Things that are useful to know when entering internationalmarkets --
Let's assume you are a small American company with plans toenter 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 haveto approach your clients, make them feel comfortable. How should you do that?
First, research if your product is allowed or wanted in theEuropean 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 overseascountries 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 fitgreat 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 useof other languages on the Internet. Some estimate this number to be rising sharply in the next years to come.
One more tip for all American companies: if you do not ship toother 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 comparedto a big corporation!
To do it right, let the site get translated for you -- it isvery 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 andfinancial 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.
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 othertrademarks, 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 mightremember 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 Internetand 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 differentrules 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.