Christina Adams is the CEO of Antenna Social Media & Design, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Combining years of digital media immersion with new means of marketing, Antenna creates branded content for social media and websites for consumers worldwide. Antenna Social Media & Design is certified by WEConnect International.
After a discussion with a provincial government representative about trade missions a couple of years ago, Christina realized that she could service clients anywhere around the globe and that trade missions would be a great way to acquire international clients. Since then, Christina has attended four NLOWE-led trade missions.
Before committing to her first trade mission, Christina made sure that the location of the mission aligned with her company’s goals for growth. Because she was targeting businesses in the tourism sector, Christina chose Go for the Greens in Florida, 2014, as her first trade mission. The delegates and corporations attending the conference fit the targeted list of people Christina was looking to do business with.
Belonging to a trade mission delegation is a huge benefit to business owners looking to penetrate new markets. Christina notes that preparation for a trade mission is key. One preparatory activity Christina found particularly useful was a webinar hosted by the Consul General that provided information businesses need to know before entering a specific market.
NLOWE trade missions also present the opportunity to connect with a matchmaker. Working with a professional matchmaker is invaluable when a business enters a new market. A matchmaker is someone on the ground that works with you to identify key contacts in the market you are exploring and, most importantly, schedules meetings with these contacts, so that you can start building valuable relationships during the mission. Through trade mission matchmakers, Christina has had the opportunity to meet people she probably would not have discovered on her own.
That first trade mission in Florida was a powerful learning experience for Christina. After observing the conference as a delegate and attending the presentations and panels, Christina decided that the next time she attended a trade mission she wanted to be a speaker herself. Using the connections she made through previous trade missions, Christina went to work trying to obtain a speaking opportunity. She researched the market and the attendees of the conference, used her connections to find the right person to contact, and then presented a proposal with a customized presentation topic to the conference organizers. Using these tactics, Christina has since presented at a number of conferences, including the WEConnect International in Canada Conference in Toronto, Ontario; Go for the Greens in Orlando, Florida; and the Business Women in International Trade Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Depending on the type of trade mission and the nature of the market, it may not be so easy to obtain a business contract right away. A huge part of doing business outside of your domestic market is creating and fostering connections. Christina knows the importance of relationships in business, and spends time cultivating the connections she makes at trade missions. To make a lasting impression, she has invested in business cards that include her photograph. The business cards also mention her free monthly webinar series, which she uses as an opportunity to showcase her business expertise and to continue building relationships with the people she meets. Christina has attended a number of trade shows since her first in Florida in 2014, and often sees the same people over and over. The recurring exposure helps develop key business contacts and potential partnership opportunities. To follow up, Christina often conducts one-on-one Skype meetings.
After attending four trade missions, Christina has learned vital lessons—prepare well in advance and avoid doing things at the last minute. Trade missions require a lot of preparation: creating a capability statement (which may be distributed to interested parties a few months before you leave), researching the market, making sure your online content and marketing tactics are up to date, and figuring out your export strategy. Having all of these things done in advance allows you to focus on the opportunities that arise during the trade mission without the stress of feeling underprepared. Christina has also learned to research her competitors. Understanding how your competition is operating in the new market and identifying their market share will help you determine how to position your business once you enter the market.
For Christina, being in a trade mission delegation had been terrific for opening doors. By aligning yourself with an organization such as NLOWE and with the Canadian government, you can make connections that can take your business to places you might never have dreamed of.
Trade missions require a lot of work and a lot of preparation, but they can be extremely valuable for bringing your business into new, exciting, and dynamic markets. Check out the NLOWE website to keep on top of upcoming trade missions and to learn how we can help you prepare your business.