Written By: Blair Severn, Chairman of Enabling Ideas
You’ve decided it’s time to make the leap from selling just in your home country to now offering your products or services across the border. You’ve identified your Target Market and set your Participation Strategy. Now it’s time to engage your growth engine and get to selling.
Most of us are familiar with the growth engine parts (i.e. marketing, social media, public relations, lead generation, business development, sales and distribution etc.). But organically these activities may take some time to produce results. If you’d like to speed things up, as we all do, your pace of growth can be accelerated by basing your market entry off an entrance asset.
An entrance asset is a physical or relational connection into the new market you are entering. It can be a hard asset or soft asset. A hard asset is a direct connector such as a prominently placed location that establishes visibility or a strategic partner that will represent your company to the market. A soft asset is more indirect. It can be a relationship that provides introductions or a membership within organization, (ie. Buffalo Niagara Partnership or a private club), that can be a link to becoming known in the Community.
The key to a valuable entrance asset, to igniting your growth, is not that the asset helps give you visibility but more importantly that it helps you build your credibility quicker. And to build your credibility requires you demonstrate a commitment, an investment, into the Community.
With this in mind, my organization launched our entrance from Canada into the United States through a relationship from our past that had left Canada and moved into the United States. Fundamental in selecting this as the asset from which to base our market entry was (i) they had significant credibility in the market themselves and (ii) they had direct knowledge and understanding of what we did it and that we did it very well. Meaning, they had credibility in a market where we had none as of yet. But what we did have was credibility with them. In reaching out to this individual and activating this asset, we became introduced to our first U.S. client.
To be instrumental in accelerating growth, your asset also needs to be a pathway to scale. This may require you to reach beyond your launch asset and assemble further growth assets.
For scaling up, we focused our growth strategy around supporting the community interests of our first client. We centered on our client’s advocacy for a prominent educational institution that had the benefit of a wide reach into the market. Through initially volunteering our time and expertise, we demonstrated our commitment to the community and built new relationships and credibility. Our investment led to an opportunity to align with this institution in a co-offer / co-marketing relationship, which in turn paved a pathway to multiple market introductions.
Today, half of our business is now with U.S clients.
Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.