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A few tips for small New Zealand companies about the Australian market

For a number of small New Zealand companies, breaking into the Australian market is a necessary next step in taking the business to that other level.

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For a number of small New Zealand companies, breaking into the Australian market is a necessary next step in taking the business to that other level. I’ve worked with a number of fantastic little businesses whose passionate owners, the ‘creative entrepreneur’ types or ‘two sisters with an idea’, have had great success in NZ and are not sure where to begin in marketing to Australia.

New Zealanders and Australians are very close culturally and geographically and the populations tend to pretty much blend in (ignoring the obvious jokes we make about one another) but there are definite differences when it comes to launching new products or services. Australian buyers require a lot more nurturing to take an interest in your business.New Zealand has long been a fierce supporter of its own creative talent and the NZ brand.(A quick word about the NZ brand: when an entire country gets behind its own innovative image, when the government introduces and believes in its strapline ‘New Zealand New Thinking’, that can only be good thing.)

I have to say it, chic and slick sales materials really do go a long way, and that’s true whether you’re in the skincare business, the fashion business or the accounting business. When you’re the new company trying to carve out a niche customer following and excite people, it pays to look sophisticated in your presentation.

This means investing some initial dollars and working with a good designer to create a great looking brand that can be carried across all your sales materials. Even if you’re a one man band. (Especially if you’re a one man band.) These are not costs in the tens of thousands, you may strike it lucky with a particularly good designer who can do great work for several thousand dollars, maybe even a few hundred.

Once you have the right materials that best represent your business – a quality booklet that showcases your business and products in depth, a top-level summary that can be left behind as a reminder, samples that can be distributed to the right people, materials that support the future sales force or excite distributors, a website that reinforces the professionalism of your business – then you can start nurturing the right contacts.

A few reminder points for the small New Zealand company about to embark on an Australian marketing tour:

  1. Be confident you have the best materials that showcase your product or service to potential buyers – unless you have a REALLY good home printer and a background in design, don’t even go there. Get this all designed and printed professionally.
  2. Do some research into your Australian market (it’s amazing what business info you can get after a few hours on Google).
  3. Develop a contact list of the key people and places you need to speak with (Google – again, a gem of info).
  4. Make contact and appointments before leaving the country. You may be surprised at just how often a seemingly small design store gets solicited with products and how much they hate being dropped in on. (If you, like me, are not a fan of cold calling, email is always a good option for contacting people. They come to it in their own time, when they’re good and ready, and in the mood.)
  5. Have your emailable materials ready to go as follow up. Again, a professional slick pdf booklet made with computer-viewing in mind i.e. visual and not pages and pages of words.
  6. If you weren’t able to meet in person, follow up again by snail mail – send samples of your products and, again, those materials to leave behind. It’s still a treat to get a parcel in the mail, especially if you’re trying to generate publicity through magazines and the recipients of your samples are often 22-year old PR girls who love a freebie product.
  7. And of course, don’t be put off by the rejection. If you have a good product and good story, nurture those contacts on a quarterly basis and keep them informed as your business develops.

I find for small companies with minimal budgets and time, PR may well be the best way to go.