Q: What is an export plan?
A: An export plan is your proactive guideline for the development of your international business. A good export plan is critical in selecting which markets will be targeted and in which order. Keep it simple, but make sure everyone in the company involved in achieving export results is aware of the plan and has a sense of engagement with it. An export plan should include the following:
- identification of markets, goals, and activities;
- proposed ways of achieving objectives;
- required resources; and
- expected results.
Having an export plan helps you focus your company’s resources on manageable, measurable goals. An export strategy must be integrated with your company’s overall business plan. Align export activities with daily operations to avoid any conflicts between your domestic and international activities.
Q: Why plan when global markets are changing so rapidly?
A: The world is full of many different markets, all with unique characteristics. It is true that predicting what will happen to multiple markets around the world next year, or sometimes even next month, can be daunting for even very large companies. It is very rare that a small or midsize company can target all markets equally at one time. An export plan is not meant to be set in stone, but can and most likely will evolve over time. Going through the planning process can help any firm evaluate different potential outcomes and have alternative strategies prepared.
Q: How do I develop an export plan?
A: Your export plan will address your company’s unique exporting challenges and opportunities. Key to developing your export plan is to identify your firm’s unique selling proposition, how it fits with customer needs around the world and how your firm compares to existing competition. Developing a sound export strategy helps you define your export goals and match your resources to those goals. Focusing your resources enables you to provide quality responses and service to your new export customers. Conducting market research will be key. Decide on how you’ll enter your international markets, operate day-to-day and finance your exporting. Establish goals and timelines for achieving those goals.
Q: What export planning resources are available to Wisconsin businesses?
A: Numerous resources are available, through WEDC and other organizations. For example, one invaluable tool is ExporTech™, a proven export strategy development program, offering customized international business coaching and assistance to Wisconsin companies. This is designed to speed a company’s “go to market” timeline by developing a customized international growth plan for the company's product in key markets. On average, ExporTech™ graduates have achieved sales increases averaging $900,000 in six to nine months after completing the program.
WEDC’s International Market Access Grant (IMAG) Program provides funding to offset some of the costs of implementing an export plan. A Wisconsin exporting company can be eligible for $10,000 (or $25,000 if the firm is an ExporTech™ graduate) that can be used to offset costs of international trade shows, localizing or globalizing websites for international customers, translating product literature, registering trademarks or patents in key markets, consulting services and market research, and educating staff about various elements of international business.
To learn more about ExporTech™, contact Brad Schneider, market development director, at 608.210.6890 or through this form.
For more information about the IMAG Program, contact Monica Wahlberg, international grants manager, 608.210.6734 or through this form.