I don’t know about you, but I’ve tired of the ping-pong game of international trade, particularly between China and the U.S. If you read the news each day, it is like volleying a tennis ball back and forth, with no winner or end to the match in sight. Welcome to the world of international trade.
Yesterday’s headlines say tariffs are good, and the market goes up. Today’s headlines say China isn’t happy with trade negotiations, so the markets go down. Face it, nobody really knows the end game here, and how this will play out, and ultimately impact your small business. However, what you can do is take charge of the things you can control, and use them to market your business as being averse to slowing global markets.
Let’s first examine the causes of concern you may have with slowing global markets. Higher priced raw materials, such as aluminum and steel, can push up the cost of domestically produced goods. On the surface, that’s not a welcome change. Add in the fact that complicated trade relations are causing some countries to stop buying American altogether, and your business has a right to worry.
We’ve talked before about the short-term pain caused by such tariffs, but remember that entrepreneurs take advantage of problems and create solutions. If you are finding it difficult to sell abroad, bring back the made in America feeling, and sell domestically. Being a local business has a wide range of benefits that foreign companies will never have. Look at this list and do what you can to create growth during this slow period of trade.
Take Advantage of Shipping Times: If you have ever ordered anything for your business overseas, you know how lengthy and expensive it is to ship. The parts or products that you are buying are usually cheaper, hence the reason you are there, but are also usually of lesser quality. By marketing to your customer that “Made in the USA” also means a much faster delivery time, you are offering a valuable benefit that many are willing to pay a premium to experience. Look at the success that Amazon has had with its Prime Delivery Service. Emulate this to give your customers the “white glove” treatment, and they will surely buy again.
Local is good for the Community: If you have a business that caters to your local or regional area, make the most of it during down times in export volume. The economic term for the turn-over of money is “velocity.” Remind your customers that a dollar spent in the local community helps that local community many times more than the value of that dollar.
Emphasize Long Run Benefits: Global uncertainty, highlighted most recently with the ever-changing trade deals, will inevitably push people to buy at home. This is an excellent opportunity to explain to your customers that whatever happens on the world stage, will not negatively affect your business relationship. Also, if you are primarily an online business, be more cognizant of your U.S. customers and have a friendly call center based in the U.S. that is more likable than a foreign alternative.
Intellectual Property Protection: By gearing more or all of your product production back in the U.S., you could take a big step in protecting your IP rights. If manufacturing abroad, especially in China, you are trusting that nothing proprietary of yours is being taken. This is a big trust, and one the Trump administration says is being abused by the Chinese. It, of course, comes down to the cost-benefit analysis, but if you can produce in the U.S. and still have an acceptable margin, you should consider it.