Exporting: Selling and Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve decided which export markets to approach, how do you make sure your product or service sells successfully?

Exporting: Selling and Marketing Strategy

Selling and distribution

Once the initial homework has been done, and you have decided on the export market/s to approach, you then need to organise your sales presence there.

Depending on your product/service, you may be able to sell directly. For example, you might be able to sell over the internet or by exhibiting at local trade shows.

Many businesses look for a partner who already understands the local market. For example:

  • You can sell to a distributor who then sells your products locally. Note that a distributor takes title of the goods once the sales transaction is complete; and is responsible thereafter for any profit or loss in stocking and selling them on.
  • You can use a sales agent who sells products on your behalf, or puts you into contact with potential customers on a commission basis. Note that an agent never takes title of the goods but merely stocks and sells them on, making a commission in the process but never accepting responsibility for profit or loss.
  • You can enter into a joint venture with a local business. This gives you a share of the management and profits of the joint venture, but it can be a more complicated and expensive option.
  • If you want complete control over sales, you can set up your own local office. This is the most expensive option.


Marketing is a key element of successfully selling overseas. To be effective, your marketing strategy should be tailored to each target market.

You’ll need to appreciate the traditions, culture and legislation of the countries you are trading with to exploit your exporting efforts. Customisation of your marketing activities is essential if there are cultural differences affecting the consumption of your product.

Visit the market

Visiting the market is an invaluable part of trading internationally.

You will experience the marketplace first-hand, and make the contacts necessary to do business.

Attending overseas events, such as trade fairs, or participating in a trade mission can be great ways to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales.

For more information see the business advice article on Marketing Strategy

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

In association with UKTI – Export for Growth

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