Susan Whitney is Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Cleveland, Ohio.This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy
If you often have the feeling that you or your company is figuring out exporting entirely on your own, I’m going to let you in on a little-known fact: a collection of partners are waiting to help your business succeed overseas. You just have to find them.
In Northeast Ohio, we have gathered this group of peers, experts, and service providers together in a nine-month export training program called GlobalTarget. The program is for companies between $2 million and $50 million in sales who are poised to take the next step of growing their business internationally.
GlobalTarget is different from most other export training programs because of how it capitalizes on each partner’s strength so they can delivery value to the participant. The program unleashes a network of the region’s best and most experienced international business professionals so each GlobalTarget participant can grow overseas – that’s what makes partnerships so powerful.
Over ten years ago, I helped form Global Target around the idea that one company, stakeholder group, or service provider doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to international growth. Therefore, GlobalTarget strives to focus these partners toward a singular goal: help Northeast Ohio companies grow in international markets.
Here’s a look at how the partners come together to make GlobalTarget a success:
- Federal (U.S. Commercial Service) – By offering participants export counseling and their Gold Key matchmaking service, GlobalTarget companies can connect to a worldwide network of trade professionals in over 70 countries. The Gold Key matchmaking service allows the participants to implement what they have learned and to turn training into sales.
- State (Ohio Development Services Agency) – By offering export counseling and grant funds to help cover a participating company’s cost, more firms are able to participate in GlobalTarget.
- Academia (Cleveland State University) – Through presentations from industry experts and faculty, participants learn the ins and outs of exporting from every angle. Cleveland State students also research international markets and create a report for each participant.
- Private sector (FedEx) – By covering the cost of several international offerings from the U.S. Commercial Service, GlobalTarget participants are able to customize the program’s services to fit their needs.
- Ohio’s exporting community – By matching up each GlobalTarget participant with an experienced exporter, each company learns from their mentor’s experience to shorten their learning curve.
One alumnus of GlobalTarget said the most valuable part of the program is being matched up with an “exporting mentor”. Mentors are another Ohio company with deep experience taking their business global. Here’s what Jeff Sponseller, VP of Sales for Miller Weldmaster, said about their mentorship experience:
“When you to go through the day to day of figuring out exporting on your own, at times you catch yourself saying ‘this is a lot harder than it should be’. Through GlobalTarget, we realized exporters around the region have many of the same questions – regardless of their industry.
“We got to ask other exporters ‘How to you do handle this or that situation?’, which positioned our company to benefit from our mentor’s experience.”
The mentorship aspect of the GlobalTarget adds value for two reasons. First, mentoring builds a sense of community among the region’s exporters – it allows for positive experiences like Miller Weldmaster’s. Second, engaging experienced exporters as mentors builds on the central idea of what makes GlobalTarget so successful – capitalizing on each partner’s strength to deliver maximum value to Ohio companies.
Finally, what happens to companies that go through GlobalTarget? What are the results?
On average, over 70 percent of GlobalTarget alumni that have used the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service have success in a foreign market within their first year of completing the program. In the case of Miller Weldmaster, they expanded into several new markets through the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service including Chile, Russia, and Korea, with plans to use the Gold Key Matchmaking service in other countries in the coming months.
If you are a Northeast Ohio company weighing whether you should join this year’s GlobalTarget group, the proof of the program’s success is in the partnerships. GlobalTarget utilizes the unique strengths of our area’s exporting experts who have a vested interest in your success.
Visit the GlobalTarget website to learn more about the program.