For some Canadian companies, opening their doors to American customers is an absolute necessity from the get-go.
For others, expanding into the US market happens during a growth phase.
If you’re a company already exporting, or planning to export, I have a two-step plan that will grow awareness of your products among your ideal customers in the United States.
This will work for just about any company that manufactures a branded product, regardless of whether you sell directly to the customer, or via a distribution network.
The goal here is to increase awareness, thereby increasing sales.
My two-step plan doesn’t include things like trade shows, advertising or sending sales reps to visit vendors and distributors. Not because I don’t agree with these, but because they’re missing a link.
The missing link is how manufacturers can capture the attention of buyers who use the Internet when researching a purchase (rather than trade shows, advertising, or visiting a store).
And these buyers are no small group.
According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 88% of American consumers surveyed said they turn to the Internet to research products before they buy.
These results are consistent with other surveys, such as GE Capital Retail Bank’s Major Purchase Shopper Study – 80% of those surveyed start their search process on the Internet at home.
Both studies noted that the actual purchase, even though searched out first online, was often made in a store.
Getting back to the title of this post, “How Canadian Manufacturers Can Grow Awareness of Their Products in the United States”, the two-step process is this:
1. Create a website.
2. Fill it with relevant, high quality content.
OK, this is simplified, but does sum it up well. I’ll explain with an example.
Let’s say your company manufactures residential windows, including a triple coated low-E window designed for hot, sunny locations.
We’ve established above that a huge percentage of buyers do their research online. This means that in Florida (hot and sunny), an estimated 80%+ of the people who are in the market for windows today (new home builders, home owners, general contractors) are researching their options online.
Will they find your website? If they do, will they have a compelling reason to stay and learn more?
In order to be sure your brand hits the radar of those consumers who head to places like Google, Bing and Yahoo, you need a website that gets found when they search, and answers their questions.
The “getting found” part involves good SEO…but as I’ve discussed in other blog posts,”getting found” these days has more to do with great content than anything else (hence step 2).
Once you’re found, and potential buyers are consuming your content, the next step is to convert them into leads for your sales team, then close the sale. There’s a system for doing that as well, but I’ll save it for another blog post. :)
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