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2018 New Year, New Business Ideas

New Business Ideas

By: Greg Seminara,Export Solutions
Topics: Export 2018

It's far from business as usual in the export world. Most companies are managing to a decent 2017 finish through a combination of emerging market growth and improved conditions in the home market. 
2018 looks tougher, with political and economic turbulence in Saudi Arabia,S Korea, Turkey, and Brasil.Trump,Brexit, currency swings,and the surge in Internet shopping provide create an uncertain outlook for our "old school" export development plans. Listed below are ideas to define your new game plan for achieving your 2018 targets.

1. Focus on Fewer, Bigger Opportunities
All markets are not created equally and many of us spend too much time on small or mature markets.
Pick 1-2 high potential markets in your area. Visit frequently and invest at a higher level in local programs. The USA market opportunity is "Bigger than BRIC" for most exporters.

2. More in the Store
Dedicate 2018 to improved retail conditions for your brand. Publish an in store presence handbook.
Sponsor a sales contest to encourage better shelf positioning. Spend a half day on each trip visiting stores. The supermarket is where inventory is translated to actual sales. Read Good Store, Bad Store to learn Export Solutions point of view.

3. Create a Listing Map for each Country
Each market should maintain a brand availability listing map. This template should track your brands availability by size( Variant) and by retailer. Create a methodology to track new or lost distribution. 

4. E Commerce Sales Strategy
Online sales of supermarket items surged by more than 100 percent in some countries. E Commerce sales will surpass brick and mortar sales in India and represent 35 % of sales in China for some imported brands. Unfortunately, many distributors have not grasped a sense of urgency to address this high growth channel. Challenge each distributor to create a game plan for their Ecommerce channel. Support early efforts with digital marketing dollars.The future is now !

5. January Call or Visit to each Distributor CEO
Get an early pulse on the market. Make personal calls to leaders regarding 2018 expectations, planned investments, and insights from large retailers. Reinforce your key priorities and secure commitment for "no surprises". Read Connecting with Distributor's CEO's for our insights.

6.Launch Breakthrough:
Think Big! An adjustment in mindset towards “What if” can deliver game changing results for your business. The consumer goods industry contains many success stories where hungry innovators challenged existing status quo to achieve Breakthrough results. Breakthrough is about delivering extraordinary results by employing unique strategies and perseverance. The beauty of Breakthrough is that everyone can participate. Each team member needs to analyze his business and identify one sale or achievement that would deliver maximum impact. Breakthrough objectives should focus on “Big Wins at Big Accounts” and be aligned with your companies overall growth strategy. 

7. Co-Branded Promotional Campaign
Retailers generate excitement through theme events around a group of complimentary items or common cause. Reach out to Brand Owners of products that sync with your product. For example a low calorie sweetener manufacturer could do a joint promotion with a coffee manufacturer.  What about a Barbecue event with Barbecue related products : Charcoal, Meat, Snacks, Drinks, Condiments etc. Another example is a retailer promotion celebrating their company anniversary or support of their designated Charity ( Breast Cancer, Diabetes etc.). In many countries, leading distributors sponsor an annual event for all the brands they represent. Many countries export offices organize annual events at leading supermarkets for all food brands from their country. In each case, manufacturers pay for a portion of the event as costs are spread out among all brand participants.

8. Hot Countries
Business may be tough at home, but certain regions will boom in 2018.
GDP growth is positive for most of Asia, with particular strength in China & India. Oil prices have recovered from their lows and are replenishing the coffers of most Middle East countries. Peru, South Korea, and Colombia are mid-sized countries offering good potential with modest investment requirements. Look to Turkey,Thailand,Mongolia,Myanmar,Saudi Arabia and Indonesia for emerging market opportunities with a higher risk profile. Iran and Cuba are markets of tomorrow. 

9. Distributor of the Year- Sales Contest
Sales people love to compete. It is incredible the results that can be generated for a modest prize. Consider a Distributor of the Year program. Normally, I like contests that are 50 % dependent on shipment performance versus quota, 25 % on achieving new product launch acceptance ( or other major initiatives), and 25 % for intangible activities: Breakthrough performance, success despite adversity etc. The key is to strike a balance between shipments (what counts) and other factors as in many cases shipments don’t tell the entire story. Publish periodic updates and rankings. This pushes leaders to remain focused and laggards to increase intensity.Everyone loves to be part of a winning team. 

10. Underperforming Markets- Distributor Change
All Companies have problem markets! The first step is to admit that the market has a problem. It’s a natural instinct to rationalize poor results and hope for future improvements. We must remind ourselves that chronic underperformers impact our ability to achieve our personal sales and profit targets. Organization change is a last resort, but sometimes the best avenue to reinvigorate your brand. A new distributor brings energy, focus, and commitment. Make the decision today, in order to have your new distributor make an impact on second half 2018 sales. Read Changing Distributors the Right Way.

The new year represents an excellent time to set aside time to identify industry trends and develop your personal plan for making a difference in 2018. Send a message to senior management that you are focused on the future. Good luck !