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NDTO News Article

Researching Your Way to Market Expansion

For any company growing and expanding into new markets, it can bring up all kinds of feelings from apprehension to zeal! The potential of new opportunities can bring about great new connections and increased success if done with intention.

To expand your business into new markets, we have put together a few items to keep in mind as you investigate future opportunities. Expansion can come in all shapes and sizes; maybe it adds another product line to your business or sells your products to a whole new country!

The First thing to consider when expanding into new markets is what you want to accomplish. Are you wanting to create a new type of product, get into a new or similar industry, or reach beyond your usual borders?  With these questions answered, development of an export plan can begin, and then move forward in exploration and research opportunities.

Research is the most important step in determining the next move for expansion. There are many services, data, and statistical analysis tools at little to no cost that might provide insights into initial market opportunities. The decisions here must be made with data in mind. Often, we want to find some untapped market or hidden gem that no one has discovered to help the company break out into unfathomable success. These dreams need to be supported by good solid research,  discipline, and reliable data.

Once there are some options for ideal markets or locations with good potential for your business to thrive, it is time to do a little more research. Narrow down your vision and get into the specifics of what products, ideas, or details are needed to succeed in one of those markets. Now, it might be the time to connect with a consultant or paid service to help define your market and vision that is right for your company. These types of services can have access to in-depth research, data, regional expertise, and experience to guide you into the future.

Harvard Business Review’s Growth Outside the Core recaps some of Nike’s efforts in business expansion through a variety of markets, with new customers, geographic, and products. “The first time Nike did this, it undoubtedly struggled with the inherent complexity of making so many moves, but as it repeated the process again and again, managers learned to execute consistently.” Not that all companies are Nike, but the process is much the same, looking at various angles and determining what may yield a successful outcome. Keep in mind that businesses are not successful on their first or even fifth attempt at market expansion, which is why the research is so important. In the Harvard Business Review study, there were more than 1800 companies reviewed for their expansion efforts over five years. The two things that all of them had in common were good foundational research and discipline to their mission.

Finding that new market is only half the battle as market expansion is two-sided. Now, convincing the new market that your company is a good fit,  is a whole other challenge. With this new market in mind, updates can be made to begin the courting process. It may be wise to work with a cultural consultant, the US Commercial Service, or website localization companies to assist with approaching this new market to make your business more attractive. Highlighting that you can do business with this market, translate your website or some pages into the preferred language, or showcase new services that are hand-selected to fit. Any effort made to feature the new market is going to show interest and readiness for expansion.

Discipline comes into play again, as the first attempts may be unsuccessful, keep researching, meeting contacts, and finding the sweet spot for your products. By jumping around from idea to idea and market to market, it becomes challenging to put down any roots and make a real impact.

There is an assortment of resources for you to explore as you start to develop a plan for expanding your business. A great place to start is for many North Dakota companies is Rural America’s Intelligence Service for Exporter (RAISE), as part of the US Commercial Service, this program works specifically with exporters to identify niche markets, export opportunities, and preparations for expansion.  There are many local development organizations in your area with resources for business growth. The NDTO also has years of exporting experience to help you with research, connections, translation services, and many opportunities for grant funding are available.

At the NDTO, we work side-by-side with companies to develop export plans, conduct research, potential buyers, and make market connections that work for you. There are also opportunities for trade missions (live and virtual), educational opportunities, network, and overall advocacy for exporters with membership.  Feel free to reach out at