Export marketing


  • Understand the basics well – they work every time.
  • Make a warm, friendly impression to put your client at ease.
  • Keep examples of emails or letters that make a favourable impression on you. Work with them to create your own style.
  • Be brief and clear, and follow up, preferably by phone, within the next seven days.
  • Learn how meetings are conducted in your markets of interest.
  • A good website is your calling card. It does not have to be expensive. Keep it uncluttered, use graphics, and include an easy response mechanism.
  • Social media, e-commerce and product and service reviews – a great way to promote your business.
  • Business missions, business cards and brochures are important in facilitating the promotion of your products or services.

First impressions are important

We all know how important first impressions are. Letters, brochures, faxes, video-conferences, phone calls and personal meetings all have a substantial impact. Gain a competitive advantage by presenting well.

How can I make a good impression?

Pay attention to these basic factors: Be confident. Be responsive. Be professional. Be friendly. Pick up the phone. Practice your presentation.

Clients appreciate a quick and efficient reply, and want to feel that their enquiry is important to you. Even if they don’t purchase now, they are likely to remember that your company provided friendly and responsive customer service without high pressure ‘closing’ techniques.

Avoid jargon. Don’t be too familiar. Be more polite than you would perhaps normally be in Australia. Try to offer something new each time you make contact.

Set a flag on your computer’s calendar to make contact again on a particular date.

Learn the cultural factors at work in your target market. In the Middle East, for example, most emails and correspondence go unanswered, but everyone answers their mobile.

Learn what communication techniques work in the markets that interest you.

Which companies present best to you?

Observe the companies and individuals who impress you on first meeting. If it is an email or letter, what captures your attention? If it works for you, it will probably work for others. It is usually not fancy stationery but the manner in which you present yourself and your message.

Correspondence should be kept short and contain no more than three critical messages. Make it easy for your prospect to say yes to your proposal. Offer to call at a set time and check if that is convenient. Indicate that you will be following up with a phone call, sample pack or a meeting.

Email techniques are critical

Effective emails use a combination of words and layouts that convey messages quickly and stand out. Insert product photos, graphics or even video clips that define your product or service. Try to build in quick response formats that make it easier for the recipient to seek more information. Ensure your email techniques are geared to the markets you are targeting. Use other communication techniques as well, in line with local customs. Research your prospect to find out what is likely to catch their attention.

Practice meeting techniques

When you are attending a meeting or business mission (see below for further information) in a new country, seek advice on meeting etiquette. Check out the websites of Austrade or the US Department of Commerce as a starting point.

State your company’s key objectives for the meeting up front. Listen well and learn to restate your prospect’s comments to help you reach agreement on key points. Talk slowly and deliberately and keep in mind the key goals you are seeking from the meeting. Dress well and if in doubt always wear a suit, no matter what the local custom.

PowerPoint presentations should be short and include visually arresting graphics or photos of your product performing in comparable locations.

Be meticulous in follow-up. Never run out of business cards (see below for more information on ‘Business cards’).

Having a good website

A good website is your corporate brochure and prospects will usually go straight to it to check you out. The website need not be loaded with information, but be cleanly laid out with interesting graphics.

Use customer endorsements wherever possible and photographs to show your products or services being used. Make sure that contact details are easy to use and friendly – preferably a direct email with a photo of the staff member. That encourages customer response rather than an ‘enquiry.com’ address.

A well-constructed and easy-to-navigate website provides great opportunities for exporters. Maintaining an up-to-date website allows you to:

  • Make contact with potential overseas customers without leaving home
  • Reach overseas customers in cost-effective ways
  • Project the impression of a professional organisation of substance
  • Convey that your business is ‘modern’ and uses new technology
  • Avoid problems with time differences by having 24-hour contact
  • Introduce and promote new products
  • Demonstrate products using technical data, drawings
  • Sell products direct to customers

Online exporting

By 2020, global online sales are projected to reach US$4.1 trillion or 14.6% of total global retail sales.

With many overseas markets seeing double-digit growth in online sales, exporting online is a good way for Australian businesses of all sizes to expand overseas, grow sales in existing markets, and test products in new markets.

Cross-border shopping is growing in many markets as consumers become more comfortable buying imported goods online. A number of Australian brands are already successful in China but there is significant room for growth across Asia, where Australia is well known for high-quality products.

Ideally, online sales and managing the connected supply chains should form part of your overall export strategy, working in tandem with more traditional, offline channels.

Implementing an online export strategy can bring millions of customers within the reach of even the smallest producer, and may provide easier market access than traditional export channels.

Most of the fundamental concepts of exporting through traditional channels remain relevant to online exporting. Understanding customers, researching partners and suppliers, managing risks and having reliable freight all remain crucial to the success of an online exporting business. Not being prepared or failing to understand the risks involved in online exporting can be detrimental to a business’s success.

Austrade has been building relationships with major online sales platforms to understand how they operate. We have produced a guide to online exporting, as well as market guides, to help you understand the process, reduce risks and maximise sales and profits.

Guide to Online Exporting

The Guide to Online Exporting provides an overview of common business models for selling online, logistics solutions, managing risks and more

Access the Guide

Market guides

Developed markets in Asia with mature online sales systems:

Emerging markets in Southeast Asia:

Emerging markets in other regions:

Social Media

With the number of people using social media increasing, this leads to more people sharing their feedback on their personal blogs, potentially suggesting brands to their friends and families on twitter (or equivalent platforms offered by other countries) and receiving positive feedback online if the process was convenient for the customer, if the business delivered on its promises and if the product or service met the customer’s expectations.

Social media can help you engage with your customers, generate conversation and find out what people are saying about your brand and business.

You can also use it for advertising, promotional giveaways and mobile applications. Social media can be daunting, but with some research and planning, you can use it to your business's advantage.

When using Ecommerce, customers will not be able to touch/feel/taste your product before purchasing it, so the use of social media becomes extremely important to create brand awareness when promoting your products and services to customers. Brand owners can create business accounts on almost every social media platform to promote their brand.

These are all deciding factors for customers to choose which products to buy. According to a KPMG research in 2016, 55.2% global buyers will perform an online search for reviews and recommendations when researching products and 22% participants voted social media post or blog for the main trigger for online purchases.

Australian exporters should consider local social media as an important channel. However, depending on the country, different and in some cases multiple social media channels should be selected.

For example in China both Facebook and Twitter are blocked by the Chinese Government and use substitute platforms called WeChat and Weibo are used instead.

Business missions

To help Australian exporters promote their products, Austrade is associated with two sorts of trade missions:

  • From Australia to overseas markets (selling missions)
  • From overseas markets to Australia (buying missions)

Australian missions visiting overseas markets are frequently sponsored by industry organisations and government bodies. To signal the importance Australia places on these missions, they are normally led by government ministers or recognised industry leaders.

Because of their ‘group power’ and high profile, Australian selling missions create export opportunities through:

  • Wider media coverage
  • Increased access to potential customers
  • Direct contact with political and business decision makers
  • The comfort of being part of a group when visiting a market with special features, eg. poor security or a prominent role for the State in trading
  • Lower travel costs because of bulk travel, accommodation and shared promotions
  • Greater visibility at overseas events, such as trade shows and exhibitions
  • Effective support networks of ‘like’ exporters
  • Easier access to information about potential markets, competitive products and new technologies and trends

Overseas buying missions visiting Australia also provide opportunities for you to promote your products and services. By joining a buying mission, members have already shown some commitment to purchasing from Australia. These missions give individual exporters the chance to impress a number of potential customers at the one time – for instance, by demonstrating production methods and offering on-site tours. And they save Australian exporters money as the buyers are coming to them, not vice-versa.

Register online to express your interest in future missions.

Business cards

Business cards are part of overseas travel. You cannot afford to go overseas without them:

  • Make it easy for your contacts to store or scan your card for future reference by only using the standard format (approx 9cm x 5cm).
  • In non-English speaking countries it pays to print full details on the reverse side of the card in the local language. This should include the company logo in identical fashion to that on the English version.
  • Provide international telephone contact details to help your overseas contact if they want to contact you, eg. +61 2 9390 2000 or +61 (02) 9390 2000. Don’t forget to put ‘Australia’ after your State.
  • Carry abundant supplies of cards whenever you go overseas and carry them with you at all times.

In some countries (particularly in Asia) a business card is an important document. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Accept the card in two hands, study the name and details thoughtfully, and put it away carefully.
  • Don't throw your card across a desk as this may convey disrespect.
  • Avoid writing on a card when in the presence of the owner as this may also cause offence.


Some points to consider when deciding how you will use brochures in your promotions:

  • In non-English speaking countries you may wish to avoid the costs of printing new brochures by extensive use of visual material or alternatively, consider a local-language insert.
  • Simple low-cost flyers can meet the need for high volume distribution, supplemented by a more up-market, informative colour brochure for quality enquiries.
  • Having brochures available at trade shows and on trade missions is essential, this allows potential customers to view information on your products and services.
  • The majority of material that you need to collect or create for your brochure will also be useful when building your website.

Australian Suppliers Directory

Another way of promoting yourself overseas is by registering your company on Austrade’s Australian Suppliers Directory.

The Australian Suppliers Directory promotes Australian products and services to overseas buyers through Austrade's website. You simply register online – there’s no commission, no middle-man and most importantly, absolutely no cost to you.

Useful websites

Customer service

Customer Service Institute of Australia – www.csia.com.au
CSIA has a range of programs and publications featuring best practice in customer service.

Having a good website

E-Commerce and Social Media Sites

  • Facebook is an online social media and social networking service, with over 1 billion daily active users.
  • Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, with approximately 313 million monthly active users and 1 billion unique visits monthly to sites with embedded tweets.
  • Instagram is a mobile, desktop and internet based photo sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos, with approximately 700 million Instagrammers.
  • Pinterest allows users to upload, save, sort and manage images and videos through collections known as pinboards and business users are able to sell direct to consumers with a virtual storefront. Pinterest has approximately 175 million monthly users, with 87% of Pinners having brought something because of the content they saw online.
  • WeChat is a micro messaging social media, commerce and payment services app that has approximately 889 million users, predominately in Asia as an alternative to the Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp mobile apps.
  • Weibo is a microblogging site. Weibo is used as an alternative to Twitter in China.