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Sharon-May McCrostie has advice for Kiwi export firms looking to succeed in Australia, without sinking in the process. 

Australia is a huge, diverse and highly competitive market and succeeding there takes time – it may be two or three years before you really gain traction. 
However, if you follow a clear plan for market entry, commit to it, and focus on what matters, you’ll build yourself a strong base for future growth. 

Start with understanding your customer and the marketplace. Know what you’re offering and if it fills an under-served need for your target segment in Australia. Don’t assume that Australian customers have the same needs as New Zealand customers. Make sure that you can explain “what’s in it for them”. Another thing to look at is where your customers are – they might be mainly in one state, which means you can really target your focus there instead of trying to cover the whole country.

Look at the investment you’re willing to make over a three year horizon. Be realistic when estimating your expenses – it’ll probably cost more than you think.

“Have enough funding for the initial 12-24 month period. This is essentially the most important period of any business venture in Australia in terms of creating brand awareness, establishing a network and other business-related relationships.” – Joseph Alonso, Growth Enabler, Vesta-Central. 

Build your sales and marketing function, using a range of channels and activities to reach your audience. You’ll get better results by coordinating your sales and marketing activities from the start, rather than relying on direct sales alone. Make sure you have a compelling brand story targeted to your Australian customers.
Make a plan for people. Know your strategy, figure out who you need to execute it, then hire the best people you can. Give them clear goals and priorities. Consider filling marketing and customer success roles early on – not just direct sales staff.

“Setting the right culture within the Australian market can sometimes be a challenge. Whilst New Zealand is only a hop, skip and a jump from mainland Australia, working cultures certainly feel a little further apart. We made the decision to hire locally rather than relocate a startup team. We had clear company values which we based our hires on, and whilst we had a limited headcount budget, we sought people that had a passion for new business, that enjoyed challenges and most of all were team players. This allowed us to buckle down when the times were tough and enjoy the milestones as we grew.” – Daniel Littlepage, MD Australia/ New Zealand, 90 Seconds.

Network as much as you can, be visible, and make yourself part of the local scene. There are great business communities in Australia – help people out and they will help you in return. Being genuine pays dividends. 

“One of our most rewarding entry market initiatives [in Australia] was attending as many industry events as we could possibly attend. We would take a camera and microphone, interview key speakers and industry professionals, package the content up and send a personal intro after the event. It was a great way to build up initial rapport and tell the 90 Seconds story. We still use this approach in today’s approach to new markets.” – Daniel Littlepage.

“There are many ways to network – consider whether your service providers in New Zealand have operations in Australia and can they give you any insights on the market?” – David Clarke, NZTE Beachheads Advisor, Australia.

There’s no single path to success, but drawing on these key points can help you prepare your own strategy for tackling the market and joining the ranks of New Zealand successes in Australia.

Sharon-May McCrostie is Regional Director Australia Pacific, for NZTE.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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