Even when looking to Germany as the 'export champion' Mr. Grillo is still right. However, evaluating the basic export figures as 'exports per capita' Germany is - as per World-Factbook of the CIA, 2011 - still only number 6 when looking to Europe only.
Outside of Europe the first five are: Singapore, Hong Kong, Belgium, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates. Here Germany ranks at 9. A more detailed analysis with graphics can be found via the website 'News' at the right hand side.
Bearing in mind, that the strongest industrial region of the world is Europe - it is absolutely worthwhile for any foreign supplier to go there/come here. First because it would strengthen their local economies/companies and secondly because this will help to relieve the European foreign trade balance.
However, doing business abroad needs answers to a few questions which should/could/have to be looked at if the task is to become more successful, to stabilize the company and to become more resistant to recessions.
Exporting companies always have advantages over others because it shows their increased stability towards any buyer and - just in case -, as recessions do not have the same timing and consequences in the various worlds' regions they are less affected, as the past has shown. Recessions do have the unpleasant character to repeat...
Some questions for exporting companies - especially those producing investment goods or parts thereof - are as follows:
- Which companies - either in all industrially advanced countries of the world or in specific target countries - are potential clients for us, per market and/or market segment (industrial field/activity, size of the client company, product requirements, etc.)?
- Could the clients supplied so far act as a basis for some kind of 'multiplication' into other countries - i. e. do other countries have the same or similar technical needs, standards, etc.?
- Which are the 'buying habits' in which countries as per market segment - distributor, sales-/synergy partners, direct sales, etc.?
- How can the customer service needs be satisfied - just and only locally, via internet diagnosis, or what else?
- Who is the competition, coming from where, with which advantages/disadvantages compared to us, and how / where could we possibly be better?... and
- How can they be confronted successfully?
These are but a few questions - besides of foreign taxes, foreign languages spoken in the respective producing company, transport questions, etc. - which are paramount in order to evaluate if and where a company could succeed in the future. Additional questions refer also to the own core competencies, capacity for innovation, possibly new/different market segments, and last not least, the financial engagement possible/planned for this - certainly successful task.
In addition lots of more questions have to be answered regarding the specifics of each and every company, but only after the data needed are available, the correct conclusions can be drawn.
A good guiding principle could be the following hint of Albert Einstein:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."
Imagination is, besides of a thorough analysis, one of the most important activities in marketing, in order to make comprehensive use of a companies capabilities.
Not to be forgotten, however, also is that the Internet plays a vital role in making the enterprise known, getting first contacts, showing the technical and social capabilities, underlining its competences in problem solving, etc. Starting from general search results to the presence in specialized portals, press releases - in the respective countries! - and more.
Marketing is incomplete without internet. But, internet without a suitable marketing strategy is as well incomplete - and - most probably a senseless effort.
Summary: Tackle the international markets which are of interest and use to you... now.