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How Online Marketing Can Help Defense Contractors Expand Overseas

Defense contractors who tailor their online presence for international buyers can develop more business in emerging markets.



A National Public Radio news story outlines two realities facing defense contractors:

  1. Defense spending is shrinking in developed countries where defense budgets have been largest, especially the U.S. and Western Europe.
  2. Defense spending in emerging markets is booming.

However, with overseas sales, defense contractors will face more competition than many have encountered in the past.

Defense Contractors See Their Futures In Developing WorldDefense manufacturers worldwide are facing tough times ahead, as tight budgets force Western governments to cut spending. But while the West is cutting back, developing countries around the world are spending more on defense - a lot more. Last fall, defense contractors warned of massive layoffs if the U.S.

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via Npr

With increased competition and lower awareness overseas, many defense contractors are challenged with getting known, liked and trusted by potential foreign customers. Of course, traditional business development tactics will remain important such as building international distribution channels and attending trade shows.

However, defense contractors who want to quickly scale their marketing and sales efforts internationally and cost effectively should establish a solid online marketing foundation.

At the heart of effective online marketing lies the development of buyer personas. Buyer personas are a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you sell. It also includes those people who influence a purchase.

Once buyer personas are in place, defense contractors can develop online content that is helpful and interesting for them. That website content, in the form of blogs, videos, whitepapers will draw the right people to a company's content to build awareness, trust and interest.

Defense contractors should set up their websites to address their buyers' needs and questions rather than talk about themselves. Your prospect is not as interested in your company as in what your company can do for them.

Leveraging online marketing for international business development can help open doors more quickly, but defense contractors should understand that there are some subtle but important things to keep in mind.

In a Mashable article, Erica Swallow outlines five tips for online international marketing:

  1. Start with Cross-Cultural Competency - Understanding the cultural assumptions and biases that you hold helps you identify cultural differences that may jeopardize business abroad.
  2. Understand Regional Laws - This applies to marketing messages and tactics, but more importantly for defense contractors, product development laws which vary by country.
  3. Customize Search Engine Marketing Based on Local Usage - International use of search engines vary, so determine which are favored in each country to be mindful of how to best rank on each one if different from Google, Yahoo and Bing. Additionally, make sure to localize your content, which is different from simply translating it. And include native keywords, as search terms are influenced by local culture.
  4. Optimize Site Design - Important considerations include the use of colors and symbols, use of text and loading speed (which can often be improved by using servers closer to your site visitor).
  5. Adapt Social Media for Various Languages - Social media is a powerful way to distribute your content and have it shared. As with a website, if the social media content is adapted for the local language, you'll have a competitive advantage.
Expanding your marketing efforts to an international audience can be a great opportunity to grow your company and reach potential customers that may not otherwise discover your brand, products or services. Reaching an international audience, though, entails understanding regional cultures, laws and online behaviors. Before kicking off your international digital marketing strategy, consider the following five tips on how to successfully market to an international audience.

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The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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