8 MiMfg Magazine May / June 2022
Member since July 2021 • Learn more at ibt . onl /
For Global Growth , Think Local
Whether you already have a customer base outside the U . S . or you ’ ve just started to consider doing business beyond U . S . borders , it ’ s important to think local about your global presence .
To help encourage and increase exports , Michigan State Trade Expansion Program ( MI-STEP ) funding supports export development for eligible small and medium-sized businesses through financial assistance grants for virtual and in-person trade missions , international sales trips and trade shows .
The MI-STEP program , which is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation ( MEDC ), can also be used for website translation , localization and search engine optimization , covering up to 75 percent of the cost .
“ Having a locally optimized web presence is crucial for manufacturers to increase sales , expand their distribution network and attract talent in foreign markets ,” says Andrew Lawlor , Business Development Manager at IBT Online , a digital marketing and website management company that specializes in international business .
IBT Online has a formal partnership with MEDC and supports manufacturers looking to expand their digital footprint beyond U . S . borders . They have helped more than 500 companies enter more than 65 target markets and they have expertise in regulatory compliance changes and currency changes in those markets .
What is the best part about your job ? Speaking with our partners , prospects and clients on a daily basis .
Andrew Lawlor Business Development Manager
Lawlor says the MEDC is a great place to start for any manufacturer that wants to learn more about pursuing international business , and MI-STEP can be a significant benefit for small to mid-sized manufacturers looking to reinforce local sales efforts in other countries .
“ They do market research and can recommend other markets that can be promising for manufacturers ,” says Lawlor .
With the current complications of international sales trips and the increased cost and logistic challenges of displaying your products at trade shows in other countries , developing localized websites optimized for foreign markets can be a much more effective and affordable solution .
How does your company innovate ? We innovate by listening to our clients ’ needs on how to leverage the online world . For example , demand for localized e-commerce websites for B2B exploded during the pandemic , as more and more manufacturers are looking to conduct business online . Therefore , we have now constructed a dedicated e-commerce program for companies looking to create international shopping carts for their top international markets .
“ A local domain name is only the beginning , such as dot-ca , dot-mx or dot-de instead of dot-com ,” says Lawlor . “ And simply translating your text is not enough . Content needs to be relevant for local markets , and the content needs to be optimized to follow local browsing habits in other countries . There are a lot of cultural nuances that need to be taken into consideration .”
Increasing sales volume by expanding into other markets can provide a big boon for manufacturers . But potential customers and distribution partners in other countries may never see your U . S . -based website .
“ That ’ s just the way the Internet works ,” Lawlor says . By helping businesses establish localized web presences in foreign markets , IBT Online puts a new spin on the old saying , “ Think global . Act local .” 6
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