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If you’ve seen my last post, there are in fact a whole host of ways to avoid playing ‘pin the tail on the country’! OMIS is one such resource.

What is OMIS?

If you haven’t heard of it before, OMIS stands for Overseas Market Introduction Service. Provided by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), OMIS allows businesses to access the services of UK trade teams located in British embassies, high commissions and consulates across the world. Having used OMIS ourselves for several international client projects, we’ve found it to be a hugely valuable service and would recommend it to anyone looking to break into a new overseas market.

Why do we recommend it?

Internationalisation can be a daunting task, especially when there are differences in time zones, languages and cultures. OMIS provides a wealth of practical support, advice and key market information, supporting you through each stage of your international journey.

Whilst we’d always encourage you to begin the process of market research for yourselves, international research can be difficult when you don’t have contacts ‘on the ground’ and the research information you are looking for is in another language—Babel Fish and Google Translate only go so far! OMIS teams can prove invaluable in finding the information you need and you’ll be amazed by the caché that contacting organisations through the British Embassy brings—it really can open doors that would otherwise remain closed. Imagine sitting at your desk in the UK and receiving a call from an international embassy—you would certainly provide a warmer reception than for a cold caller. The call would probably get past your secretary too! This works in the same way abroad.

When it comes to actually visiting an international market in person, OMIS can be on hand then too. Booking meetings for a market visit and sending marketing material abroad can be time-consuming and frustrating due to the added complexities of tracking down the correct address in another language, dealing with international postage, sourcing meeting venues, and ensuring that you don’t book two meetings at opposite ends of the country on the same day! Using OMIS’ market specialists removes considerable stress and hassle both during the organisation of your visit and once you’ve actually landed in the country. We’ve used this service before and wouldn’t consider organising a market visit any other way.

How can OMIS help me?

OMIS provides a broad range of activities, each of which can be tailored to your individual requirements. You might be looking for more indepth information on a particular market, interested in identifying a new business partner for your services or looking to launch your product abroad with a splash: OMIS can help in any or all of these situations.

To give you a better idea of the types of services you can purchase through OMIS, I’ve put together a list of example activities that OMIS can undertake for you below (the list isn’t exhaustive but it is relatively comprehensive):

Market research

  • Identification of market size, market potential and key trends within a marketplace
  • Provision of localised industry and sector advice
  • Analysis of possible routes to market
  • In-country competitor analysis
  • Assessment of the potential level of demand for your products or services
  • Identification of opportunities and prospects

Introductions and partner selection

  • Identification of possible business contacts and partners
  • Assessment of the level of interest displayed by potential partners
  • Background checks and partner references
  • Provision of marketing material to partners of interest (including provision of cover letters in the partner’s native language and personal follow-up once the material has been sent)
  • ‘Warming up’ of potential partners and contacts
  • Organisation of local market introductions (for example, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations and so on)

During your international visit

  • Organisation of meetings for your market visit
  • Provision of pre-visit briefings and one-to-one mentoring
  • Provision of local support to get you from meeting to meeting in an unfamiliar country
  • Provision of translation, cultural advice and explanations of business ettiquette during meetings
  • Organisation of a launch event hosted at the British embassy (with possible access to the British Ambassador or High Commissioner at the event)
  • Invitation of guests and organisation of bespoke receptions, meetings and seminars where you can personally present your product or service
  • Organisation of follow-up meetings and post-visit support

Sadly, not all activities are available in every overseas market as the activities are dependent upon the presence of UKTI market specialists within a given country, but where OMIS is available the market specialists are solely dedicated to supporting UK businesses (UKTI provides a full list of country specific information on their website—those countries marked in bold offer full local services).

What will it cost?

OMIS services start from around £225 and then vary in price depending upon your requirements, the level of support you are looking for and the country that you are looking to target. Overall, their prices are very competitive compared to commercial in-country support, especially when you consider the reduction of risk and the support apparatus around these services in the UK.

So what now?

Your first step is to get in touch with UKTI (look for your local contact by region) and to meet with an International Trade Adviser (ITA). Your ITA will become your key point of contact and will be able to offer additional advice on your internationalisation process. To enable you to access OMIS, your ITA will put you in touch with the right contacts, help you fill in the relevant paperwork and brief, and support you throughout the OMIS process.

Update 10 November 2011

If you have already started the OMIS process or are thinking about requesting their services, we’ve pulled together our top tips for getting the best out of OMIS in our latest article.

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