BUTH BHEAG CANDLE CO, ISLE OF HARRIS
If you’re thinking about trading overseas, a market visit is a great way to meet other exporters and get to know the market you want to enter.
Jamie McGowan of the family-owned Buth Bheag Candle Co, based in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, took part in a market visit to Ireland which coincided with St Andrew's Day last year.
Here are Jamie's top tips to help you make the most of the experience:
Prepare - before you go
- Research into what your competitors are doing in the country you’re visiting - could you do it differently and make a different statement?
- Make full use of the local Embassy contacts; work with them to set up appointments, so they can help you develop strong links into the market.
- Check the cost-effectiveness/feasibility of shipping; made sure your product and packaging are compatible with market opportunities.
- Learn the geography of the city - know where you’re going for appointments, plan your route and method of transport; allow for factors such as time of day, rush-hour, anything that could impact on your journey time.
- Keep track of your appointments schedule. Be punctual - you have one shot at meeting new business contacts on a one-to-one basis, and they are making time to meet you.
- Prior to events and meetings, work out your elevator pitch - a 60-second descriptor of your business and product - you need strong, structured content with a beginning, middle and end - you can’t just ramble at people.
- Collaborate - at these events, you don’t just meet prospects from one country, you also meet other excellent Scottish businesses and you can help each other make introductions and get in touch with new prospects.
Follow up - when you get back
- Social media is a good way to keep in touch with companies on your return; it’s not too overpowering, and also gives you the chance to build the collaborative process, promote them to your contacts and share what they do. There’s a fine line between nurturing a new contact and being too pushy with them.
- After a few weeks, you can make personal contact and continue to develop the relationship towards securing defined business objectives.
Thanks to networking opportunities at last year’s Ireland market visit, Buth Bheag made three important contacts that will help develop its international profile. The business is already supplying candles to an online retailer based in Ireland, and has made a connection with a store in North Carolina who would like to stock their candles. Buth Bheag is also exploring a possible opportunity to supply a range of candles to an Irish florist chain.
Jamie at Buth Bheag is very grateful to SDI and HIE for the learning experience and opportunity to network presented by the Ireland market visit, and would encourage other businesses making the move into exporting to contact the HIE Export Advisory Service.