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Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 14-20

February 5, 2016

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By John Privette, SBDC regional director

“What is the foreign market potential for my product?” Dale, Cheyenne

If you are currently exporting or thinking of exporting, one of the first steps is to validate what foreign market offers the best opportunity for your product. Gathering and evaluating export statistics is a proactive approach. However, your business may already be exporting without conducting any market research; your company responded to an unsolicited order from a foreign buyer.

Many firms take a reactive market selection approach that is based on an unsolicited foreign order, a pattern of past export sales inquiries or how a competitor’s product is selling in a foreign market. This approach is appealing, for it is a relatively low-cost method in selecting a foreign market. A few reactive market selection approaches include:

-- Sales Leads -- Leads received from foreign markets generated through your firm’s domestic marketing efforts are excellent indicators. It’s important to focus on the trends such as what foreign countries are generating the most leads. The pattern is a good indicator to direct additional information-gathering efforts.

-- Domestic Trade Shows -- An industry-specific trade show is an excellent way to investigate foreign market potential. Many industry trade shows have foreign visitors or exhibitors. This forum allows you to talk to participants, visit booths of foreign firms offering similar or competing products, or participate in organized match-making events sponsored at the show.

-- Network with Industry Experts -- Develop contacts within your industry such as with publication editors and marketing directors of companies that sell similar products into the international market. These relationships developed over time can provide valuable insights into country, customer and market dynamics.

The task to gather and evaluate export statistics may seem daunting, but a proactive approach places a greater emphasis on your firm’s independent market potential analysis rather than placing total reliance on the accidental export sale, sales made by the competition or other reactive information-gathering approaches. Combining the benefits of reactive and proactive foreign market selection methods will better prepare your firm for exporting success.

The Wyoming Entrepreneur Small Business Development Center is available to assist your efforts to identify the best foreign market opportunity for your product. We have access to export statistical resources that can help your company screen potential foreign markets.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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