisational goals. A total systems
approach by the firm to its activities is therefore another key element of this definition.
The marketing concept
These three elements (i.e. customer focus,
goal/profit orientation and total systems approach) combine
to underpin the marketing concept, which says that in order
to be marketing orientated, firms must take a systematic
approach in their business activities, bringing to bear
all of the resources of the firm in order to achieve customer
satisfaction, while at the same time achieving company
The marketing mix
Finally, the AMA definition identifies
four main activities which we have already mentioned in
the above discussion (commonly referred to as the "4Ps"
of marketing) and which the firm must focus its attention
on in order to achieve its marketing objectives. These
- Planning and developing/adapting products (and their
packaging), and services according to customer requirements
- Establishing prices that offer value to customers and
a profit to the supplier
- Promoting products and services through personal selling,
advertising, direct mail, the internet, etc.
- Distributing (also referred to as "place",
hence the 4Ps) the products and services from the supplier
to the ultimate customer through appropriate distribution
These four activities constitute the traditional
marketing mix and represent those aspects of marketing over
which you, the marketer, have control.
The marketing environments
Leading on from the above statement, the
variables comprising the marketing mix are sometimes referred
to as controllable factors and represent the micro environment
of the firm. They are referred to as controllable varibales because the firm has control over them and can (relatively easily) change them as may be thought appropriate. The marketing manager, however, must also
take into account uncontrollable factors such as the market
and macro environments within which the firm must operate.
In the domestic market, the market environment includes
shareholders, customers, suppliers and the other business
partners of the firm, while in the foreign marketplace,
the market environment includes the import intermediaries,
customers and other organisations that the exporter must
deal with in his/her export endeavours. The macro environment,
on the other hand, includes the legal-, politic-, socio-cultural-,
technological-, and economic-environments that firms around
the world have to deal with on a daily basis. These environments we dealt with in step 1 of the export process - we link to them again here, should you wish to refresh yopur memory. The market
and macro environments are also commonly referred to as
the external environment, while the micro environment is
known as the internal environment.
In both the case of the market and macro
environments, the marketer has very little or even no control
whatsoever. The marketer, for example, cannot change the
cultural, legal or political environments within which
they operate. Similarly, although they may be able to influence
their suppliers or customers, they do not actual have full
control over them; for this reason the variables in the
market and macro environments are known as uncontrollable
A company which is able to co-ordinate its
entire business system including its finances, its machinery
and equipment, its human resources, its competitive processes,
its management expertise, and its marketing mix to focus
on the satisfaction of customer needs profitably within
a dynamic external environment is usually assured of success
(quite a tall order, mind you). Against the background
of the company's overall business and marketing objectives,
the challenge of the marketing manager is to use tools
such as market research to mould the controllable elements
of marketing (i.e. product, price, promotion and distribution)
within the framework of the uncontrollable elements of
the market place.
One mistake often made by some individuals
is to confuse marketing with advertising or promotion or
even selling. While marketing incorporates all of these
things, it involves much more. Marketing drives the firm's
activities; from the research that is required to understand
the firm's potential customers, to sourcing and procuring
the materials needed to manufacture the products that customers
need at a price they can afford, to promoting and selling
these products to customers, to ensuring that the products
are delivered to the customers where they need them, and,
finally, to ensuring that customers are satisfied with
the firm's efforts. Of course, the more foreign markets
you attempt to target the more difficult and expensive
your export marketing endeavours will become - it is therefore
advisable to select a particular market at first and then
once you have succeeded in this market, you can then extend
your marketing endeavours to other markets.
Moving on to your export market strategy
The above discussion hopefully provides you with a broad overview of what marketing entails. Clearly, there is much more to marketing than this, but that is not part of the scope of this website. What we now need to do is to prepare an export marketing strategy. This strategy, we have already said. will outline how your firm intends to adapt the countrollable variables (the product, its price, promotion and distribution) to best meet the needs of the foreugn customer.
The export marketing strategy provides a fairly broad discussion of these four elements, with perhaps no more than a page or two being devoted to each of the four elements. In the coming sections we will discuss each element in more detail highlighting some of the issues that need to be considered when preparing your strategy in respect of each element.