Things that are useful to know when entering international

markets

--

Let's assume you are a small American company with plans to

enter other markets, because you are aware of the possibilities

that exist in those relatively new markets compared to United

States.

Like in all other issues with potential clients, you have

to approach your clients, make them feel comfortable.

How should you do that?

First, research if your product is allowed or wanted in the

European market (we use this one as a broad example). For

example if you are selling weapons or medicals over the

Internet, you should be well familiar with the law situation

in the country you would like to target. Those rather extreme

examples are not the norm. But a little legal and market

research always helps later if done properly.

One thing can be made a general rule -- most overseas

countries pay much more for

their online time (provider costs AND phone costs), so

keep that in mind for general planning.

This means design for low bandwidth clients, do not use

spectacular tricks that are more annoying than useful for

someone who pays to wait for his screen to load.

It can be essential for someone who

is interested in your product.

Now that you have found out your product would fit

great in the target market, you should take other measures.

To make your visitors comfortable, use their language.

While it is true that English is the lingua franca

of the Internet, there is already a trend in the use

of other languages on the Internet. Some estimate this

number to be rising sharply in the next years to come.

Translation

First, be sure you translate all that is important to

the client, for example terms of use and agreement.

How would you react if you ordered something

from Taiwan in English, and when you wanted to find out more

about the company and their shipment order, to be taken to

an untranslated Taiwanese page? You would be out in a second --

if they do not care about you to understand all in your language,

then you are gone. The same applies to your

international customers. The rise of the Internet in all parts

of life also leads to more people on the Internet who cannot

speak English, or did not learn it very well at school.

One more tip for all American companies: if you do not ship to

other countries, or only with restrictions, please state so

frankly and visibly or easily accessible on all pages, or at

least the homepage. You cannot imagine the anger and frustration

(and therefore bad reputation of your company) if an international

client fills out orders, only to find out after

half an hour online time and costs that your company does not

care about non-American visitors.

But this is the big chance for your small company compared

to a big corporation!

To do it right, let the site get translated for you -- it is

very frustrating trying to read a page translated from an

automatic program. Better leave it untranslated before you

do it automatically, the results are more hilarious than

informative about you and your company (and of course I assume

you do not want to make a negative impression).

After you have your site or the relevant content translated,

it is very important to let someone check it who has this

language as natural background and also comes from the same

cultural background as the market you are trying to enter.

You avoid misspellings, embarrassing cultural differences

if not taken care of, and most important, your content gets a

natural cultural "feeling" -- spellings

or phrases that are totally unnatural

to the native customer are not in the text then.

Now the next step. Even if you cannot for time and

financial reasons take the steps mentioned above now or

in the very near future, read on, there are things you can

do now with minimal effort with the future in the mind.

Domain registrations

You may already have a .com or other Top domain.

We all know how fast domain names are being taken,

maybe you experienced that problem yourself by not getting

the domain name you were looking for. German (.de) domains

recently sold their first million.

So to preserve rights, product names, and other

trademarks, try to get your name in the market you are

interested in now, before you face later possible legal

fights and bad reputation among the web community. The best

to preserve your rights is to register those domain names

before you have trouble with your competition doing the

registration instead of you. Domain names are gold in the

new economy. Be sure to save your place on the Internet frontier.

For those of you longer on the Internet, you might

remember the times when domain names were strictly given

only to the ones that they belong to, according to

some domain rules and guidelines.

Since that time we have seen a massive change on the Internet

and also in domain policies. Not only have lots of new

registrars come into the game, but also some new top level domains

have been added, and many loosened their policies in order

to fulfill the new needs.

It is interesting to note that there are many different

rules out there. Some restrict their services only to local

proven companies or departments while others sell to anyone

willing to pay the cash for it. We have been looking at the

European market first, but I recommend you also look for

available domain names from other countries, .cc for Coco Island

for example, or others with a nice ending.

Good luck!