If you’ve read our earlier article, Introducing OMIS—your global research network, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the ways in which OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) can help you as your business expands overseas.
To enable you to maximise the value you obtain from this service and to help you create a great partnership between yourselves, your International Trade Advisor (ITA) and your OMIS team, we’ve pulled together our top tips for getting the best out of OMIS.
Before diving headlong into internationalisation, it is imperative to develop a strategy. Whilst you may not need to document your strategy in a lengthy tome, you should at the very minium have some form of strategic framework—we certainly wouldn’t recommend playing pin the tail on the country!
- Develop an overall vision of where you want your business to be in the future
- Create a business strategy that will enable you to achieve this
- Develop an international strategy that is aligned with your business strategy
- Identify your target country or a shortlist of countries/regions
- Set aside a budget for your internationalisation—include the costs of OMIS, travel, accommodation, marketing collateral, legal advice and documentation, etc.
It’s pointless paying someone else to find out basic information that a couple of hours or a morning spent on Google could give you, so don’t be lazy! You’ll spend as much time explaining what you want to a market specialist as it will take you to complete a quick, broad sweep of the landscape yourself.
- Start by doing some basic online research
- Where possible, find out about the market structure, size and potential within your chosen country
- Try to establish a basic profile of your industry: Who will your competitors be? Who might you be able to partner with? What is your customer profile within that country?
- Conduct an initial search to uncover key political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental factors that might influence your business overseas
- Don’t forget to search for other UK companies that are already trading in your target country as you may be able to learn from their experiences and/or to partner with them
Choosing your OMIS package
Having completed your own online research, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how OMIS can help you and will be able to strategically tailor your OMIS package to meet your needs. It’s likely that the closer you are to entering your chosen market, the more practical the services you need will be.
- Mix and match OMIS services to select those that best meet your needs and requirements
- Use OMIS for ‘value added’ services (i.e. activities that you are unable to easily do yourself)
- For market research, choose between depth and breadth depending upon your current level of understanding—you’ll want to dive deeper into the market if you already understand the broad brush strokes than if you’ve had difficulty establishing basic information
- Tie any activities you ask for to your next planned steps—all services will be part of a bigger process
Creating a clear brief
A good brief is vital to maximising the value you receive from OMIS—when requesting OMIS services, you’ll be asked to complete a standard UKTI form, which should provide you with the structure you need. Remember, you’re engaging the services of someone who doesn’t yet know your business, who doesn’t know you and who certainly can’t read your mind, so the more information you can give them about your company and what you are looking for, the better.
- Clearly specify your objectives
- Ensure you have understood who will be carrying out your brief and write it accordingly
- Define key outcomes and findings that you require from OMIS
- A clear focused brief = clear focused research and services
- Double check that you and your market specialist have a mutually agreed understanding of the research and services to be carried out
Ongoing engagement with OMIS staff
Whilst written communications are great, verbal communication can’t be beaten. Ensure that you maintain contact with both your ITA and OMIS in the same way as you would to get the best out of your own staff and suppliers. Misunderstandings can happen, especially across international borders, and you’ll save a lot of time and hassle if you make sure that everyone is on the same page from the outset.
- Maintain personal involvement throughout the OMIS process―phone conversations are best
- Relationship is important to getting the right results
- Conduct regular health checks on your OMIS services
- Use milestones and due dates
- Ensure that you obtain sight of draft/initial research so that you can be involved in final revisions/tweaks
Final sign off on market research
Once you’ve received a completed OMIS report, check through it to ensure that it meets your stated brief—don’t just leave it in your inbox gathering dust! If anything is missing or does not meet your expectations, contact your market specialist as soon as possible—they will quickly move on to their next project and it will be easier for them to revise your report whilst it’s still fresh in their mind.
- Once the research has been completed, make sure that you sign off on your brief and that you’re happy it has been met
- Prior to sign off, ensure that you obtain any final amendments that you feel are needed
Using OMIS to conduct a market visit
If you’ve correctly specified your OMIS report, you should now have a strong list of potential customers and partners who you may wish to meet with. Before you dash out on the next plane however, it’s vital to ensure that you’re thoroughly prepared and that you’re making the most of the support that OMIS can give you.
- Let the OMIS staff know when you’d like to visit your chosen country and what you’ll be hoping to achieve―again, a clear brief ensures successful outcomes for all
- Check with your market specialist to ensure that your planned dates don’t coincide with any public holidays or national celebrations
- Where possible, give your OMIS team plenty of notice about your intentions―OMIS’ in-country support can be hugely valuable but if you leave it to the last minute to liaise with the team, it’s highly likely they’ll be unavailable due to other commitments
- Prioritise who you’d like to meet with and explain to your market specialist why you’ve made these choices so they can arrange your meeting schedule accordingly
- If you’d like a market briefing, cultural advice or explanations of business etiquette, specify this when you choose your OMIS package―alternatively, if a UKTI trade mission is arranged for your sector and chosen country, many of these services will often be included
Turning OMIS into action
It’s now your turn to act! The key to unlocking the value of OMIS services is to be a proactive partner throughout your internationalisation journey. Whilst OMIS can help you to lay all the right foundations, at the end of the day it’s up to you to promote your business, to make a great impression with the people you meet, to build lasting relationships and to follow-up effectively. OMIS can generate huge return on investment if you effectively play your part.