• Groundbreaking in new markets


    Awarded an MBE for services to industry and international trade in this year's New Year Honours List, Miller International's Sales & Marketing Director, JACQUI MILLER, talks to Long View about the challenges and opportunities of international trade and shares her top tips for success.

    What motivated Miller to break into new markets?


    The global financial crisis was a catalyst. The business, like many others, faced huge challenges – too many to list. When the initial fear subsided, it grew into something else: a passion to rebuild. So we looked at what opportunities were out there; what, in a shrinking market, were we able to hold on to, and where we should go to sell our services, our products and our talents.


    Western markets are established, mature, with lots of players – so, if we’re honest, they’re never going to set the world on fire. It was the East that presented opportunities. If you head East, if you take the technology and you deliver, you can really make the most of these opportunities.


    What are the rewards for breaking into new markets? 


    You can take everything you’ve learned and apply it to make a stronger business in new markets. If you see an opportunity, you can use your insight and experience to consider how it is likely to play out and how you can add value for best results.


    Our products have longevity and a track record and we’re also constantly innovating. Combine that with an Australian market, for example, where mining and construction are big growth areas and it’s an opportunity to excel.


    Global communications have made the world a small place, so the rewards really are there to be taken.


    And what about the challenges? 


    Not researching potential markets thoroughly can be a costly error. Culture and language are obvious challenges - China offers us huge potential, for example, but it’s a tough market to enter. The Indian market moves slowly and the value message is very difficult to deliver.


    Then the flip side of the growth in global communications and the world ‘shrinking’ is that businesses expect shorter response times. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, they expect an answer the next day. They’re prepared to allow you the time difference but that’s it. If you want to be considered, then you have to compete. If you stop to sneeze, you’ve lost.


    You also have to be mindful of guarding your competitive advantage. Businesses in the East learn quickly and you can be cut out of a deal very easily.


    How has Miller achieved success in emerging markets? 


    We’ve undertaken a global survey to identify gaps and establish what the market needs, and we’re working to meet those needs.


    China is potentially massive for us. To give an idea of scope, the UK construction excavator market is 4,500-5,000 unit sales per year, compared to 135,000-150,000 in China.  But we’re also very aware of the risks, so we’re cautious. We have a few people on the ground, we’ve done a couple of exhibitions and we’re developing a strategy to sell effectively into China. It’s a learning curve, but you need pioneers.


    What does receiving the MBE mean to you? 


    It’s recognition of my commitment to promoting Miller and the wider UK manufacturing sector, but it’s also recognition of the company’s strengths and the tenacity of the North East overall. It’s encouraging to see trade being prioritised. It really is a key strand of business growth.


    What tips would you give other businesses keen to embark on, or revitalise, their international trade strategies? 


    1. Don’t start on the adventure of exporting without doing your research. Don’t just look at reports and desk research – go and spend time in a potential market to really understand the people, the culture and the challenges.
    2. Use support networks – the CBI, UKTI, your bank and industry specific networks can all be invaluable.
    3. Understand your value proposition inside and out.
    4. Don’t enter markets half-heartedly – you’ll only get half a result.
    5. Protect your competitive advantage.
    6. Have a plan and know your limits. But don’t be afraid to adapt your plans if circumstances change. Forecasting and planning are guides, not set in stone.
    7. Consider the impact of culture, language and regulatory barriers on the development and profitability of business.
    8. Be prepared for long hours and lots of travel.
12/3/2020 6:44:22 AM