Creating an export plan

Before you dive straight in to exporting, you will need to make sure that you have an export plan to focus your attention and help you succeed. After you have done your initial research and know that you have got a viable market somewhere else in the world, you will need to sit down and work out how you are going to get your product to that place.

There are lots of minor details that need to go in to your export plan, but some of them will be similar to considerations you made when you wrote your business plan. It should outline your objectives, strategies and preparations, as well as give you an understanding of the risks and benefits that you might face. This article will take you through the different elements that you should include to help give you the best chance of success.

  • Define your unique selling points and competitive edge in your export plan

You already know what makes you different, but getting it down on paper reiterates it in your mind, and helps you feel confident about your proposition. Your unique selling point (USP) in the UK market can transfer over in to your new market, and increasing your market by going global could increase your competitiveness as a business.

This could result in an increase in your profits, which could be reinvested into other aspects of your business, such as working on new product development or expanding your marketing efforts.

  • Do you need to modify your product?

What passes regulations in the UK might not qualify in another country. Particularly with food, natural products and toys, European and global markets have different standards for their products.

Make sure that you check with the local standards agency that your product will be accepted in to their market as it is. If not, you need to establish whether a few changes are sufficient to meet their regulations or whether bigger alterations are need. If it’s that latter, does the cost involved in making those changes mean that exporting to that market make it still a viable option?

  • Who is your target market?

If you have done your research, you should know exactly who you will be selling to in your new market. Make sure that you also log this information within your export plan. Plans can be kept flexible, but having a clear idea of who you want to market to and why you have chosen them can be really helpful.

Having this clearly defined with sound reasoning can be especially important if you are pitching for funding. It will show potential investors that you have got clear justifications for choosing the market that you have.

  • Have you considered your routes to market?

How are you intending to get your product to your customers? You will need to define your routes to market in your export plan, so it is clear to you, your staff, or anyone else who accesses your plan whether you will be using an eCommerce site, overseas distributor, a partner organisation or opening a store.

In this part of your export plan, you could also include how you will identify your overseas partners, if you are going to need any. Determine how you will find them, and set out how you will maintain and develop your relationships when you could be thousands of miles apart. See our page on finding an export marketing for your business or head to GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • Outline your operations

You will need to have a good understanding of all the tasks you will need to complete to actually get your product to your customers. You will need to think about what your shipping methods are going to be, how you will distribute your products, and what customs regulations, licenses and paperwork you will need to get your product out of the UK?

Here, you might also need to think about your intellectual property and how you can protect it when you go global. Even if you have got intellectual property protection for your products in the UK, you will need to make sure you protect yourself in your new market.

  • Your marketing plan

What is your plan going to be to attract customers in your new market? In your export plan, set down what your campaigns are going to be, and what your budget you will need to set aside to run them. You will need to get to know your new market so you can familiarise yourself with what adverts and channels work well there, as cultural differences might come in to play.

What is effective in the UK might not work in your new market. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to speak with a local expert to double check the viability of your marketing ideas before you spend money and time running it.

  • Consider your finances

A regular business plan will include an overview of your finances, covering your financial forecasting, income and expenditure, and your export plan should be no different. You will need to clarify: how you plan to finance your export; outline the resources that you are going to need to make it successful; and what they are likely to cost. For help with this and any other part of your export plan, you can get in touch with us. We can provide support, as well as determine whether there is any eligible funding that could help with you exporting goals.

Find out more about how we can support with imports and exports.