When doing research for an earlier blog mangoes and mango pulp, one thing became very obvious. Most of the sources of information about Pakistani exporters were coming from non-Pakistani websites. Do that exercise yourself. Google about Pakistani mango exporters and you will end up on websites most of which do not originate from Pakistan. Further several exporters are listed there but they don’t have their own website to describe themselves, their businesses and showcase their products and services effectively.
What does it mean?
We may have great goods and services to offer for export however we do not have a place, or enough places (websites) or established places (websites) to show case to same. International portals are good, they are helpful, they are well visited, they are well reputed, and they are known, and they also bring in business which is all good. However, they should be additional, not the only show cases. And, in all such cases there should always be a link provided pointing back to the producer’s/exporter’s own website.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong at all in utilizing well established sales and trade channels that help in anyway. But those channels should be supplementary, not the only channels. Selling our products and/or services ONLY from someone else’s store, without having our own identity (website) inadvertently communicates few things to our potential buyers, which unfortunately are mostly negative, such as:
- Products/services are of low quality
- Exporter does not have the confidence to self identify
- Exporter dos not a good reputation at home
- Exporter is not well informed
- Exporter does not want to inform its potential buyer details about its business
- Exporter’s country does not have established sales /marketing channels
None of the above may be true but the buyers don’t know that and, don’t not care either. By virtue of above even before sale, we are undermining our chances of sale and underselling our goods and services. No name products from no name stores do not earn any creditability, hence good prices. What reputation and reliability can an exporter expect who does not have its own store (website) coming from a country that does not have a well-established export infrastructure in place, or if it does even its own exporters do not trust to use the same. Buyer may still buy the products but will be looking for big discounts, and rightly so. Everyone bargains more with the roadside hawkers than established stores.
Experienced marketers know how important “placement” is. The better a company places its products/services the more it can demand. Further there is nothing such as enough marketing. No matter how much one markets there is always need for more, so nothing wrong in utilizing as many channels to showcase our products and services as possible. But “excluding” the home channel from above mix is critical, which does not go in our favour. Not that we do a good job of marketing anyways but we need to do better (https://letsdoitpakistan.pk/2020/01/29/produce-more-and-better-marketers-and-salespeople/).
We don’t have much time, as we are already very late in the game. On war footings, all exporters, trade associations, chambers of commerce and various government departments collectively all need to make concerted efforts. Task is to provide, maintain and update well presented and well promoted exporters portals or network of various portals that are connected to each other. So, importers all around the world can find and know more about Pakistani goods and services and contact them and do business with them with confidence. Also, where Pakistani exporters can profile themselves and present their offering effectively.
Even the longest journey starts with a first step. It may seem to be a big task, but nothing is complicated if broken down in smaller actionable steps and worked at methodically. All it takes are several simple and small steps by all involved, as under, and interestingly this is not very capital intensive also.
By the producers/exporters of goods and services:
- Use a brand name of your products
- Get a logo created for your products/services
- Use the branding/logo on all marketing material, if any
- Get a professional website created for your company/products/services
- Always ensure to keep your contact information updated
- Ensure to respond to all question/inquiries promptly, no matter how unimportant they look
- Get your company/products/services listed in as many Pakistani business/trade/export directories/portals as possible (few such links provided at the end)
- Get your company/products/services listed in as many international business/trade/export directories/portals as possible
- Ensure that all above listings include a link back to your website
By trade associations
- Encourage producers/exporters to get their websites made
- Assist producers/exporters in getting their websites made
- Create, if not there already exist, business/trade/export web portals to showcase products/services of their members
- Link their trade association’s web portals to bigger similar portals by regional and international relevant portals
- Link their trade association’s web portals with relevant export associations/bodies portals
By the government:
- Upgrade and maintain trade/export channels showcase web portals
- Help/guide trade associations in establishing/upgrading and maintaining their web portals
- Get the trade associations web portals linked to the bigger web portals
- Train Commercial; Counselors at embassies to promote and utilize the trade portals for export promotions (https://letsdoitpakistan.pk/2019/10/18/increasing-exports-what-is-missing/)
- Export promotion bureau to provide facilities for traders/exporters associations to link back to their business/trade/export web portals
Few useful links:
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July 12, 2020
The writer is a professional marketer and engineer with good work exposure to governments, and businesses and industries in the private sector in several countries. Idea is to take the first step in adding value to anything that one gets exposed to instead of just complaining about the same.