How To Export To Poland
Tips and hints on how to export to Poland and sell your products in Poland.
Aside from some cultural differences, exporting to and selling products in Eastern Europe is no different than selling them in your own country.
All you have to do is follow the basic rules of starting up and running any business. You need a plan, you have to invest something and you have to follow the plan. You are going to have to create an image, a reputation, advertise, and provide catalogs and samples. You are going to have to create personal relationships. But in making your plan you must realize that there are some critical differences.
Do not assume that everything that works in your country will work globally. You have to learn about the customs, likes and dislikes, business practices and regulations of your target country. You must develop your marketing plan from scratch for each country that you intend to approach. And regardless of how successful you have been in other countries, to avoid unpleasant surprises it is best to consult export marketing experts with in-country experience.
Many companies assume that making a mirror site and multiple language versions of their web site is the path to global success. Unfortunately such an assumption ignores the importance of local differences.
Consider, for example, Europe. There may be a European Union with a single European currency but there is no European market. Europe is a single continent occupied by multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious groups that are all proud of their unique history and heritage. Though groups tend to be gathered within distinct country borders, there are often many groups within a single country. Each group has its own identity and must be approached differently
Always understand that the key to going global is to go local. So if you are considering entering the Polish market, you must create a plan that is localized to Poland.
Business in Poland is based on personal relationships. You are going to have to have someone local represent you. So your goal should be to get an agent on the ground in Poland. That agent does not have to be Polish. It just has to know the Polish business practices and how to deal with the Polish culture.
The internet gives you many opportunities to find that local agent that did not exist in earlier years. But it did not create any new economy. It has just given you a new tool to use and given you the ability to enter markets that you once would not have considered.
I think of the internet as a new fishing rod. This new fishing rod allows me to cast my lure a lot farther and a lot more accurately. I can put my bait in front of fish that I would have missed before. And it is a lot less expensive than other fishing rods that I have used in the past.
But all the equipment that I use to go fishing, my big car and trailer, my big boat, my electronic equipment and fancy motors are not important to Mr. Fish. All he sees is the bait. If I don't put the right bait in front of him, in the right way and at the right time, he is not going to bite. If I don't adjust my presentation to his surroundings, he will ignore me.
So regardless of how big is your factory, how big are your sales and how good is your product, unless you present yourself in the right way, I will ignore you and so will the other 38 million people in Poland.
The internet has neither created a new economy nor a new way of doing business. The proponents of the new internet economy preached everything free, automated ordering, elimination of the middlemen and more. The people who tried to build the new internet economy are either bankrupt or scrambling to develop traditional business models.
Business will always be done the same way. You must create personal relationships, create trust, provide personal service, advertise, deliver on your promises, etc. etc. . That costs time and money. And because you are using the internet, do not expect that people are going to give you everything free. If you want new customers, you have to earn them.
In any business plan you know that you have to consider how you package your product, how you present yourself, and how you service your customers. Now when entering the Polish market you have to package your product, your image and your service in a way that suits the Polish culture and Polish business practices. And if you are going to enter the Russian market, you have to adapt to the Russian way.
You have to present a good product and a good image. Start by presenting a good image. Join a chamber of commerce. Put up a Polish web page. Respect the pride of the Polish people. Sponsor an event. Remember that you can never create a second first impression. Do it right the first time. You will not get a second chance.
You will be working cross culture so it is important to know what not to do. In another part of this web site is information on what not to do. Be sure to read it sometime. But for now, let's talk about what to do.
Start by determining what you want to sell and package it in Polish. Polish people are very proud of their language and expect you to use it. Even if they speak English, they want to do business in Polish. Many times foreign people say that they want to do business with English speakers only and for that reason they don't want to put their materials in Polish. In Poland that is considered cultural arrogance and an ethnic insult.
How strong is this feeling? Very.
A smart business executive knows that before coming to Poland he should have business cards written in Polish. When you are here, your business card is often your first presentation piece and the one that the people keep the longest time after you leave. Print your business cards on two sides; one in Polish and the other in the language of your choice. Some people use an English side for contact information and a Polish side for a little more descriptive information. People who do not understand your language can get an immediate brief introduction of you and your company in Polish.
You don't have to put everything in Polish. Just put up enough in Polish so that Polish people see that you are taking some interest in them. Show that you are interested in them and they will be interested in you.
And then have a small presentation piece about your company; in Polish. One or two pages, printed on black and white, telling who you are, etc is a great thing to give everyone at the table.
And if you are using the internet, do the same thing. Don't translate your entire web site. Just put up some basic information to get someone's attention. Add an electronic business card in Polish.
If you have catalogs, at least give a Polish addendum with prices and descriptions in Polish. You will create excellent relationships.
Electronic catalogs are easily made up for many languages. Just make a picture gallery and link to simple text pages in many languages. Don't make it fancy. Let your main site be the place for all the trivia. Just make the important working material available in the local language.
For now let me assume that you have a product package made up in Polish. Now how do you tell people about it? The answer is - the same way you do in your own country. You advertise. You call people. You send letters to qualified candidates. You visit people.
But you can't do it effectively from where you are. So you find an agent in Poland to do it for you.
And how do you find an agent? The same way you do in your own country. You advertise. You use a recruiting agency. You contact existing agencies. You post in job boards.
Advertising in Polish newspapers is one very effective approach. Good advertising campaigns consist of small advertisements run often. Advertise for customers and agents. In all cases include a reference back to your Polish internet site.
On line advertising is inexpensive, long lasting and effective. Post small Polish language, on line classified advertisements in selected locations. Add your company information, in Polish, to the Polish search engines.
Use a few techniques to increase response. Include a local Polish fax number and ask for resumes. Offer a base salary to the right candidate. Offer travel and bonus incentives. Target people from your own country who have businesses in Poland.
There are many existing trade companies in Poland. Your advertising will eventually get their attention. Additionally you should consider sending personalized mail directly to the company. Invest in a verified list of candidate companies and send a personal letter with your Polish language offer to the marketing director. (It is better to use regular mail than email for the introduction.) Then follow up the letter with a phone call.
Now I am not going to bore you with a lot more material. So here are just a few more hints.
Don't ignore recruiting agencies. There are some very good international recruiting agencies in Poland and most people here will tell you that their fees are worth paying.
Post in the Polish internet job boards. They get a lot of attention. You must of course post in Polish.