You’ve heard me say this often. If your sales are down, it doesn’t mean everybody has stopped buying what you sell. Find a different channel, or different geography, and start selling there.
Enter Cecilia Panichelli, an American-educated MBA who returned to her native Argentina to hang out her shingle as a marketing consultant. Two things you should know about her. First, she punctuates this point with a perspective in this post few of us have (hint: Argentina’s economy is cruising along just fine). Second, she can help you launch your marketing effort down there. I asked her to share some thoughts with us. . .
Reporting from Buenos Aires – The Marketing Facilitator
Let’s face it, the American economy is still going to take some time to recover so we better have a Plan B. Some companies are lucky because they are in a category that grows at 30% per year. Take the case of sweet tea companies 5 years ago, all they needed to do was to get new products into the shelf and people were buying it. Plus, as sodas saw their shelf space threatened, they bought the ice tea category- smart guys. My point is, if you happen to be in that category, enjoy it; for everyone else “there is MasterCard.” Or, take this opportunity to expand your business strategy. Look for new markets to find new ways to utilize your infrastructure and leverage your image in different channels. If you are a bar-b-q sauce company that sells retail, try food service (Hamilton’s note: Cecilia did just that for an American company). If you sell nutritional bars, expand your channels of distribution. If you sell real estate try expanding to new countries.
Or try them all.
While the US market has been hit hard, some emerging economies are showing big opportunities for American businesses. Take the case of Starbucks, the coffee shop giant that faced slumping sales in the United States is expanding to Latin America. Ricardo Rico, Starbucks’ Latin American marketing director, said in an e-mail to Reuters: “Argentina, our latest market to enter in the region has one of the highest transaction levels anywhere in the Starbucks system.”
Argentina is the Southern country in Latin America and very well known for its meat, wine and women. Now, you probably didn’t know that they also produce all Spanish content for MTV Latin America and has a software and game industry that is booming. If you closely study the market, you quickly realize that from wellness programs to emerging powerhouse brands in the wine industry, you’ll find affluent customers and limited product offerings. Internet access in Argentina is the highest in all Latin America, and the country has a culture of early adapters with technology, which is making the interactive media marketing explode.
Most companies still don’t utilize their website to its full potential and there is a hype about social media but very few experts in the subject. Bottom line, try new emerging markets, it will challenge you today, but it will also give you a first entrant advantage in the future. Look at the big picture, where will economic growth come from next? Start small, one country at a time, so you can diversify your customer base, reduce risks and benefit from emerging markets growth in the future. Get someone that can help you go thru the ropes of marketing products in Argentina, today, technology allows us to be connected and make global transactions easier than ever. It is a new kind of world, start thinking about it and move fast or someone else will.