Success In Any Language

Globalization and the online movement — two dynamic forces of our time –continue to flourish in just about every country in the world. The export market is tremendous, and going global is no longer a mere alternative. It’s necessary for business survival.

If your business has not gone global, you can bet your euro dollar that your competition has a plan to get there, regardless of their geographical location.

It’s A Cyber World

The web has helped remove barriers between countries, but there are still numerous opportunities to address foreign markets. Today, there are only seven countries where English is the primary language spoken, by some half a billion people, in places where the combined economies represent 30 percent of the world economy. The combined populations of these countries represent only 8 percent of the world population. Companies that continue to target this small fraction of the world market will miss out on capturing a much larger potential market.

The latest stats say 91 million people access the Internet from English-speaking countries; whereas 75 million people have access in other languages. In 1997, this latter group represented only 10 million people. I’ll do the math for you: That’s a seven-fold increase in the non-English speaking world in less than two years.

The Euro Enhances Foreign Markets

Early this year, European currencies merged to become the euro, a move that stands to phase out local European currencies by the year 2002. The euro will enhance competition by forcing companies to concentrate on price, quality, and production. Best for Internet vendors, the euro will make it easier for non-European companies to enter European markets. The euro can also make it easier for a small company to target most of the European market.

Unfortunately, American business usually has a parochial viewpoint, and considers international sales “gravy.” They brag that without any translation to their web site, they already have 20 percent of their traffic from other countries (which usually means English-speaking countries).

The fact is, once the world market is fully developed, foreign countries will contribute twice the sales volume of US domestic sales. The translation of this volume into dollar figures is quite startling. For every $1,000,000 of US sales, a passive approach yields $200,000 in export sales. But an active approach to developing foreign markets would yield $2,000,000 in sales. Ten times as much! This simple calculation shows how much sales potential is being missed by not taking foreign markets seriously.

Money Talks My Language

Europeans and Asians have used multiple languages for centuries when selling to one another, because they recognize that marketing occurs in the language of the target market. As former German chancellor Willy Brandt once said: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann muessen Sie Deutsch sprechen (then you must speak German).”

Recent figures from the Gartner Group state that 80 percent of the European-based corporate sites are multi-lingual. With a limited number of US-based multi-lingual web sites available, who do you think will have a better chance of capturing the international online market?

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