How we broke into the overseas market

Overview:

Having spent nearly 12 years in the plastics industry supplying colourant and additive mixes I was becoming frustrated with the lack of innovation. I could see high value products were desired, but no one could meet this demand.

Addmaster was set up to reverse the market dynamics, and by choosing suitable toll manufacturers for each job, we were able to sell our products at cost effective prices. We became successful in the UK, but we wanted to take our products further, into the overseas market.

The Challenge:

Our challenge was how to adapt the UK success to a wider audience. We had already secured business in other countries but that was due to their perseverance in finding us. It was common for clients to say, "I'm so pleased I found you, I've really been struggling to source XYZ", so we knew the business model could be expanded.

We also wanted our Biomaster silver antimicrobial product to reach the wider market, because it had been so successful in the UK: being featured on the BBC news as a major breakthrough.

Our main challenge was how to make the right contacts in various countries, and then to convince them that our product was something they needed.

The Solution:

Our plan was to target the distributors we wanted, who were well-known in their own market and understood the value of new innovative products. Our sales director, David Wells, used contacts he had accumulated over 20 years, allowing us to find trustworthy, successful businesses. David was also fluent in five languages, which undoubtedly aided our success in the overseas market.

We also promoted the fact that our products were made by the very best manufacturers in the UK, because a 'Made in Britain' tag still carries kudos.

Key Lesson:

Firstly, you must have a USP to enter a market. For a lot of people this is price, but that only increases local competition and provides no return for investment.

You also need to understand why people buy your product, and communicate this to potential customers. Communication skills are key, and we found having an English, Spanish and Portuguese website in South America very helpful.

Be proud of your products and confident in their ability. To deal with customers farther away you need to communicate louder that you are people to deal with, as its human nature to feel local is best

Never try and set up a distributor without visiting the country yourself: you need to get a feel for the market and its subtle differences to the country you live in.

Top Tip:

Make sure your staff have the skills to take your country abroad. Having David speak his languages gives customers the reassurance that you care about their country and needs.

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