Booming: Television News Channels in India

News programmes have suddenly become hot property and are vying for attention with other popular programmes telecast in different channels. All major television broadcasters are including at least one news channel to their bouquet. The biggest headache for launching a satellite channel is programme software for round the clock. In this juncture, newsgathering is a major task for the 24-hour news channels. To cater this task, the emerging electronic channels have always made an attempt to cover all the incidents irrespective of position, location and time. These channels not only revolutionized the concept of news on Indian television but also changed the news formats. Before 1990s, Doordarshan had monopolized newscast on Indian television and also turned the news programs into a dowdy exercise. Now the private channels made the news an essential commodity like food, cloth and shelter. The strong point of all today’s news bulletins is their topicality, objectivity, glossy editing and high-quality visuals. News has traveled a long way from the DD era. From Local events to International events, breaking news to news analysis, television soap to page3 news, every happening comes under purview of news. In this article, we have covered some significant changes in news broadcasting in India before and after the Gulf War.

Indian Television – Flash Back

Television in India is undergoing significant changes in the current liberalized environment. To understand these changes, one needs to have some brief idea of the road covered by the television channels so far. The journey started as an experimental basis with a financial grant from UNESCO in 15th September 1959. The makeshift studio at Akashvani Bhavan in New Delhi was chosen for location of the experiment. The experiment started with one-hour program, broadcast twice a week, on community health, citizen rights, education and traffic sense etc. As far as news is concerned, it was launched exactly six years after the inception of television broadcasting. Daily one-hour program with a news bulletin was served to the Indian viewers. But one major drawback of television was that you could not enjoy the original colour of the objects because of black and white transmission. First multi-color programme was the Prime Minister’s address to the nation from Red Fort in Delhi on India’s 35th Independence Day. In the same day, DD National channel was launched. The aim of launching the National channel is nurturing national integration, and inculcating a sense of pride in Indians. Indian viewers also enjoyed the colored version of the Asian Games hosted by New Delhi in their drawing room. The coverage of major events and different occasions lend a big hand behind the infiltration of television signals to the nook and corners of the subcontinent. Indian Government had taken all possible steps to expand the television broadcasting demographically and geographically. In 1983 television signals were available to just 28% of the population, this had doubled by the end of 1985 and by 1990 over 90% of the population had access to television signals. In 1984, DD Metro channel was added to provide an exclusive entertainment for the urban viewers. In the beginning, this channel was confined to metropolitan cities.
As a public broadcaster, Doordarshan presented the news in naturalized manner. All controversial issues were pushed under the carpet. The ruling government had a strong hold on the television broadcasting. Doordarshan news bulletins were unable to provide the international news to the national viewers. Objectivity had been the first casualty as news was invariably slanted to suit the party in power. The news was liberated from the confines of the DD newsroom and gained in objectivity and credibility when New Delhi Television (NDTV) produced ‘The World This Week’ in 1988. Everyone was waiting for the Friday night to watch ‘The World This Week’. This was the only India-based programme, which looked out at the rest of the world. The World This Week was the best current affairs programme on the international scenario and carried good stuff of news, which the regular DD news was failed to carry out. This program is ranked as one of the country’s finest and most popular television shows. In 1989, NDTV produces India’s first live televised coverage of the country’s general elections. The critical and commercial success of the coverage sets a new standard for Indian television. After the Gulf War the media panorama has changed forever.

Golf War – The Catalyst

Post-1990 satellite television in India has become transnational in nature. It coincided with the entry of multinational companies in the Indian markets under the Government policy of privatization. International satellite television was introduced in India by CNN through its coverage of the Gulf War in 1991. In August 1991, Richard Li launched Star Plus, the first satellite channel beamed the signal to Indian subcontinent. Subhash Chandra’s Zee TV appeared in October 1992. It is India’s first privately owned Hindi channel to cater the interest of Indian viewers. This ignition followed by Sony and a little later by domestic channels such as Eenadu, Asianet and Sun TV. Entertainment programs had begun to occupy center stage in the organization’s programming strategies and advertising had come to be main source of funding. Doordarshan’s earlier mandate to aid in the process of social and economic development had clearly been diluted. Doordarshan had faced a stiff competition in news and public affairs programming with international channels like BBC and CNN. Doordarshan planned to sell some slots for news programme under sponsored category. In February 1995, NDTV becomes the country’s first private producer of the national news ‘News Tonight’, which aired on the country’s government-owned Doordarshan set a new landmark for Indian television because of its on-the-spot reporting with pertinent visuals. In the same year, TV Today Network occupied a 20 minutes slot in DD Metro channel and aired a Hindi and current affairs programme ‘Aaj Tak’. This programme became popular for its comprehensive coverage and unique style presentation by Late S. P. Singh. Still we remembered the sign-up message “Ye Thi Khabar Aaj Tak, Intizar. Kijiye Kal Tak”. Large number of viewers across India had been watching Aaj Tak as a daily habit because of its innovative style of news presentation. Besides that Nalini Singh’s five-minute fast paced, condensed daily news capsule Ankhon Dekhi, TV Today Network’s Business Aaj Tak and Newstrack was aired on the Metro channel of Doordarshan. This is the period when satellite channels concentrated on entertainment programmes for their respective channels. Doordarshan was still ruled the most wanted area ‘news’.

Major Players

Doordarshan’s monopoly was broken in 1992, when private television channels infiltrated into the Indian boundaries and entertain the viewers as much as possible. In the beginning of 1990s, the private channels offered only entertainment programmes. The entertainment programs include family drama, comedy serials, children programmes, cartoons, movies, talk shows, recipe shows, musical concerts, non-fiction programmes etc. Private entertainment channels added some infortainment programmes to their Fixed Point Charts (FPC). Keeping the demand of infotainment programmes in mind, the media houses started to produce news magazines, entertainment magazines and news programmes for different channels. India’s premier business and consumer news broadcaster and a leading media content provider, Television Eighteen India Limited (TV18) started India’s first ever entertainment magazine ‘The India Show’ on Star Plus in 1993. This emerging media powerhouse provided prime time television content to almost all leading satellite channels in India including BBC, Star Plus, Sony Entertainment Television, Zee, MTV and Discovery. After The India Show, TV18 produced a weekly business news program India Business Report for BBC World. Indian viewers had very limited options (like public service broadcaster Doordarshan, BBC and CNN) for watching the television news. For televised news, the viewers had to watch Dordarshan and some international news channels like BBC or CNN. In this race to provide more news, more information, Zee Television jumped into the battlefield by launching the news channel Zee News in 1995. This News and current affairs channel revolutionized the way news was delivered to the viewers. Since its inception Zee News has endeavoured to be the fastest to provide news, working towards a single goal of Sabse Pahle (Always First). The other round-the-clock news channel, the Murdoch-owned Star TV beamed its exclusively 24-hour news channels, Star News in 1998. Star made a contract of five year with Prannoy Roy-owned NDTV (New Delhi Television Company) to provide news content for this news channel.
The untiring exhaustive coverage of the Kargil war between India and Pakistan gained more publicity and attracted more viewers towards the electronic channel. This televised conflict also sets a news benchmark for wartime journalism. During the Kargil war, common citizens witnessed how their brave Jawans fought despite in hostile conditions and watched the war front live by the exclusively news channels, Star-TV and Zee-News. The live coverage of the battlefield helped to create a euphoria of patriotism among the Indian masses, which later facilitated into collecting huge funds for the welfare of the families of Kargil martyrs. Every news programme draws the attention of large number of viewers but Kargil war attracts private broadcasters to invest more money in the broadcasting business by launching a news channel. In November 1999, TV18 entered into a 49:51 joint venture with CNBC Asia to launch CNBC India. TV18 is the sole program provider to CNBC India, and produces 12 hours of local content per day on this 24-hour satellite channel.
After the huge success of news programme ‘Aaj Tak’, TV Today group launched a 24-hour Hindi news channel with the same name ‘Aaj Tak’, in December 2000, which covers India with insight, courage and plenty of local flavour. Within 11 months of its launch, Aaj Tak emerged as India’s number one news channel and was awarded Best News Channel award from Indian Television Academy Awards. Some mega events apart from regular interesting items (such as Kandhahar hijack, September 11 attacks, Afghanistan war, attack on Parliament, Iraq war, Godhra carnage and riots) have driven up the viewership. As time passed, NDTV’s five years contract with Star group for outsourcing of news and related programming expired on March 2003. With the expiry NDTV forayed into broadcasting business by simultaneously launching two 24-hour news channels; NDTV 24X7 – English news channel and NDTV India – Hindi news channel, which targets the Indian diaspora across the world. News crazy Indians received more news at faster speed from different channels. Any unusual happening can be caught by the television camera anywhere form Rastrapati Bhawan to bedroom. The power of TV journalism was become more visible by the major sting operations like Operation West End and Shakti Kapoor Case. This style of investigative journalism has brought about a change in the way we look at news, amidst new notions of editorial freedom. The world’s largest family ‘Sahara India Parivar’ launched a 24-hour national Hindi news channel, Sahara Samay, in March 28, 2003. It is the first ever city-centric satellite news channels covering 31 cities in India with their own city news bulletins. Keeping the demand of news in mind, the Union cabinet approved the proposal to convert the DD Metro to DD news in a meeting held on 3 October 2003. Consequent to these decisions, DD-News channel was launched on 3 November 2003. You might have noticed that the news channels are language specific. But DD’s news channel contains the round the clock news bulletins in Hindi/ English are also telecast twice a day on the National Network of DD National.
‘Aap Ki Adalat’ fame Rajat Sharma, Sohaib Ilyasi, the man behind the highly successful ‘India’s Most Wanted’ and Taun Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka roped together and launched a free-to-air Hindi news and current affairs channel India TV on May 20, 2004. Indian viewers had more expectations from this channel. The much-awaited news channel hopes to set itself apart from the existing ones by setting new benchmarks of responsible journalism. Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Rajat Sharma, chairman, India TV, said, “We aim to change the way broadcast news reporting is being conducted in the country. India TV will set new benchmarks by maintaining international standards of responsible and credible news reporting. We will stay away from graphic depictions of violence and sensationalism of news. We will uphold the viewer’s right to correct information and their right to truth and verity. India TV is not just a news channel, it is a movement.” NDTV as a pioneer in Indian television news, set to create a fresh revolution in high-quality business news with the launch of NDTV Profit. NDTV launched this 24-hour business channel on January 17th, 2005.
There is no saturation point in launching of news channel, just booming like sky as the limit. Entertainment channel to infotainment channel, infotainment channel to news channel, news channels to business channel and Business channel to lots more. Now the satellite channels become more topicality with international standard. When we are talking about topicality, CNBC TV18, the only business channel, continues to be the medium of choice for India’s decision makers, affluent audiences across the country since 1999. It has set the pace for the growth in number of television channels by launching a 24-hour consumer channel in Hindi called ‘ Awaaz’. This news channel focusses on empowering consumers on decision-making related to investment, saving and spending. All the programmes are catering to consumers across different walks of life, which included personal finance; variety of markets including commodity, stocks, savings etc.; small businesses; education & career guidance; and verticals like health, shopping etc.
Another news channel was finally launched into the already cluttered news space in Indian television. Jagran TV Pvt Limited’s news channel, Channel 7 up-linked to the air on 27 March 2005. The channel has been set up to cater to the vast Hindi-speaking audiences, already being targeted by a slew of news channels. Channel 7 developed every programme with a bid to cater to all types of audiences and not just pre-dominantly male audiences who get attracted towards news channels.

Regional Leaders

To cater the interest among the Indians, Doordarshan televises programmes in Hindi and associate Official languages. It has launched a number of Regional Language Satellite Channels (DD – 4 to DD – 11 and DD – 13) and telecast programmes in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Kashmiri, Oriya and Tamil. The Regional channels relayed by all terrestrial transmitters in the state and additional programmes in the Regional Language in prime time and non-prime time available only through cable operators. The Doordarshan regional satellite channels telecast major news programme with some entertainment programmes.
If you think about the private regional channels, they have followed the path of the Big brother (i.e Doordarshan). They are neither completely entertainment channel nor exclusively news channel. They are following the middle path and claiming themselves an infotainment channels. The private channels televise through the state dominant languages. Rising advertising revenues and increasing numbers of viewers have provided the impetus for many big players to enter into the business. Some regional media leaders like ETV, Sun TV, Asianet have a strong grip over the regional market. Some major players tried their luck in different states. Zee television has three regional channels; Zee Marathi, Zee Punjabi and Zee Bangla. Star Network entered into Tamilnadu by launching Star Vijay, one of the most popular entertainment channels in India broadcasting in Tamil. Besides that ETV Network is a part of the well-established Ramoji Group, has created 12 dedicated infotainment regional channels. ETV network is the source of rich entertainment of eight different languages. Those are: Telugu, Bangla, Marathi, Kannada, Oriya, Gujarati, Urdu; and Hindi to viewers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Every ETV Network channel focuses exclusively on its audience’s unique cultural identity, its aspirations and its distinct socio-political character. Let us think about the south Indian language Telugu, there are around twelve satellite channels are roaming around the sky with different taste and different flavour. These channels include three news channels, one song-based channels and rest are infotainment channels. When we confine ourselves into news, three channels (ETV2, TV 9 and Teja News) exclusively devoted to news programmes.
Sahara India Pariwar is proud to have five news channels as the bouquet of Sahara Samay. These channels are: Sahara Samay NCR, Sahara Samay Mumbai, Sahara Samay Bihar & Jharkhand, Sahara Samay Madhya Pradesh & Chattisgarh, and Sahara Samay Uttar Pradesh & Uttranchal. Sahara Samay has already managed to gain a loyal audience in India through a bouquet of National & Regional News Channels since its launch. These channels are youthful and vibrant channels targeting students and women, besides that hardcore news stuff. The regional news channels covers the entire spectrum of genre with specific programs on lifestyle, fashion, food, shopping, health and fitness, sports, education, career and city issues, besides giving user-friendly information on traffic updates, city events, train and air timings, etc. Now national news channels cannot confine its boundary to national level. They cannot ignore the regional news because of the stiff competition form the regional cannels. Regional news channels are entering into the competition with a strong will power and also with an aim to portrait regional issues in national and international level.

Conclusion

Now the television industry becomes more specific. In this competitive market, channels are targeting specific viewers. News channels attract more viewers beyond their target by producing interactive and interesting programmes. Every channel needs to do an extensive research on different concepts and different themes to attract more viewers and in the same time more advertisers. After all, advertisements are the bread and butter for the channels. With increased consumer preference for news programmes, television news channels have grown faster than other niche channels. News channels are booming just like sky as the limit. Those days are not far away, when we will get satellite news channel for every major city in India. Staying in abroad, we can update ourselves about all the happening of our hometown. Now news is not restricted to political happenings. It will be extended its limit to every unwanted and hided corners of the society. At last we can reach in the conclusion that anything, which is strange or disgusting, is news. There are no rigid rules, which defines news.

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What’s Missing in Your Indirect Channel?

Entering or expanding your presence in the Asia Pacific region invariably requires working with an indirect model engaging channel partners in one form or another, for all or part of your business. There have been many and varied ways of recruiting, enabling and managing your channel partners, just as many agreement types to work with, all well documented, all well researched. We have, over our years of experience, witnessed those that have worked, unfortunately many more that have not. After thirty odd years of business, many organizations in the IT sector continue to struggle with the complexities of an indirect route to market, nowhere more so than in Asia Pacific.

Of course there will be academic nomenclatures for some of the more common scenarios exhibited, however we have provided a slightly more descriptive categorization of those we come across commonly, all have something missing in the relationship.

“Dump and Run’ Model

Mr Vendor recruits Mr Channel Partner, seemingly with all the right criteria followed for selecting the perfect partner. The agreement is negotiated, the contract is signed, hand shakes and bows exchanged. Mr Vendor hands over a box of collateral, some CD’s and manuals, a help desk number, a web address and gets on the next plane returning home, heading straight for the fax machine to collect the flood of orders. Obviously a slight exaggeration, yet not an uncommon approach to partner recruitment.

Clearly partnerships require commitment from both parties. On one side the commitment to enable and transfer skills and knowledge, on the other a commitment to provide capable resources and focus, and a mutual commitment to agree a business plan, with continued review and measurement.

“Show Me Yours First – Stand Off” Model

These agreements take a form where Mr Vendor won’t provide anything or make any significant commitments until Mr Channel Partner first shows some commitment to the ’cause’, maybe hiring dedicated staff, allocating marketing budget or opening the ‘kimono’ up to the customer list.

Mr Channel Partner on the other hand hesitates to provide or commit precious funds and resources until Mr Vendor shows an active desire to support through supplying qualified leads, committing to free training or allocating resources to work with Mr Channels Partner resources. After a time with each waiting for the other to make the first move and not living up to expectations, little if any business is written and the partnership fades with both parties moving on to other pastures.

‘Indirect Is Cheaper’ Model

Many unfortunately still look to the indirect channel model as a free or cheap entry into a market with an expectation of huge success. The indirect model in any of its forms requires discounts, infrastructure and support, by implication there is a cost to this. It should NEVER be considered free.

What should be expected from any indirect channel model is a broader reach into previously unavailable markets with access to domain expertise and or regional experience at a better return for each dollar of outlay. Straight forward, right? Not for all unfortunately.

One all too common example is relatively successful and established organizations making the decision to change to the ‘cheap’ indirect model, significantly downsizing or closing local operations, not implementing a channel enablement and support infrastructure, nor managing the customer expectations. The expectation being revenue and maintenance renewals will continue and grow and the partners would carry on business as usual. The results, not surprisingly, are usually massive drops in revenue, defection of customers, partner dissatisfaction, low staff morale and competitor successes.

‘The Silver Bullet’ Model

Many organizations enter a market such as Asia Pacific looking for the ‘silver bullet’ channel partner, the one that has the contacts, the relationships, technical and sales skills, support infrastructure to sell and support their products – the obvious choice for the desired market segment. Of course this is the perfect scenario. What is often missed is that these channel partners (likely larger organizations) will have a sales force paid on gross profit, already committed to selling known products from multiple vendors with targets like any other sales force.

Ask yourself the question: Will a salesperson focus on a new, unknown, difficult to sell product with a slightly higher margin or will they go and achieve their quota with what they know and what is currently selling, even though the margin may be slightly lower?

‘Committed Start-Up’ Model

Relative to the above, seemingly a reasonable approach. Mr Start Up Partner will be keen to prove themselves, hungry for revenue, eager to impress, often with a specific domain expertise and driven to build their business. Everything that one could want in a sales force. Sometimes. What about resource availability and quality? What about scalability? Smaller organizations will be juggling issues like cash-flow, breadth of relationships, depth of contacts? Again, there are numerous examples of these well intentioned ‘partnerships gone wrong’.

‘You Need Us More Than We Need You’ Model

Typically either Mr Vendor or Mr Channel Partner are a recognized brand in their specific market, sometimes even both. The one more recognized in the market to which the other wants access plays hard ball, or more often, an individual charged with the relationship, suddenly wants to show their value and plays hard ball. A relationship built on animosity from the outset, destined for the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ pile. These relationships do have much to offer when executed correctly but can be difficult to manage or negotiate if either party believes they are in the dominant position with little to gain.

If all of these scenarios sound unfamiliar … then credit to your channel people, they should be rewarded handsomely as your channel is most likely working well for you, with mutual benefit.

But if any sound a little too familiar then … the big question! “What IS missing in my indirect channel?”

It’s not difficult to search out the plethora of material on the ‘6 things’ or maybe even ’12 things’ you must do to make a channel partnerships work. Or, on how to select your channel partners with what criteria etc. All these will have valid guidelines, all will have important aspects you should take note of and incorporate in your channel approach. Most will highlight aspects of company alignment, market segmentation, sales processes, clear rules of engagement and documentation of mutual expectations combined with constant, open communications, some identify a need to support your channel partner through resources and infrastructure, even funding of direct sales support during the enablement stage. All of which is correct and important.

Personally I like to boil things down to their simplest level, a common denominator or two. In this instance there is a fundamental state of mind that determines whether the partnership will succeed or fail, the one thing in the scenarios above that is missing.

A level of desire and ability to INVEST.

Each of the scenarios fail due to a lack of investment and we are not talking only of financial investment. We are talking about investment in all its forms – time, resources, focus, commitment and financial.

The ‘dump and run’ model lacks investment in support and commitment; ‘show me yours first’ lacks investment in the relationship and building trust; ‘indirect is cheaper’ lacks investment in many areas and so on. I’m sure you get the point.

Think of it this way, you would not expect your bank to pay you a dividend or interest income if you have zero dollars invested in your account. So it is amusing and somewhat worrying when speaking with seasoned and generally successful executives who seek to expand into Asia Pacific, actively avoiding investment in their channel development, yet they maintain high expectations of results. This is no more important than in Asia Pacific, a region accepted as requiring a strong indirect channel strategy to succeed, built on commitment, relationships and mutual trust.

The summary

The key to a successful channel partner strategy and in turn a business that will grow and gain strength year on year is simply, a commitment to invest appropriately based on the returns required and expected. Namely in the areas of:

o Understanding the market through research and segmentation.

o Partner selection and due diligence.

o Partner enablement (resource allocation & execution support).

o Support infrastructure and partner management.

o Communication, relationship and trust building.

o Regular and focused reviews.

Like all good things, successful, mutually beneficial relationships require commitment, focus and effort – there are no short cuts, there is no money for nothing. Your outcomes, returns and profit is directly proportional to your desire and ability to invest in your channels.

Developing New Overseas Channels For Your Export Business? – A Project Based Approach!

Has your business revenue and growth rate reached a plateau in the USA and/or Europe? Is organic growth simply not going to take your company to the size that your investors need it to be? Many companies face this challenge but do not have the financial wherewithal to grow by merger and acquisition. The challenge is to move into new and relatively untapped markets, these are very often found outside the boundaries of the home market and the need to look overseas is glaringly obvious. Yet it is not so simple as it may first sound! You might know which of your products you want to export but do you know which country to start with, is it Japan or Korea or China or India or even smaller countries such as Singapore or Taiwan or Australia and it simply is not practical to cover them all. This is without even asking questions such as what mods will need to be done to the product and packaging, what export terms do we use, how will we get paid, what taxes are imposed, what transfer pricing will be required, what warranties will be obligatory, will we need local staff etc. etc. etc.

Then there is the question “who can we get to handle this?” Joe always takes his vacation in someplace like Bangkok or Beijing so he is probably a good candidate! The bottom line is would you take Joe, a Detroit automotive sales manager and ask him to go and close business in Korea or take Pete, a London IT sales manager and send him to set up distributors in China? Of course you wouldn’t but the reality is that this is exactly what companies are doing – they are expecting their good people to manage setting up overseas business in the same manner as if it were their home based business. Believe me it is a world apart and I don’t just mean geographically – it’s culturally and business practice wise so varied from country to country and that doesn’t even touch on the language issues.

So many companies have failed miserably when trying to set up their international business channels. A company would never think twice about creating a new production line without a project manager and a well structured project plan, even firms fitting new kitchens these days offer a project manager so why would you approach such a critical process of growing your global business on an ad-hoc basis? Would you appoint an IT project manager to manage the build of a water treatment plant or a project manager of a washing machine plant to build aerospace engines – No!  So why do so many companies believe they can succeed in international markets by using an American or European centric resource? This is an international sales and marketing task where the markets are very different than that of the American or European so doesn’t it make sense to use an appropriate resource? Think of this venture like a project and think of your International manager like you would a project manager – they have a difficult task to accomplish and need to approach it professionally, you need a lead person who has the skills and experience of not just managing overseas agents but a hunter that has worked the territories before, knows the trail and can sniff out the right targets. He needs to understand how overseas channel partners think, what drives them and turns them on and to be able to empathize with them.

I remember when I worked for a data communications company, we were doing quite well throughout the APAC region via our existing agents and distribution channels but we needed an order of magnitude increase to grow the company to the next level. I approached the International VP and told him that I needed to remove myself from the international channel management role and focus on a new growth strategy. I planned, managed and focused my effort and channeled all my energies into striking up an OEM deal with one of Japan’s largest companies. Because of the strategic and planned approach and with good tactical positioning I was able to secure the deal which yielded an enormous increase to our Far East revenues and ultimately had a huge impact on the share price of the company as a whole. Of course it left me with another problem and that was I had to source manufacturing for this scale of volume in Asia and to negotiate with the Taiwanese to get this up to speed asap, but it was a nice problem to have. The message here is that I managed the task like a project, I had the connections in Japan, knew how to deal with the Japanese from my past channel role and did not try to shoehorn it in with my day to day job of managing the existing partners.

Yet it is not only the key individual that makes it a success. Like all successful projects they start with capturing the requirements and creating a requirements specification, defining a solution, building a solution, trials and tests and rollout. It  has a timeline, budget and cash flow. The foregoing tasks can be translated into Discovery – in brief the establishing of the products or services that can be effectively and profitably introduced to the overseas market, a readiness to export survey, reviewing agreements and having a market plan, what costs will be required, will technical support be needed out in territory and how much and for how long etc. Research – What channel structure is best suited to your portfolio, which locations are lucrative and compatible, market size and acceptability, how do your competitors operate, attending trade fairs and exhibitions to glean local knowledge and so on. Engage – striking up discussions, working contacts, meeting players, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, what investment they will make, selecting the right channel, have them test trial your products, come up with a local rollout marketing plan etc. Administer – monitor the whole process with cross checks to the original requirement and refinements. Manage – ensure the process is running to time and budget, communicate with other internal stakeholders, make sure the introduction of your product to the local market is going as planned. Only then will you Succeed. Think of this as your international DREAMS model approach and conduct it like you would any other project.

You might have read all this and be thinking yeah it all makes sense but our organization simply doesn’t have the manpower to spare to focus in this depth and detail, we will just have to use our existing resource that manages the region. Well that’s your decision but you might want to look at external resources that specialize in this sort of business, have done it successfully many times before and can work alongside your existing team without you losing control. There are pros out there that will act as an extension of yours, even carry your business cards and act on your behalf and when the job is done they will hand off to your existing management team. You are now thinking OK but that will cost me lots of extra money over and above my current budget, well there may be a small extra charge but there are those that will take the bulk of their reward out of the initial sales that are delivered from the new channels and this makes it a win / win business proposition. If you do look externally make sure you look at those that can provide you with an end to end service and approach it in a methodical and structured manner. Look at Expand Internationally as a starter.