Premium Associate Member Spotlight: IBT Online
This article appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Whether you already have a customer base outside the U.S. or you’ve just started to consider doing business beyond U.S. borders, it’s important to think local about your global presence.
To help encourage and increase exports, Michigan State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP) funding supports export development for eligible small and medium-sized businesses through financial assistance grants for virtual and in-person trade missions, international sales trips and trade shows.
What is the best part about your job?
Speaking with our partners, prospects and clients on a daily basis.
The MI-STEP program, which is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), can also be used for website translation, localization and search engine optimization, covering up to 75 percent of the cost.
“Having a locally optimized web presence is crucial for manufacturers to increase sales, expand their distribution network and attract talent in foreign markets,” says Andrew Lawlor, Business Development Manager at IBT Online, a digital marketing and website management company that specializes in international business.
IBT Online has a formal partnership with MEDC and supports manufacturers looking to expand their digital footprint beyond U.S. borders. They have helped more than 500 companies enter more than 65 target markets and they have expertise in regulatory compliance changes and currency changes in those markets.
Lawlor says the MEDC is a great place to start for any manufacturer that wants to learn more about pursuing international business, and MI-STEP can be a significant benefit for small to mid-sized manufacturers looking to reinforce local sales efforts in other countries.
“They do market research and can recommend other markets that can be promising for manufacturers,” says Lawlor.
How does your company innovate?
We innovate by listening to our clients’ needs on how to leverage the online world. For example, demand for localized e-commerce websites for B2B exploded during the pandemic, as more and more manufacturers are looking to conduct business online. Therefore, we have now constructed a dedicated e-commerce program for companies looking to create international shopping carts for their top international markets.
With the current complications of international sales trips and the increased cost and logistic challenges of displaying your products at trade shows in other countries, developing localized websites optimized for foreign markets can be a much more effective and affordable solution.
“A local domain name is only the beginning, such as dot-ca, dot-mx or dot-de instead of dot-com,” says Lawlor. “And simply translating your text is not enough. Content needs to be relevant for local markets, and the content needs to be optimized to follow local browsing habits in other countries. There are a lot of cultural nuances that need to be taken into consideration.”
Increasing sales volume by expanding into other markets can provide a big boon for manufacturers. But potential customers and distribution partners in other countries may never see your U.S.-based website.
“That’s just the way the Internet works,” Lawlor says.
By helping businesses establish localized web presences in foreign markets, IBT Online puts a new spin on the old saying, “Think global. Act local.”
IBT Online is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since July 2021. Visit online: ibt.onl.