Friday, September 14, 2012

"Bringing the World to YOU!" Success

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Company meetings
Posted by Tina

Our 14th annual "Bringing the World to YOU!"event was held on September 13th and the Holiday Inn in Grantville.  This is the day that we host representatives from Pennsylvania's overseas trade offices and offer regional companies the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the State's trade reps. We look forward to this event each year, even though it involves a lot of pre-event planning and post-event follow up and at times resembles speed-dating, we always enjoy this day!   Pennsylvania's trade reps are a great group of individuals and they are a lot of fun to be around with and wonderful to work with. 

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and more company meetings...

Here are this year's event numbers: 
  • 96 attendees
  • 22 overseas trade representatives
  • 43 different companies
  • 144 meetings between companies and trade representatives

This year's corporate sponsor was UPS and we thank them for their continued support.  The program was co-hosted by Pennsylvania's Center for Trade Development and additional funding support was provided by the US Small Business Administration.
 

Supriya Kanetkar speaks during lunch

Our luncheon program featured a presentation on "Doing Business in India" and Supriya Kanetkar, Associate Director of the PA Trade Office in India, was our keynote speaker.   In addition to a great luncheon buffet, our program also featured appetizers from the "Passage to India" restaurant.


The event also included a "partner" exhibit and informational booths from our local economic development partners were on display throughout the day.  Participating partners included MANTEC, the US Commercial Service, Kutztown University SBDC, Harrisburg Regional Chamber/CREDC, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, and the Harrisburg World Affairs Council.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yes, You Can Go Global!

Guest Blogger Kevin Smith
Principal, Global Sales Initiatives
 
Every business is focused on growth. This includes top and bottom lines, along with managing many details in between. In that pursuit, one of our daily challenges is finding new sources of revenue, whether it’s selling more of our current product set, developing new products or penetrating additional markets.

When we have multiple markets and customers within our reach, we can make decisions about which opportunities hit our sweet spot and which ones are less attractive, rather than feeling we must take everything that comes along in order to keep our business moving forward. This revenue generates the cash flow we need, and finances the necessary investment in the facilities, equipment and people we need to continue our growth cycle.

In the pursuit of revenue, a big step for small companies is making the decision to sell their products or services in another region of the world. If you have never sold outside the US before, this can be intimidating and you may find yourself asking “Where do I start?” The most effective way to address this challenge is to break it into manageable pieces. For example:

Do Your Homework – Understand why you want to sell overseas, where you should sell and why you think there is a need. This means knowing the market for your product or service. You may decide to immediately invest in costly market research or a market entry program however, to avoid spending a large sum of money prematurely, you can start by using resources that are available at no charge or have a minimal fee, and will allow you to learn about your targeted market and begin developing a plan. This is where resources like the Department of Commerce Export Assistance Centers, Small Business Development Center, World Trade Center and the State of PA Department of Community and Economic Development play an important role. These agencies and organizations have access to market data, experts on export regulations and documentation requirements, and representatives on the ground in many countries, who can help you understand the market and competitive landscape. Check out their websites to learn about what they have and how it can help you.

Develop A Plan - No plan is perfect and all plans will change as you grow. But in order to be successful, you must have one! As you do your homework and identify your network of resources, also begin to visualize and document your specific objectives, financial goals, budget, customer value proposition, potential barriers to entry and a Sales and Marketing strategy. If you need help getting started, the Small Business Administration (www.SBA.gov) provides a basic plan outline on their website. Remember to also use your network to find a mentor and ask for help at various stages of your planning process. The resources mentioned above can identify companies who have successfully navigated international markets. This will provide you with a valuable sounding board as they can explain the keys to their success and the mistakes they made along the way.

Align Your Resources - An important part of your planning process is understanding the resources you need to launch your global initiative successfully. This includes finding a lawyer to help with domestic and foreign laws, export regulations and contract reviews, securing the financing needed for your global transactions, working with a logistics company that can handle customs documentation and find the most favorable freight terms for you, identifying channel partners, defining your insurance needs, documentation translation requirements and many more. There are many resources required and many excellent service providers in the Harrisburg area who are happy to help, so ask for recommendations and work with them to develop a budget and timeline you can live with.

Commit - Once you have completed the homework, planning and resource activities, and you still believe establishing a global footprint is the right move for you, MAKE THE COMMITMENT! Position the capitol and resources to put your plan into action. This may include signing an agreement with a sales representative or channel partner who knows the local market and will sell your products, traveling to your targeted country or region to attend trade shows, translation of web pages, product brochures and business cards to the local language, or setting up an in country stocking location. Also keep in mind that new exporters may apply for a Market Access Grant sponsored by the Office of International Business Development within the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. MAG’s can provide you with up to $5,000 in matching dollars to help you fund these export activities.

Remember, there will be unexpected events that may require you to modify your plan, so analyze the situation, make the adjustment and keep moving forward with conviction.

Show Up  - Once you commit to penetrating a foreign market, it’s critical that you establish a visible presence in the targeted country or region. By now you have identified a channel partner who knows the local market to sell your products, but it’s also important to spend time on the ground there. Several reasons for this: 1) You will have a better understanding of the local market and customer requirements 2) Your partners and customers will need training as they begin to embrace your products 3) Communication is a key to your global success. Much of this will be done via email and phone, but you also need to see firsthand what is happening, provide clarification and direction, and avoid misunderstandings from language barriers. 4) Relationships are critical, and when you show up, your partners and customers know you are committed and will help you understand their culture, traditions and work environment which allows you to learn how to effectively conduct business with them. And when you share a meal, you will know more about each other personally and begin establishing the element of trust you need with your business partners. They are proud of their country, eager to make a good impression, and help your experience be a positive one. Plus, there is so much incredible food you can share!

Be Focused and Patient – We all demand results. After all, that’s why we are in business and how we measure ourselves. We are also impatient, and a key to our success is that we continually strive to achieve better results, faster. You should maintain that focus when doing business overseas, but you must also realize that you are now dealing with new people, rules, customs and expectations. Jump into your global initiative with enthusiasm and as you execute your plan and identify the opportunities and gaps, make sure you are patient and receptive to fresh ideas and approaches. There is a world of them out there.


Kevin Smith is a global Sales, Marketing and Business Development executive with over 20 years of leadership success at corporations such as Tyco Electronics, AMP Inc., and Philips, which includes senior management assignments based in Asia and Europe. As the Founder and Principal of Global Sales Initiatives LLC, he now focuses in two areas: 1) Working with small to mid-size US companies who want to accelerate top line growth by developing and executing a plan that identifies and penetrates new markets and customers, both foreign and domestic. 2) Partnering with foreign companies to develop a penetration plan and establish a presence for their products or services in the US.  Kevin received his degree in Business Administration from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire and lives in Harrisburg with his wife.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Brightened Thursday Morning!

Posted by Melissa

Walking into the office this morning brought a smile to my face as beautiful flowers were sitting on my desk.  Not only was I smiling because of how pretty the flowers look, but also because these flowers represented that the work we do here at the World Trade Center of Central PA does not go unnoticed.  The flowers were from WTC member MTM Linguasoft for all the clients we have refered to them.  We just want to say "thank you" for the token of appreciation that was sent to our offices!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 Philadelphia Port Tour

Posted by Melissa

For the third year, we organized a tour of the Philadelphia seaport and UPS hub at the Philadelphia airport. Thanks to our enthusiastic hosts, Craig Feister and his colleagues at UPS, and Dominic O'Brien and his colleagues at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority! Everyone again enjoyed touring and learning more about the Philly Port and UPS airport hub!  Below are some pictures from this year's tour!



UPS 757 Plane


Participants waiting on the tarmac to tour the 757



Group pictures by the UPS 757:



Dominic O'Brien telling the group about the Philly port




Friday, July 27, 2012

Permanent Normal Trade Relations With Russia

Posted by Tina

The United States currently does not provide permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia, because of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974.  The Jackson-Vanik amendment was created during the cold war to put pressure on the Soviet Union by linking free trade to human rights, including the freedom of emigration. 
Under WTO rules, every WTO member must grant all other members Permanent Normal Trade Relations, also known as Most-Favored Nation status. With Russia's upcoming accession to the WTO, the United States will not be in compliance with this rule unless Congress acts soon.
As a member of the WTO, Russia will be required to decrease its tariffs and remove barriers to imports of goods and services. Russia will also be required to comply with WTO requirements regarding transparency in setting rules and IPR protection. According to US Trade Representative Kirk: "If the United States cannot apply the WTO Agreement to Russia by the time Russia becomes a WTO Member, U.S. businesses, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, creators, and workers will be at a distinct disadvantage with our global competitors." For more details on this issue, visit the U.S. Chamber's "PNTR Primer" website and the USTR website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Using Social Media at the Fancy Food Show: How We Did it…

Posted by Melissa

To promote use of social media at the trade show,
the organizers set up a social media lounge, which
featured a live stream of tweets with the show's hashtag
To promote the PA Exhibit area at the Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., we followed our own advice and took the before, during and after approach to utilizing social media.  Here’s how and what we did: 

Before
As soon as we secured our booth space, we started promoting the PA Pavilion on twitter.  Approxmately six months before the show a designated hashtag was created for the Fancy Food Show along with the hashtag for the trade association putting on the show:  #sffs12 and #NASFT.
From that point on we incorporated both hashtags in all our trade show related tweets and started following the hashtag.  We tweeted the booth numbers of the PA Pavilion exhibitors and about the products and brands that would be represented in the PA Pavilion.  We also started retweeting things that would be interesting or helpful to other exhibitors, which started conversations between us and other exhibitors.  Primarily we kept promoting PA’s presence, especially the companies within the PA Pavilion through twitter.  We also learned about the official tweet up for the show by following this hashtag.  In addition, we posted a few times on facebook to reach an audience on a different platform.

During
We tweeted pictures from before set-up, during the show and tear down of the PA Pavilion booths.  Since we had eight participating companies, we tweeted individually about each company as well as collectively. What did we tweet about?  We put out messages about visiting the PA booth, what types of products/brands were in PA booth, about other PA exhibitors, retweeted facts about the show itself and educational seminars that occurred during the show.  We really promoted the PA booth several times a day through different tweets to attract participants to the "PA Aisle".  All these tweets contained the hashtag, so they were seen by everyone monitoring the hashtag at the show.  Our focus was really promoting the companies in the PA booth, while still providing other relevant show information. From set up to tear down, we shared the PA companies’ Summer Fancy Food Show experience via twitter.

After
Throughout the show, as well as after the show, we thanked everyone who interacted with us on twitter. A simple thank you for recognizing our tweets and either sharing them or replying to them is important. We also thanked everyone who participated in our booth and who met with us during the show.  We blogged a recap of the show in three different ways:  the show itself, pictures and this social media related post. 


Things to Consider for Next Time:
This year we didn’t actually have our own booth - there was such a demand for space by companies that neither the State's Center for Trade Development nor the WTC had a spot within the PA Pavilion.   Next year we hope to have a small portion of a booth to better promote the PA food industry in general.  This will allow us to have fun giveaways that feature PA on foursquare, twitter, and facebook!


The Pennsylvania Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food show was organized by the World Trade Center of Central Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s Center for Trade Development and it was funded in part through a STEP grant award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Seen at the Fancy Food Show

Posted by Tina


One of the things that always amazes me at trade shows is how a huge exhibit area can be transformed from seeming chaos to a pristine exhibit area in an amazingly short time:
     


From start...

Setting up


Unpacking




....to Finish!



 

Some eye catching exhibits:
(for more pictures of exhibits, visit our trade show board on Pinterest)


Cell phone charging station








I was truly lucky to be with Melissa at this trade show, as she had an uncanny talent for recognizing and meeting celebrities throughout the show:


Food Network's Nadia G. from the Bitchin' Kitchen Show





Food Network Start Aarti Sequeira


Bravo's "Top Chef" finalist Lindsay Autry



Chris Manzo, from the Real Housewives of New Jersey



While I got to pose with the Jelly Belly mascot :)








We also visited with the other 43 PA companies that were exhibiting at the show outside the PA Pavilion:



                                           
                                                            Janet Kolokithas, (right) from the State's
                                                           Center for Trade Development visits with MEGA

 
The Pennsylvania Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food show was organized by the World Trade Center of Central Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s Center for Trade Development and it was funded in part through a STEP grant award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.





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Thursday, June 21, 2012

PA Exhibit at Fancy Food Show 2012

Posted by Melissa

The World Trade Center of Central PA in conjunction with the State of PA’s Office of International Business Development organized a PA Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington DC from June 17-19, 2012.  This initiative was funded in part through a STEP grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Summer Fancy Food Show is organized by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT). NASFT is the preeminent not-for-profit business trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the $70 billion specialty food industry. The NASFT is an international organization composed of domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers and others in the specialty foods business. The organization has more than 2,900 current member companies throughout the U.S. and overseas.

Since 1955, the Fancy Food Shows have been North America’s largest specialty food and beverage marketplace. Between the Winter Show in San Francisco and the Summer Show in New York City (2011 and 2012 in Washington DC), the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade events bring in more than 40,000 attendees from more than 80 countries to see 260,000 innovative specialty food products, such as confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more.

Only NASFT members can exhibit at the Shows, where retailers, restaurateurs, distributors and others discover innovative, new food and beverage products. The Shows are attended by every major food buying channel, influential members of the trade and consumer press and other related businesses. The Summer Fancy Food Show included 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries & regions.
Eight companies participated in the PA Pavilion: 
The PA Pavilion was located alongside the other state exhibits and across from the international pavilions.  


Chef Tim Foods


Nuts About Granola

SB Global Foods

Davis & Davis Gourmet



Sensational Sweets

Rosa Foods

Bookbinder Specialties


  

Giorgio Foods

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Importance of Export Compliance & Procedures

Posted by Tina

The first rule to remember is that in the United States exporting is a privilege - and the privilege to export can be revoked if a person or company is found to be in violation of export laws and regulations.    The second rule to remember is that US Customs expects the use of "reasonable care" which is based on a policy of "informed compliance".


While it is not a requirement to have an export compliance program in place, written policies and procedures are not only a good idea, they could be a mitigating factor if export violations are found. 
Here is a sampling of issues that come up, but this is by no means an exhaustive list:

Denied Party Screenings - companies may not realize that they are required to screen their customer at time of quoting and again at time of shipment against the denied party lists. Dealing with entities on the denied party lists is prohibited!   Fortunately, the various US government agencies that maintain their own denied party lists, have recently combined efforts, which  makes screening a lot faster. The combined list can be accessed at the export.gov site, at the bottom of this screen.

Export Documentation - proper documentation starts with using the correct harmonized codes for your products and determining if the product is at all controlled (see below) and if there are any embargoes or sanctions in effect for the ultimate destination.  It also includes the mandatory AES filings, proper certificates of origin (especially important when claiming preferential tariff, such as in a NAFTA certificate of origin) and completing all required export documents. 

Under-reporting Value on the Commercial Invoice - we actually get this question ever so often:  "my customer asked us to report a different value on the commercial invoice than the actual amount, how much do companies usually reduce their amount by?"  Do NOT under-report!   The reason foreign buyers may ask for a lower value is to evade duties and taxes - remember, the value on the Commercial Invoice matches the value that the purchaser paid for the goods.

Proper Recordkeeping - generally all export records need to be kept for 5 years and US Customs may request to see your records at any time.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act - the FCPA prohibits corrupt payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business.  Individuals and firms may also be penalized if they order, authorize, or assist someone else to violate the anti-bribery provisions. 

Anti Boycott Act - the antiboycott laws were adopted to encourage or require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction, basically preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to U.S. policy. (an example of this would be the Arab League boycott of Israel)


Export Controls - controls are established to prevent the acquisition of technologies, technical data and information by parties hostile to the United States.  They also protect U.S. economic interests and foreign policy goals.  There are three federal agencies that administer the export control regulations in the United States:        
  • Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is responsible for Export Administration Regulations
  • Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is responsible for International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)   
  • U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for managing economic sanctions and embargoes.
Companies whose products are controlled need to get a license from the regulatory agency before even proceeding with sharing information.  The vast majority of all US exports (well over 90%) are shipped without special licenses, but for those companies whose products fall under the controls of the US Commerce Department, a great resource for developing and Export Management Program can be found on the BIS website. For products that fall under State Department controls, information on complying with ITAR are available here. 

Just in case you really wanted to know, Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains the export laws, and it can be accessed at the e-CFR site.

We have been conducting a very informal survey of freight forwarders, bankers, expediters and export control agencies over the last two years.  Basically, we ask them to estimate the number of export shipments that are NOT in compliance with US export laws.  Their general consensus is around 75% are not complying (some estimated this number as high as 90%).

Remember, violations and noncompliance penalties can carry significant civil fines, jail time and suspension or revocation of export privileges. By putting export policies and procedures in place, risks of noncompliance can be significantly reduced.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tradeshow Social Media

Posted by Melissa

Even with the ease and efficiency of the Internet and technology to connect companies with new business, tradeshows are still a must-attend event.  The marketing and promotion of these tradeshows, however, is changing.   Social media is a fast, engaging way to reach your audience before, during and after your show.  Social media has become another tool to utilize in conjunction with traditional media to attract more traffic to your booth.
              
Many tradeshow organizers have recognized the use of social media and have developed activities around it during the show.  Many have developed hashtags for tradeshows on twitter (or one has been organically already created).  Anyone posting in this hashtag will be searchable via this “term” and allowing more people to connect with your company.  Additionally, many organizers have developed “tweet-ups” for participants who engage in twitter and want to meet others at the show who do as well.  Furthermore, some organizers even offer seminars on best practices of social media for companies during the tradeshows as well.

Before the show, start promoting your booth number in tweets, posts, and emails. 
  • Use the hashtag in your twitter posts- This allows anyone that is searching that particular term to find you—a much bigger audience than just your followers.
  • Tweet or facebook or blog post include preparations you are making for your booth at a show and reasons why someone would want to stop at your booth. 
  • Start promoting any seminars that you may be conducting or promotions/contests you may have at your booth.
  • Search the hashtag on twitter or the facebook event for companies/customers to target and start the conversation before even arriving at the show.
During the show, use social media to promote happenings at your booth.
  • Create a foursquare check-in spot and allow give-aways for those who check-in.  Not only are they engaging in you, they are also advertising your booth to their own on-line community.
  • Live video stream or start a google hangout that shows activity occurring in your booth or of a seminar your company is conducting. 
  • Tweet, facebook, and/or blog post information about your booth- why people should come to your booth, any giveaways you have, promotional pricing that people could get at your booth, an electronic version of your brochures, and anything else that may peek interest of people coming to your booth.
  • Use the hashtag on twitter to be able to find more people who are attending/monitoring the show for more engagement.  Engage with these people—invite them to your booth!
After the show, social media can be used a follow up tool.
  • Personally thank those that tweeted, “checked-in”, stopped and engaged with you in some way.
  • Share slides/presentations/brochures via social media after the tradeshow.
  • Blog a recap of the tradeshow and use other social media platforms to link to this blogpost.
  • Continue the conversation with those who engaged with you.
The most important thing to remember when using Social Media at tradeshows is to be sure you are engaging in order to drive traffic to your booth, not just posting information.  Be sure to start the engagement early and continue the conversation even after the show!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pennsylvania's Free Export Assistance Services

Posted by Tina

Did you know that the State of Pennsylvania has the most comprehensive export assistance program of any state?  And that their services are offered mostly at no cost to companies in the Commonwealth?

We are very fortunate to be located in a State that is so forward thinking and committed to supporting PA companies with their global development efforts.  Here is a brief overview of the available resources through Pennsylvania's Center for Trade Development:

Free Export Assistance Services:  The State has partnered with 10 existing trade services providers located across the Commonwealth and provides funding to these organization so that they can offer free export assistance.  These services include market research, technical trade assistance and referrals to public and private trade facilitators.  The World Trade Center of Central Pennsylvania is the State's regional partner for an 8 county region in Southcentral PA.
  
Overseas Trade Offices:  Pennsylvania has a network of  20 overseas trade offices, these are local international business consultants who are contracted with the Commonwealth to provide very customized assistance to PA companies at no charge.  The majority of these offices have been working on behalf of PA companies for over 10 years and all of them have great connections to their local business community.  Remember, their services are very customized, but to give you an idea of typical requests for assistance from our region, here are some examples of their services:
  • Gathering marketing and competitive intelligence
  • Providing insight and analysis on market entry strategy
  • Identifying overseas partners, distributors, agents, etc
  • Providing regulatory information
  • Identifying relevant trade events
  • Conducting foreign company background checks
  • Trade lead assistance
  • Organizing in-country meetings and logistical assistance
  • And much more....

Global Access Program Grants - GAP is a valuable tool available to qualifying companies seeking financial assistance and foreign market entry support. GAP will provide up to $5,000.00 in 1:1 matching funds per year to qualifying Pennsylvania companies to offset a portion of the expenses associated with export promotion activities, such as international business development trips, participation at international trade shows, translation of product literature and website globalization. This program is funded in part through a grant award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  For more details, you can download more information.

International Trade Missions and Trade Show Participation - Every year, the State organizes several trade missions to key international markets as well as Pennsylvania Pavilion at major international trade shows.  Contact us for the most recent schedule of events.