Our agency’s located in a small town in West Virginia called Wheeling, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. Its population has declined in every Census count since the 1930s to the point where Wheeling’s well less than half the size it used to be. The loss can be attributed to many factors; buy me a beer sometime and you’ll get a solid two-hour explanation.
But I’m bullish on Wheeling and am pleased to be a part of the turnaround, creating jobs and contributing to the local economy in other ways. I’ve lived and visited a lot of different places and there’s nowhere I’d rather raise my family.
I wrote the bulk of this post on a plane while flying out to San Francisco to meet with some clients and reps before heading down to SMX West. Of course you wouldn’t know that since United’s like Old Fashioned Guy from those old The State clips. Update: guess who didn’t hit the publish button?
I bring this up because Wheeling should be the US capital for telecommuters with families. Keep your high tech job in the Bay or finance job in NY or whatever people do in Miami and enjoy the lifestyle and cost of living benefits of Wheeling. Take the red eye back with me tonight and let me show you around.
“So, what’s the point of this, Justin,” you ask, maybe. The point: you can live wherever you want and thrive at work regardless of the local economy. Here’s how.
Reach Beyond the Borders with PPC
Sometimes people here act like there’s an electric fence around the city or state and they’ll get zapped if they cross the border to make money. But not only can you sell outside your local community and state, you can sell outside the country. I wrote about using PPC for testing foreign markets for PPC Hero recently and want to follow up on the concept here. It’s one I feel especially strongly about – and feel a duty to address as a member of the District Export Council, as approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Let’s Start with an Example
There are perhaps few things less sexy than truck parts. Although I guess if some woman can marry the Eifel Tower, someone might look at a box of air filters and say, “How you doin’?”
But you know what is super hot? Like Chris Hemsworth or Christina Hendricks level smoking hot? Taking an 83-year old family business and turning it into an export powerhouse. Check out this news piece on Wheeling Truck Center, a growing, thriving business in podunk Wheeling:
Motorists driving past Centre Market may not realize that a fourth-generation family-owned business marketing products to nations such as Poland, Chile, Peru, Greece and the United Kingdom is just down the street.
“We have sold parts into 93 different countries. A lot of local people don’t realize we are here because most of our dealings are with people around the world,” Ron Remp, who serves as the company’s president, said.
“When I travel to South America, pretty much everyone knows where Miami is. But they have no idea where West Virginia is,” added Chad Remp, the company’s operations manager. “If we can get the product to Miami, they know how to get it from there.”
And they’ve done much of it through Google AdWords.
So How Can You Get Some of that Sweet, Sweet Nuevo Sol?
Start by doing some research into the countries where you think there might be a market for your products or services. And let’s assume for a minute that it’s not China, Korea, Japan, or Taiwan. Better if not Russia or any former Soviet
Union territories as well. Those markets are not dominated by Google; they’re Baidu, Naver, Yahoo!, Yahoo!, and Yandex, respectively. (Weird note if you want to get into the weeds: to run PPC advertising in Japan, you’d use Yahoo! Search Marketing, but in Taiwan you’d use Bing Ads.)
Now if you’re trying to reach any of the…I’m not great at estimating…thirteen million other foreign countries, you can focus just on Google.
While we’re big fans of both SEO and PPC in general, you’ll want to actually run PPC campaigns for market testing. It’s not worth the time and effort you’ll need to put into optimizing a site or sub-site for what may be a dead market.
Setting up Foreign Google AdWords Campaigns
In your AdWords account, go ahead and create a new campaign for each market that you want to test and change the location settings to just that country. You can used shared budgets if you don’t have a specific budget for that country. Do all your normal keyword research; if using the Google Keyword Planner, make sure to change the country setting so you’re not getting your own country’s estimates.
You’ll definitely want to run keywords in your native language; let’s call that English to make writing and reading the rest of this post easier. Write ad text in English and do the same with your landing page text.
When it comes to foreign language keywords ask yourself a couple questions: do I have the resources to write in that foreign language? Am I selling a universally recognizable product directly on my site? Do I have anyone on staff that can speak well enough to take a call, or write well enough for live chat or to respond to emails?
Regardless of the above, I’d typically recommend that you advertise on relevant foreign keywords. If you answered ‘no’ to most or all of the questions above, go ahead and write your ads in English and point them to the most relevant English landing pages on your site. Monitor your campaigns closely like you should anyway, but the majority of people clicking on English ads hopefully are doing so because they can read them. Keep in mind that in many parts of the world, people are much more likely to speak multiple languages than here in the U.S.
If you do have appropriate resources, write ads in the foreign language and be sure to direct people to a landing page in that same language. The last thing you want to do is pay for a click from someone who doesn’t speak English, then force them to a page just covered with the stuff.
A Note about Professional Translation
Professional translation is ALWAYS better than tools like Google Translate. But sometimes if you’re just trying to do a quick test of a market, you can get away with a Google Translate version of your landing page. That’s especially true if you have an ecommerce provider featuring items that will be searched by universal SKU / brand-part number combinations.
Ads are a different story. Writing ads in English is difficult enough, trying to cram so much into so little space. If you try to ram your English text through the Google Translatoplex 3000, it’s probably going to spit out gobbldygook. Professional translation on ads should not be too expensive. But if you’re in a pinch, take some pizza down to the foreign exchange student wing of the dorm on your local college campus.
Prove You’re Credible
Without getting into all the best practices for export marketing PPC campaigns, the last nail I want to hammer home is about credibility. These potential buyers in the other hemisphere don’t know your company from Adam Co. You’re asking them to put an awful lot of faith in you that they’ll actually get what they pay for. Here are some ways to enhance credibility:
- Star ratings. The more ratings you can show from an online marketplace like Amazon or Alibaba [Justin check about ratings], the better. Or if you’re not an etailer, ratings from review sites like Yelp and Google+ Local can help. If you’re pasting ratings directly onto your site, I’m a big fan of picking out names that would be common in that local market.
- Testimonials. Just like in your local market, testimonials can really help. If B2B, use the company’s name and / or logo. Obviously you’ll use a real testimonial. Make sure it looks like one and not all the astroturf garbage that’s out there.
- Symbols. Any kind of symbols. Association, secure shopping, awards. You can even make up symbols to get a point across. Credibility symbols help in all cases, but especially when a non-native speaker is reading an English page – or when a visitor is reading a page in her or his own language and you used Google Translate.
- Shipping. Explain the process. Let them know exactly how it works from how you handle payment to when you ship, which methods, and when they should expect it. Include any details about customs, even if it’s just letting them know they’re responsible for any duties, etc.
Hope these tips help you on your way to successful exporting!