Expanding beyond your local market provides new growth opportunities. However, with such dreams comes a new consumer base, and new customers mean new strategies.

You may argue that you will not be marketing to another consumer type (i.e., your baby swaddles are still geared to moms). The consumer is simply in a different town, city, or province.

In a sense, you are right. Moms are moms and will share similarities with mothers across the globe. Nevertheless, a mom in South-Western Ontario versus a mom in Nova Scotia will have different ideas, interests, motivations, needs, and desires. Therefore, how you market to mothers locally shouldn’t be the same as you would market further afield.

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

There are many factors to consider before choosing which city or region to expand to; however, once you have pinpointed the viability or need for your product or service, keep in mind the following:

1. Do your research.

You’re not likely to pack your bags and fly to a random city or province knowing nothing about it, so why do that with your business? You’ll want to conduct thorough industry and market research first as there are many things to consider. Who is your local competition? How much of the market share do they currently have? What advertising mediums do consumers most respond to in that area?

Doing your research beforehand could save you problems later on. For instance, maybe you are entering an oversaturated market in your intended destination, or consumers don’t need what you are selling. You don’t want to invest in growing in an area with no use for your product or service.

2. Know the language.

Ensuring someone on your team is fluent in the language of the market you want to enter will be an asset (Mother tongue being ideal). There are nuances in language that you will miss using a tool like Google Translate (even though that has also come a long way). There is no shame in hiring a translator, especially in Canada, where we have two official languages – English and French.

You want your brand to fit in. No one wants to be labelled “the tourist” – kind of like when you travel. Spelling, grammar, and clarity are essential. Working through good copy takes time and money, and the last thing you want is your key offering to be lost in translation when you move into the Quebec market, for example. Ideally, you want your brand to resonate with your intended market. As such, the words and images that work in your local area may not work in the new market.

3. Know the culture.

Understanding the culture is just as important as knowing the language. Ensuring that your business is viewed positively within a particular culture is vital to success. Cultural biases or perceptions of your brand could ruin your expansion before you even get started.

Many people may think that one country means one culture. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Suppose you plan on moving outside of your city or province for a more national foothold. In that case, it is essential to understand the culture in each space you enter. Remember, Canada is a big place!

4. Know your brand.

Now that you’re familiar with the language, culture and market of where you plan to expand, you’ll want to perform a brand audit. This analysis of your brand’s current identity, messaging, customer service experience, and business goals will do three things:

  1. It will help you determine your brand’s strength in your current marketplace compared to the competition.
  2. The audit will help bring to light your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and whether you are ready to expand.
  3. It will also help you identify and adjust parts of your brand that may not work in the new location. In other words, you’ll want to look at all your marketing pieces like ads and brochures and make sure they will resonate with your new consumer base.

Remember, there is no such thing as one size fits all when you plan to expand beyond your current catchment area.