The internationalization of a product or service is an unavoidable step that most companies face sooner or later. In 2023, it is rare for companies not to consider internationalization from the outset. Internationalization, in fact, offers the opportunity to test your value proposition against the challenges and specificities of your target market.
For example, MirrorProfiles was designed from the outset to be a product that could be used anywhere in the world, meeting all kinds of Linkedin prospecting needs. Although internationalization is attractive, it’s imperative to be aware of the challenges it presents, and to quickly adjust acquisition channels to suit the target country. Approaches vary from country to country, and your targets will not react in the same way to your messages.
This article draws on a number of practical experiences and deliberately takes sides. To be frank, it’s the opposite of what you might read in books or courses you’ve taken.
The main reasons for internationalizing Linkedin prospecting
A company’s internationalization is not just a search for new horizons, but also a sound strategy to catalyze growth, achieve economies of scale and optimize return on investment (ROI). It also acts as a shield, mitigating risk by diversifying markets and exploring new opportunities to cater to a diverse, global customer base.
Internationalization strategy: a carefully thought-out conquest
Venturing onto the international scene is not something to be taken lightly. A meticulous internationalization strategy enables the company to navigate confidently through the challenges of expansion, optimizing resources and adapting its objectives to seize new opportunities on a wider stage.
Exploring New Growth Vectors
The desire to go international often stems from a desire to increase sales. For an established company, or one operating in a saturated market, looking beyond borders is a smart way to discover emerging markets and meet new, interested customers.
Cost Optimization and ROI Improvement on an International Scale
International expansion enables us to broaden our market and customer base, offering opportunities for economies of scale. Whether through the optimized use of company resources or through marketing campaigns with a global reach, the company can reach a wider audience without a proportional increase in costs, thus improving its ROI.
Risk Mitigation through Diversification
Expanding into new markets, while risky, offers a hedge against the dangers of concentrating on a single market. Internationalization helps to dilute these risks, offering protection against economic fluctuations specific to a given country or market.
Opening up to international B2B customers
For B2B companies, internationalization is not just an option, but often a necessity to serve global customers, ensuring consistency and quality of service across borders.
Increase Brand Visibility Worldwide
Internationalization is also a lever for boosting brand visibility, by combining global marketing strategies with targeted actions that respect local and cultural specificities, while maximizing the effectiveness of marketing investments.
Meeting the expectations of a wide range of customers
Exploring new markets is also a source of innovation, enabling the company to discover and respond to the varied needs of different customer groups, enriching its offering and strengthening its position both in new territories and in its home market.
Making your product or service accessible to any company in the world gives you a considerable advantage: you’ll never run out of customers. Another advantage is that sometimes products developed in France work much better in another country. For example, many SAAS tools specializing in automation work better in the USA than in France. Conversely, products specializing in sales velocity and CRM are more American than French.
To take a step back, here are a few examples of French products that have done better abroad:
1. Sophie the Giraffe: A must-have for Japanese babies
Sophie the Giraffe, after conquering the United States, is on the road to similar fame in Japan. Stéphanie Arnaud, Vulli’s Marketing Director, emphasizes the application of a proven strategy: highlighting French origin on the packaging and winning the hearts of influential moms, such as Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian in the United States, and supermodel Yuri Ebihara in Japan. Word of mouth did the rest, and Sophie is now available in 600 Japanese boutiques.
2. Brioche Dorée: a growing success in Korea
Brioche Dorée is enjoying daily success in Korea, with over 800 customers visiting each of its 10 stores every day, a figure that equals French performance. François-Xavier Colas, Asia Director, expresses his satisfaction and reveals ambitious expansion plans, with the opening of 80 new stores by 2025. The recipe for success? A clever blend of 70% authentic French recipes, concocted in Brittany, and 30% local adaptations to please the Korean palate.
3. Kiri in Japan: A Multitude of Tasty Variations
Kiri, the famous portioned cheese, undergoes a remarkable transformation in Japan. Already popular in its classic version, with 50% of Japanese having already tasted it, Kiri is now reinvented in various delicacies such as cheesecakes, tarts and ice creams. This represents a valuable opportunity for the Sarthe plant, which produces not only individual portions but also large blocks for professional use.
There are also many foreign products and services that work better in Europe than in their country of origin.
Instead of pivoting, internationalize! Too many companies or start-ups pivot too quickly because their product doesn’t find a market in their country of origin, but sometimes instead of pivoting, they just test elsewhere.
But selling abroad isn’t something you can improvise. You need to be prepared and have thought about this strategy several months in advance. One of the easiest and most ROI-producing internationalization channels is Linkedin.
Let’s take the case we know best: MirrorProfiles. Before offering Linkedin US accounts for rent, we prepared the ground on Linkedin. But why this choice?
LinkedIn is the professional social network par excellence, 100% dedicated to the professional world and dedicated to connecting people within it.
- Multiple Features for Diverse Uses: LinkedIn offers an array of functions: it’s used to search for individuals and companies, reconnect with former colleagues or associates, and forge new relationships with influencers or prospects. For students and junior engineers, the platform proves particularly useful in the search for professional opportunities, given that many recruiters advertise their job offers there (81% according to a RégionsJob 2017 survey). What’s more, 75% of recruiters use this network to identify candidates, and 85% carry out online searches on them. In short, the whole pro world is on it.
- Information Watch and Job Search: Beyond the simple job search, LinkedIn is an essential tool for information watch, enabling you to anticipate future trends, monitor your professional environment, and identify innovative players and works in your field. Thanks to its news feed, the platform facilitates this watch, making it both fast and relevant.
- Optimize your Professional Online Presence: Even when you’re on a graduate internship or in a job, keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date is crucial to facilitating your future job search. It’s a good idea to keep your profile up to date right from your student years, so that you’re ready to actively seek out professional opportunities.
LinkedIn, like other social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), has its own codes and norms, often implicit.
There are various types of LinkedIn accounts, both free and paid, offering different functionalities. However, for a student or junior engineer, a free account is usually sufficient.
As on other platforms, each user has a profile, and you can connect and establish a “relationship” by sending a request to the person concerned (and receiving a positive response), or vice versa. Companies and organizations have a page you can “follow” without prior authorization.
LinkedIn operates on a “degree of relationship” logic, and you can interact with people according to their degree of connection with you. You can also see who has visited your profile and how many times your name has appeared in search results, unless you activate private mode.
Search on LinkedIn
LinkedIn offers numerous search options: by field of activity, type of page, job offers, or groups. You can also search by degree of relationship, location, current company, and more. Job search options are also varied, and you can create search alerts to stay informed of new opportunities.
In conclusion, because of the way it’s used and why LinkedIn exists, this channel should be the first to exploit when you want to internationalize your value proposition.
Making your Linkedin prospecting adaptable to different parts of the world is THE most ROI-effective way to internationalize your distribution channels. Here are the key points to remember:
- Linkedin’s networking capabilities enable you to find “early adopters” and gradually build up a solid network in an unfamiliar country.
- Linkedin has the monopoly, 90% of your targets are present there
- Internationalization can cost you little and bring you a lot. For tech products, AI can translate your site and tool in a matter of days.
In today’s interconnected world, where AI is breaking down language barriers, there’s absolutely no reason why even small companies shouldn’t look to internationalize quickly. One of our mistakes with Mirrorprofiles was that we waited too long, and today the US market is gradually accounting for over 40% of our users.
The challenges of internationalizing Linkedin prospecting
Although internationalization offers many advantages, it requires a well thought-out, well-structured strategy on the part of your company.
In my opinion, here are the three pillars you need to focus on before prospecting internationally:
- Your team: Make sure they’re ready to communicate and provide after-sales service in a foreign language. Tools such as Crisp and Deepl can facilitate this.
- International payment solution: To avoid accounting complications, opt for an international payment solution like Stripe, which we’ve identified as one of the best options.
- Marketing and business materials: make sure they are translated into English, without necessarily translating them into every language.
Then you’ll see! There’s no need to prepare everything in advance. Sell, prospect, and then manage deliveries.
The internationalization of your company, whatever its sector of activity and the method chosen (exporting, relocating, etc.), requires certain key steps to be taken to ensure the success of this important transition. However, keep in mind that to start internationalizing, you can (and should) skip some of these steps.
Step 1: Needs Assessment
Internationalization, a major project similar to restructuring, requires an in-depth audit of the company’s needs in this area. Think about the reasons, the target countries and the objectives to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. These answers will guide your strategy.
Step 2: Exploring the target market
The exploration of your international target market should include a detailed audit, encompassing the study of the competition, consumer habits, the employment market, and the cultural and linguistic aspects of the target country. This information will help you develop a customized strategy.
Stage 3: Strategy design
Each company needs to develop its own internationalization strategy, tailored to its specific needs and objectives. Your strategy needs to be holistic, encompassing not only marketing and finance, but also human resources, logistics, procurement and communications.
Step 4: Fine-tuning the details
Your strategy needs to be meticulously detailed, including technical aspects such as the IT tools and solutions required for day-to-day international management. The transformations required could be substantial.
It’s crucial not to prepare everything in advance. Future challenges will be more manageable once the first challenge has been validated: is there a market for your product in the target country?
As soon as the answer is yes, go for it. The cash surplus will enable you to make the necessary investments without imploding. In short, the challenges of internationalization can be summed up in one word: prospecting.
As you can see, internationalization (at least on paper) can take a long time. So start prospecting as soon as possible, otherwise you won’t be able to justify all the time you’ve spent upstream.
Once you’ve explored the opportunities offered by the internationalization of your product or service, prospecting is the real challenge to prepare for before you launch. However, behind the term “prospecting” lie various strategies and concepts. Let’s take a look at your options.
Solutions for effective international prospecting
Effective international prospecting may require different strategies from those you employ in your home country. The golden rule for any entrepreneur is to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Exploring Customer Acquisition Channels: Focus on Effective Paths
Navigating the immensity of digital marketing means anchoring your efforts where opportunities abound. Customer acquisition channels are fertile areas where brands can capture prospects’ attention. Let’s take a closer look at some of these channels, based on insights from Marketing Management.
- Mastering Content Marketing
Content marketing goes beyond simple storytelling; it asserts your expertise in a specific field and offers an alternative to paid content, which is often overlooked by 75% of Internet users. This cost-effective strategy has the potential to triple lead generation.
- Email marketing: a timeless classic
Email marketing, though traditional, remains a privileged channel for interacting with brands, bridging the gap between companies and consumers in an often cluttered digital space.
- Surfing the Waves of Social Networks
Social networks, with their ability to reach diverse audiences, are positioning themselves as an essential, adaptable and relevant acquisition channel, including in a B2B context.
- The Display: A Digital Signage Panel
Despite the challenges of engagement, display has evolved, thanks in particular to programmatic display, offering new ways of reaching audiences in a visual and dynamic way.
- Offline advertising: back to basics
Although its prevalence has declined, offline advertising retains relevance, especially when it resonates with an audience that values traditional methods of communication.
- SEO : Echo in the Digital World
By optimizing visibility on search engines, SEO builds a solid, expert brand image, while providing effective long-term leverage.
- Recommendation: The Power of Word of Mouth
Recommendation capitalizes on customer satisfaction, transforming a positive experience into an opportunity for new customer acquisition.
- Partnerships: forging strategic links
By exploiting synergies within your ecosystem, partnerships can not only bring in new business, but also accelerate the sales cycle.
- Diversification with Other Channels
Channels such as affiliation, influencers and communities offer additional avenues for reaching, engaging and converting prospects into customers.
The advantage of internationalization is that you don’t know anyone, so you have to make your own way. Advertising won’t do you any good until you’ve achieved a certain level of notoriety. The saying “Never be first, always second” is relevant here. The first company will spend a lot to popularize its product or service. Don’t make this mistake. Advertising will come once you’ve generated a profit.
In my opinion, these are the acquisition channels to set up, in chronological order:
- LinkedIn: Minimum 5 months before internationalization
- SEO: Minimum 3 months before internationalization
- Emailing: 1 month before internationalization
To illustrate, let’s take the example of my company: MirrorProfiles. We entered the US market in July 2023. Here’s what we did.
A quick reminder about our product: MirrorProfiles is a rental service for heated, secure LinkedIn accounts, ready to use for automation. If you’d like to find out more, read this article.
Between January and April 2023:
We have deployed 10 MirrorProfiles accounts in the following cities:
- New York: 3 accounts
- Washington: 2 accounts
- Atlanta: 2 accounts
- San Francisco: 2 accounts
- Los Angeles : 1 account
This gave us a strike force of 1,000 connection requests a week. We started inviting all French expatriates working in large companies, especially those with large numbers of sales people and recruiters, as well as all marketing agency managers (our “early adopters” in France). Note that there was no prospecting here. The aim was to expand our American network, following the idea of circles on LinkedIn.
The result in April 2023: we had more than 4,800 Americans in our first network circle, which brought us two key benefits:
- The ability to publish content that will be seen
- The ability to send them prospecting sequences on LinkedIn all at once.
Investment: 4480 euros
At the same time, we’ve translated all our existing blog posts for SEO purposes.
By April 2023, we had already made a dozen appointments in English. This enabled our team to get to grips with the sales pitch and adapt our presentations to their culture.
Investment: 0 euros
- Launch of prospecting messages on LinkedIn to the 4,800 Americans already in the network: 3 messages.
- Email loop to those who haven’t replied
LinkedIn response rate: 35% == 1680 responses
Mail response rate: 15% == 468 responses
These rates are twice as high as in France!
To answer all these questions, we’ve set up MirrorChat. A tool for centralizing the 10 LinkedIn messaging systems, equipped with response templates. Here, one of our team spent around 1 hour a day on MirrorChat. Without this tool, it would have taken him all day.
In one month, we generated 129 30-minute demos (our team was sweating) and closed 78 over June and July.
Investment: 2000 euros
Based on lessons learned from our demos and feedback from the field, we have adapted :
- Our prospecting messages
- Our blog posts
- Our cold emailing
Today, we prospect an average of 4,000 Americans a month on LinkedIn and 2,000 by email. We generate an average of fifty demos a month, with a 60% closing rate.
- Pre-internationalization investment: 6480 euros
- Sales generated: 23400 euros
- Pre-internationalization ROI: 3.6 (which will grow as our pricing is in the form of a monthly subscription)
- Monthly investment: 4480 euros
- Monthly ROI: 3.3
The main challenge encountered with this strategy was our ability to deliver accounts. We supply LinkedIn accounts that have been warmed up for 3 months and have more than 500 connections. This is an essential factor in guaranteeing account security.
With so many customers taking on average between 2 and 10 LinkedIn accounts, we had to set up a “waiting list”. However, with the money generated, we have tripled our production capacity, betting that these good statistics will continue. What’s more, with the profit generated, in addition to production, we were able to start SEA (advertising) as well as the deployment of an outsourced sales force but on site in New York. They know the codes better, and can therefore increase our probability of closing and, above all, the number of LinkedIn accounts rented (our average shopping basket).
Internationalization should be considered at an early stage, even for a fledgling company. The more digital your business, the easier it will be to internationalize. The key is to prepare your prospecting as early as possible, so as to generate income quickly. These will enable you to stabilize your growth and internationalization. If you don’t generate revenue quickly, this could indicate that the target country isn’t relevant at the moment. By following my method, you minimize your initial investment.
We are currently preparing to open up the Japanese and South American markets. Let me know if you’d like me to write an article about it.
For a better understanding of the acquisition loops I used, I invite you to consult the following two complementary articles: