Many small businesses involved in international trade are too busy to pay much attention to the latest trends and skills needed to use the internet. After all, many of them think, Letters of Credit have not changed much for at least 400 years! Containers have been used for transporting goods since the 1970s. And, many ask, “Why should my competitors know exactly what kind of business I am doing?”
However, like it or not, the internet has changed the world. The internet is much more than just a medium of communication. It is more and more becoming the main vehicle for marketing and transacting business, both locally and internationally. And it is opening a new world of opportunity and transparency in international trade.
- These days most people looking for business partners, service providers, product sources and resources about new markets start by searching online.
- Online marketplaces and trade shows are to some degree replacing live trade shows.
- International meetings are now regularly held using Skype or similar software, vastly cutting down on travel expenses.
- Social Media gets the word out immediately about international trade transactions, events, products, and news and career opportunities.
- Optimization of websites for search engine placement, Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns and social media marketing strategies are all now central skills needed to run a business.
Sadly many international SMEs are falling behind with these skills. And their more savvy competitors are gaining ground.
And, all this said, human nature and the nature of international commerce still demands live person-to-person contact. The new technologies are creating the need to balance the old and new ways of doing business. Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting details about how to integrate the new into the old and bring your business into the 21st century!
Among topics to be discussed are:
- Updating your website so that it informs and can be found.
- Marketing on online marketplaces.
- Using online communications with your customer and partners.
- How social media is used in business to business.
- How to wisely pay for online advertising.
- When you still have to get on a plane, go to trade shows and visit your customers in spite of the new technologies.