All too often, French SMEs are not sufficiently present in the EU’s economic area, whether in terms of business opportunities for their products, or the search for suppliers and subcontractors. Such are the findings of a white paper produced by the SVP group on the internationalisation of French SMEs, along with other advice on how to achieve international success. Read on…
The EU zone: a growth lever. In a French white paper entitled “Comment réussir le développement de ses activités à l’international?” (“How to successfully develop your international activities?”), SVP‘s experts observe that the share of French exports for goods and services in the Euro zone fell back from an average 17% in 1999 to 12.8% in 2013. This underscores the fact that, despite having their rightful place, French SMEs have failed to fully exploit the EU’s enlargement. This raises a simple question: if a flight from Paris to Budapest costs less than a train ticket from Paris to Limoges, what’s to stop French businesses from doing a quick store-check on the shelves of retail outlets in the Hungarian capital to see for themselves the state of the low cost market?
Capitalising on lower production costs. French SMEs also tend to forget that labour costs are often lower in certain EU countries. In the Czech Republic, for example, where wage levels are lower than in France, subcontracting part of a business’s production can prove to be particularly worthwhile with a view to lowering wage costs. In fact, European countries offer a host of possibilities for becoming – or staying – competitive. Another factor to be considered is the swift shipment of goods within the EU. Hence the importance of looking for suppliers or subcontractors elsewhere in Europe. Europages can help you do just that with its search engine, structured by industry sector, and available in 26 languages.
Five new Ps. To further support a company’s international success, SVP’s experts suggest 5 new Ps, in addition to the traditional “4Ps of Marketing”, namely Product, Price, Promotion, Place. They are:
– Payment and financing: personalising your company’s financial offer with special payment facilities or supplier credit. This is what German SMEs do.
– Paper burden: the idea is to adapt the paper burden (i.e. red tape) involved in international business operations to each customer. This starts with the general terms of sale.
– Practices on target markets: your company will have to take account of consumption habits, the ways in which a product or service are used, and the cultural traditions that exist on a foreign market.
– Protection of intellectual property: given that market share is very difficult to gain, companies must do all they can to safeguard their existing share, and to ensure that it is not taken away from them by counterfeit products.
– Perception of the company: the last P concerns the way in which the company is perceived by its various international markets. This too infers adapting the company’s communication accordingly in each targeted country.
Online visibility. Buyers in the EU use the Internet extensively to identify potential suppliers. Increasing your online visibility is one of the keys to developing your business in Europe. Consequently, having a multilingual website represents a very considerable competitive advantage (see our article on translation). If your company website is only identifiable in your own language, register your company with Europages to benefit from its very wide European audience of BtoB professionals.