This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.
Ed. note: This post is part of a series highlighting the upcomingHannover Messe Trade Show April 25—29, 2016. This series will highlight U.S. exhibitors that will participate in the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology.
Guest blog post by Justin Seibert, President of Direct Online Marketing
This is your first time at Hannover Messe. What factors influenced your decision to participate this year?
Direct Online Marketing has been fortunate to help clients across a wide range of industries export to hundreds of countries. This success has lead us to focus on helping businesses worldwide reach their exporting goals through search engine and other forms of digital marketing.
We became aware of the opportunity to participate in the Hannover Messe trade fair through our valuable relationships with the United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) and the West Virginia Development Office. Given the size and prestige of Hannover Messe – along with the United States being 2016’s partner country – we felt this opportunity was too good to pass up. We’re looking forward to meeting with and learning from other globally connected businesses who export into and from North America.
Why is the Industrial Automation pavilion a natural home for you?
We have worked with clients in this business sector. Additionally, we are proud to be showcased with other companies from our region in this pavilion.
What do you hope to accomplish at Hannover Messe?
We look forward to connecting with both fellow North American exporters and global businesses to learn about their exporting goals and successes. It’s a great opportunity to learn best practices to help us and our clients. Plus we appreciate the exposure we gain to new businesses we may be able to help. We love helping businesses reach new clients, especially in countries where they’ve never sold before.
When and how did your company begin exporting? What countries do you have experience exporting to?
Direct Online Marketing began exporting in 2008 kind of accidentally. Businesses just started finding us online and we were able to help them. Our first foreign client came from Australia. Since then we’ve sold into other countries, including Costa Rica, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
Along the same line, we started helping our US-based clients sell overseas, now to more than 100 countries worldwide. Our exporting clients come from industries ranging from luxury watches to higher education. One client – Wheeling Truck Center (http://www.class8truckparts.com/) – went from 0 exports to winning the President’s “E” Award in under five years.
Once we saw the success our clients were having, we started exploring exporting more seriously. We started by attending a United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) trade mission to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Since then we have attended Trade Winds, done Gold Key Services, and coordinated our own personalized country missions through USFCS. All these services have helped us expand our sales into new territories.
What impact has exporting had on your company? What advice do you have for other American companies looking to start exporting?
#1 on the list is making yourself aware of all the great resources available. Start with the United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS). Just go to http://export.gov/eac/index.asp and search for your local office. Your rep will be a tremendous asset and can inform you of other free and low cost resources like the Small Business Association, your state development agency, the Export-Import Bank, and your District Export Council, which you can find here: http://districtexportcouncil.org/local-dec-locator.
The next thing we would recommend is looking at how much interest there is in your products or services in various country targets. Google is a great place to start for this. The great thing about search engines is that you know the searcher’s intent. You can reach them when they’re most interested – when they’re looking for more information about what you sell. You don’t need to sell products online either. This can be a great tool for service providers. To start, sign up for a free Google AdWords account. You’ll need to put in a credit card, but you never need to spend any money with them. That provides you access to their Keyword Planner. Here you can enter keyword phrases or just your website to find out how often people are searching for what you’re selling in various countries and regions. Use translated materials to find results in local languages.
If there’s decent search volume, you can take a next step of sharing these results with your local USFCS to get a country assessment or to run a small test campaign to reach new prospects.