The Importance of a Marketing Strategy in Exports (Opinion)

By Velile Dube

It is undeniable that marketing is the lifeblood of any successful organisation.

Seldom do poorly marketed firms outperform their well marketed counterparts, save for monopolies, otherwise one must effectively market themselves to make it in the local and foreign market.

By its textbook definition, marketing is the identification, anticipation and satisfaction of consumer wants and needs at a profit. in layman’s terms, identification is research, anticipation is production which is based on information from research and satisfaction is successful absorption of the researched production by the market. this principle is applicable domestically, regionally, and internationally.

Before one jumps on ZimTrade’s next Export Marketing Mission or visits an industry Trade show, it is imperative to consider five fundamentals that will help you prepare a powerful Export Plan.

Export marketing missions and trade shows/fairs are very useful ways of gaining market intelligence and can be a very smart investment if done properly.

Taking a structured approach to your export preparation and planning can help you extract even more value from your investment in activities such as export market missions, trade shows, and other export promotions.

Listed below are five key factors to consider when preparing an Effective Export Marketing Strategy. These factors are key to planning and decision-making before one transcends into the export realm:

1. Export Market Research and Selection

This is an area that is critical, yet often overlooked. deliberate export market research and information collection is the primary step to take when drafting your marketing plans for exports. 

The decision regarding which export market you launch in the first place is a very significant decision.

The critical decision of export market selection is based on initial contacts or sales enquiries and is rarely the outcome of a well-informed evaluation process.

Many businesses are compelled into export markets because of what they have heard from the grapevine or the little interaction they have had with one or two firms outside the country.

2. Export Market Brand Strategy

There is no question that all your strategic marketing planning and decision-making areas need to be re-visited for each export market that you enter. 

This does not always mean that the decisions and outcomes will be dramatically different (although often they are) but they really do need to be reviewed before you plough too far into a new market.

Brand strategy refers to the decisions associated with:

  • Specific market segments to target in your new export market
  • Desired brand positioning within your new export market
  • All the other brand specific planning and decision-making areas

3. Export Market Pricing and Trading Terms

Your pricing expectations and trading terms from new export markets are both very critical success factor for your exporting profitability.

For this reason, they must be considered up front.  Your initial market research and information collection should uncover the answers to important questions such as:

  • Regular and promotional price points
  • Specific trading terms and margin structures
  • Overall profitability

4. Export Sales and Distribution Strategies

Determining your ‘Route to Market’ is also a critical factor in your export marketing success.

Plans and decisions regarding your sales and distribution strategies will impact on your pricing and overall profitability. 

For these reasons they must be defined up front rather than decided ‘ad hoc’ after you have invested in launching in your selected export market.

Included in this area are important decisions such as:

  • Distributors versus brokers?
  • Which retail channels?
  • Other physical distribution considerations

5. Export Market Promotions Program

Giving thought to how you will support your brand within the new export market post launch is also a very important consideration up front.

Too many business operators have the belief that the hard work is over when they announce their new distribution arrangements. 

Experienced export marketers know that this is when the real work gets started.  Important activities to consider in this area include:

  • Supporting your channel partners
  • Building your brand in the new export marketplace

Other Exporting Considerations

Remember that we have only focused on Export Marketing in the above five points, however, there are plenty of other areas of your export journey to consider like operations, physical distribution and logistics, government legislation, culture of the people in the export market, currency issues and many other things one ought to get right for you to realise meaningful export success.

Your Export Marketing Plan

Your Export Marketing Plan document will have more headings than the five above and will be a more complex exercise. 

It is strongly recommend that you complete at least a top-line Export Marketing Plan before investing significant time and resources into your export activity.

However, the five planning and decision-making areas summarised above are a very good start for you to consider before you jump on a plan or start spending time and money on export activities. 

ZimTrade understands the challenges that potential exporters face when contemplating entering the export market, hence it has since created its flagship pre-export capacitation programme called Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness – MBIC.

This intense training package equips one with various and necessary skills to penetrate the market from identification of export opportunities, costing and pricing for exports, negotiation skills, branding and packaging for exports, differentiation and value proposition, market entry modes, grooming and deportment, foundations for export marketing, online and social media marketing competitive intelligence, handling logistics, effective participation at trade shows and how to craft an export marketing strategy.



188 Sam Nujoma Street Avondale Harare, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-4 369330-41, 263-867700074



48 Josiah Tongogara Street Btwn 3rd and 4th Avenue Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-9 66151, 62378, 263-8677000378


Subscribe to our Newsletter

This is a service of ZimTrade.