The HEY LEP recently caught up with Victoria Boldison, a multi-award-winning Chartered Marketer and Founder of Bolst Global.
Victoria has worked internationally for all of her career within start up, SME and large corporation environments marketing and selling food, drink, supplements and medical devices around the world.
Bolst Global is an international business consultancy and export solutions provider supporting those businesses operating in global food, drink and supplement sectors. Victoria’s vision and passion with Bolst Global is to help as many ambitious and internationally oriented companies from around the world in the health food, drink and supplement space to grow overseas. Both for existing exporters and those new to export, Victoria strives to provide her clients both online and off line with the tools, knowledge and connections to make global growth a reality.
Below, Victoria offers us her three top tips when taking your food and drink brand overseas:
1. Make sure you are willing and able to commit to exporting
As with any business decision, it is important to commit fully to the choices you make with the direction you wish to take. Deciding to embrace exporting and to view international business as a fundamental part of developing your brand and growing sales goes hand in hand with this.
Subsequently you need to put resource in the form of what I call the three ‘p’s behind your international activities.
That is people, production and the pounds that the latter two create!
There has to be someone driving international growth forward, which does come at a cost to the business not only with human resources but also in the lag time it can take to see an export order come to fruition versus a domestic one. If you don’t have the expertise in house on the international side, then you will need to either upskill your internal team or outsource that expertise.
When it comes to manufacturing you need to be able to scale up your production capability as well as usually be able to adapt to specific export customer needs too. This could be in the form of changing the formulation/ingredients list, extending the shelf life, amending the labelling and the packaging size etc The question is how flexible can and are you willing to adjust to these international customer demands?
And of course this does all come at an initial upfront cost to the business. If you aren’t able to invest into either of the above, then you may not be export ready just yet and this is definitely worth bearing in mind.
2. Research, research and justify
Ensure you do some investigative work on the potential markets which could be the best fit for your product(s) and have a rationale to determine which markets you will focus on.
It can be easy to take a very scattergun approach to exporting and whilst this can give you some opportunistic wins you do risk overstretching your resources and not being in a position to focus on the markets where the biggest opportunities could be for you. But which may require greater attention to get them over the line.
Added to that, I would say that there is only so much that desk research can do for you. Nothing beats getting out into your target markets, visiting prospects/customers and carrying out more detailed research about the viability of entering a new market and trying to find suitable partners to collaborate with. Of course, this has been very tricky during the Covid-19 pandemic and hence why we have been assisting many brands via our team based out in various global territories. It has actually been a great way to gain invaluable market insights in a very short space of time and at a fraction of the cost and risk of going out to those markets in the short term.
3. Be flexible in your approach and open in your mind set
When you are selling and marketing in various markets and cultures then one size does not fit all. You must be willing to adapt many of your processes and more importantly your mind set in order to be truly successful internationally.
The best way to do this is to really listen to your customers/partners/prospects and what they are telling you about their needs and market demands. then see if you can service and deliver what they are looking for with your product, your brand, your values and your promises.
You may have to adapt the way you see the market or the kind of relationship you wish to have with your partners in market to make this viable but if you believe that this is possible and worthwhile then go for it!
You have to try a number of approaches and not be afraid to keep persisting as exporting is something you need to be in for the long term. But from personal experience and those of our clients’ I can tell you that the rewards can be more than worth it over time!
For plenty of free resources, global market insights and how to guides then check out the Bolst Global website links: https://bolstglobal.com/portfolio/ and https://bolstglobal.com/digital-products/ and for our video FAQ’s: https://bolstglobal.com/faq/
For more information on Bolst Global services and support for either new to export or experienced exporters, you can reach out to Victoria via email email@example.com