“It is critical that we help them adapt as much as possible to these new conditions to avoid losing current customers and to quickly return to pre-quarantine levels of activity,” he added.
WEB SITE STRATEGIES
Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, said the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the plans of many Alabama firms to expand their business internationally.
Commerce was forced to cancel 2020 trade missions planned for Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Caribbean and Russia. It had also geared up to help Alabama companies traveling to trade shows in foreign markets, but those events were also cancelled.
“We know this has been extremely challenging during this year with COVID 19 impacting travel, supply chains, causing shutdowns/closures and causing a lot of uncertainty for everyone,” Lockhart said.
“Because of COVID-19, we began looking for innovative ways to help companies across Alabama reach out to potential buyers and partners throughout the world,” she added.
IBT Online, which has created programs for other states, can help companies with website localization strategies that make their brands easy to find in target countries and facilitate business connections. (Click here to watch a video.)
“This seemed like to the optimum time to partner with IBT and bring this expertise and opportunity to Alabama companies,” Lockhart said. “Because of Covid-19, it’s now even more crucial for businesses to make their website an effective global business tool.”
HELP FOR BUSINESSES
Davies Hood, president of Birmingham-based Induron Protective Coatings, said his company has been working with IBT Online and is already seeing benefits from its “internationalization through localization” approach to marketing.
“Sometimes we tend to look at the world through the lens of our own culture, experience and/or preconceptions, so they have helped us take a more local, customer-focused approach,” Hood said.
“Their professionalism and politeness impress me, but I genuinely value their approach that is based more on systems and processes than more touchy-feely marketing approaches.”
Secretary Canfield said the Commerce team and the international trade group received financial resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP, to launch the Alabama Online Global Program.
Chris Wilder of SEPCO, an Alabaster-based maker of fluid sealing products, said STEP has benefited his company.
“The STEP grant program been a vital part of our global export growth strategy. We have used it for everything from market research, to trade mission prospecting,” Wilder said.
“Currently we are working with the program to further develop our international digital marketing assets. The STEP grant program is an excellent value,” he added.