Today, businesses in the United States can become more active in exporting. Only 15 percent of U.S. exporters account for 85 percent of the value of U.S.-manufactured exports. One-half of all exporters sell in only one foreign market. Fewer than 20 percent of exporters (less than 3 percent of U.S. companies) export to more than five markets.

Competing effectively abroad helps companies maintain an edge in their home market. Due to the costs and risks associated with exporting, it is up to each company to weigh the necessary commitment against the potential benefit.

Rules of Thumb for Successful Exporting

  • Obtain qualified export counseling and develop a master international marketing plan before starting an export business. The plan should clearly define goals, objectives, and problems that may be encountered.
  • Secure a commitment from top management to overcome the initial difficulties and financial requirements of exporting. Take a long-range view of this process.
  • Select overseas distributors carefully. International communication and transportation require international distributors to act more independently than their domestic counterparts.
  • Establish a basis for profitable operations and orderly growth. Unsolicited trade leads should not be ignored, but the successful exporter will not rely solely on these inquiries.
  • Continue to pursue export business even when the U.S. market is healthy.
  • Treat international distributors on an equal basis with domestic counterparts, offering similar advertising, special discounts, sales incentive programs, special credit terms, warranty offers, etc.
  • Do not assume that a marketing technique that works in Japan will be equally successful in France. Treat each market individually to ensure maximum success.
  • Be willing to adapt products to meet regulations or cultural preferences of other countries.
  • Print service, sale, and warranty messages in local languages.
  • Provide readily available servicing for the product.
Source: A Basic Guide to Exporting