Increasing brand awareness in export markets
Picture by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Increasing brand awareness in export markets

I love helping indigenous companies create visibility, leads and sales in international markets. 

Brand awareness, or in export markets often the initial lack of it, plays a key role in this. So, lets examine why brand awareness is so important, especially in export markets, and how to overcome the lack of brand awareness.

The importance of brand awareness

We all know the vital role brands play and thus the importance of brand awareness. If people know your brand and brand name:

  • They are more likely to search for it when looking for a particular product or service
  • They are more likely to trust you, as they are familiar with your brand, having heard of it or, better, having experienced it before
  • They are more likely to buy from you – as a result of having found you and because of the trust that your brand instills based on visibility, reputation, previous experience

So, no question, brand awareness is key and this applies both in a B2C as well as a B2B context.

Lack of brand awareness in export markets

Most companies I work with have a strong brand in their home market. This is especially true in the Irish market, where even relatively new companies can create brand awareness quite quickly, given the small size of the market and the power of word of mouth.

The problem arises when companies try to internationalise their business. All of a sudden, their brand is no longer a known quantity and as a result:

  • There is little search for the brand or brand name
  • There is little trust resulting from brand recognition

In sum, brand traffic to a website in a chosen export market tends to be very small, thus considerably reducing the overall number of visitors to and leads generated by the website. In addition, even if the website in question is found by searchers abroad, the brand no longer helps to build trust, thus hampering lead conversion and sales.

Understanding brand awareness or the lack of brand awareness is very important when developing a marketing strategy. So, ask yourself: Do you know, how well-known your brand is in your target export market/s? Do you know, how that level of brand awareness compares to the brand strength of your main competitors in that particular export market? What role does brand search play in your acquisition of website traffic in your home market?  

Increasing brand awareness in export markets

While brand awareness is generally low in export markets, especially for newer companies and SMEs, once this is acknowledged, the focus of attention needs to shift to figuring out the best ways to increase brand awareness in new markets.

There are many ways to increase brand awareness and which ones work best depend on a variety of factors and thus will vary from case to case. So, this is not the place to go into detail on this.

Also, while brand awareness will to some degree happen automatically when the company has established itself in the new market, brand awareness is not something that will happen quickly and thus is something that, especially in the early stages, needs a lot of work. 

Therefore, for the purpose of this short article, lets focus on some actions you can take in the short term to counteract the lack of brand awareness in new markets.


Interim strategies for brand awareness in export markets

While ‘organic’ brand awareness is still low, some interim strategies are needed to raise brand awareness in the respective market. These are all about visibility and getting your brand name known in the new market, for example: 

  • Use of online advertising – search ads, display ads, remarketing, social media ads
  • Creating SEO-optimised content, so people find your content and website when they look for something related to your offering
  • Being active on the relevant social media where you target audience is likely to socialise

In sum, it’s all about visibility, being found online, being found in search, being found when people visit sites related to your offering. This is not new and you know it from your home market. The aim is getting your brand name and what is stands for seen – listings on SERP results, social media presence and shares, impressions, clicks.

But what’s new here and what companies sometimes forget is that all those paid and organic visibility-raising activities are so much more important in export markets where your brand is not known to the same degree as in your home market.

Do you want to find out, how well known your brand and its competitors are in a chosen export market ? Do you need help with building brand awareness or alternative strategies to counteract low levels of  brand awareness? Just contact Glocafy

Susanne Dirks

Susanne Dirks is an internationalisation consultant, specialising in website localisation, international SEO and international digital marketing.