Category Archives: Market Research

Japan-EU Free Trade: Opportunities and Challenges for New Market Entrants

As CNN reports, Japan and the EU have agreed on an historic new free trade agreement which covers one-third of the world’s economy and includes 600 million people

Expected to come into force in 2019 after being approved by lawmakers on both sides, the agreement, as CNN reports (citing World Trade Organization Statistics), will eliminate nearly all current tariffs on EU products of 1.6% when they arrive in Japan – and 2.9% on Japanese products entering the EU. CNN also reported that the EU said current Japanese tariffs “cost its companies up to €1 billion ($1.2 billion) per year”. Notably, as The Economist reported last year, “the deal could raise the EU’s exports to Japan by 34%, and Japan’s to the EU by 29%.”

Ankit Panda, reporting for The Diplomat, detailed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement following the signing of the agreement: “The EU and Japan showed an undeterred determination to lead the world as flag-bearers for free trade”, Abe stated.  And European Council President Donald Tusk, Panda reports, stated “the deal was the ‘largest bilateral trade deal ever.’”

The agreement is important as it comes at a time when both the EU and Japan, staunch allies of the United States, face increased tariffs on exports into the U.S. as a result of protectionist trade policies of the Trump Administration.

The EU Economy

The EU’s economy was ahead of the United States in 2015 with a GDP in 2015 of €14,600 billion. “With just 6.9% of the world’s population, the EU’s trade with the rest of the world accounts for around 20% of global exports and imports.”

The Japanese Economy

And as the BBC reports, Japan’s economy is the world’s third largest — with economic growth (according to the OECD) projected to edge up to 1.4% in 2017, aided by increased international trade in Asia and fiscal stimulus.

7 ways to avoid risk and capitalize on opportunity in new foreign markets

While EU-Japan Free Trade will reduce tariff barriers, making it easier for EU and Japan-based companies to do business in these respective markets – there remain significant challenges which must be understood and addressed on an ongoing basis for any firm to succeed in a market entry strategy.

Lauren Maillian, writing in Forbes, details essential strategies (1 to 5) companies should consider before developing a presence in a new international market. And Marco Calabrese, writing in Trade Ready Blog, details additional prime risks (6 and 7) to companies entering a new international market:

  1. Educate yourself on the customs and business etiquette of the international market.
  2. Gather historical data on the country’s currency value fluctuation and import/export timelines – Maillian explains how deal values can change based on currency fluctuations between the time the deal is agreed until it’s finalized.
  3. Become an expert on the country’s laws governing business.  Maillian underscores the importance of local legal counsel to navigating the export markets unique legal and regulatory environment.  (I would add to this public affairs, financial advisory and local market entry advisement).
  4. Conduct focus groups to test the waters in the prospective international market. “A new approach may be needed to make your product or service suitable to the needs and expectations of the potential foreign market”.
  5. Find out what your competition has done in the same territory.
  6. Protecting your business from political change – Calabrese cites how “the current global economy has been undergoing significant changes that have had major effects on international business.”
  7. Identify and avoid corruption – “Companies entering certain regions may be confronted with unorthodox ways of doing business. In several nations, bribery is required in order to complete trade”.

Henry Tan, Representative Director of Tricor K.K has outlined 5 Challenges Of FMNs (Foreign Multinationals) Entering The Japanese Market. And Donagh Kiernan, founder and CEO of Tenego Partnering, details some of the unique challenges foreign companies face when entering the EU market.

Looking forward

The EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) will provide significant new opportunities for Japanese and EU companies seeking to expand into each other’s sizable markets. As both markets are highly developed and complex, however, they’ll pose a variety of challenges to any business seeking to capitalize upon the newly agreed FTA. Despite these challenges, companies can seek to secure the assistance of local experts in market entry, legal and public affairs advisement and other specialisms tailored to the needs of a new market entrant. By securing specialized market entry assistance, companies can successfully meet the challenges they’ll face when entering the EU or Japanese market.

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Deloitte-Forbes study: 1/3 of C-Suite executives prefer reading long-form print content

A 2017 report from Forbes and Deloitte details how top executives prefer to receive business insights.   300 C-suite executives from around the world were surveyed to produce the report, entitled: Thought Leadership in Action: Strategic Content to Help CXO’s Learn and Lead.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the study reveals that despite the tendency for digital media to reduce ideas to brief “sound-bites” — more than one-third of C-Suite executives prefer to read long form content in print.

Key findings of the report include that while C-Suite executives “expect to be able to access content in multiple ways” — the majority benefit from longer formats, including presentations, books and comprehensive papers.

Research-driven content is vital

Bruce Rogers (@Brogers825), Chief Insights Officer of Forbes Media explains that C-Suite executives “want to access longer pieces, which take them from hypothesis, through case studies, to conclusion, and are based on credible data.”  Rodgers noted that “short-form content serves as a gateway to more information.”

Gina Pingitore (@GPingitorePHD), Managing Director, Deloitte Services LP, Deloitte Center for Industry Insights — explained that “thought leadership needs to present [C-suite executives] with data-based insights that are credible, relevant to their organizations and lead to business outcomes” – because “evidence-based decision making is..critical…for setting strategy.”

Print remains an important medium

While content must be designed and distributed via multiple channels – print remains an important medium.   A full half of the C-suite executives surveyed said  it is critical to read long-form business insights.  84% said they would choose offline long-form content.

Professional content producers are important

Results of the study also reflect that “professional publishing and consulting firms produce the most valuable content”.  C-suite executives, the report details, “obtain the most valuable content from organizations capable of analyzing information and then placing it in a narrative context.”

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If there’s ever been a time to build your own audience for your company…it’s now

Frank Strong, writing recently in Sword and the Script Blog, details how traditional advertising and social media have become, except for the very well-funded brands – more difficult to utilize to promote companies.

Without well-researched, trustworthy written content, Strong explains, companies without deep budgets will have a hard time building an audience.

Crowded news and information markets makes building an audience difficult

As Strong details, the ad has been replaced by sponsored content. And social media channels are crowded with numerous brands, individuals and companies all vying for attention.  

At the same time — earned media coverage – the type most commonly driven by traditional public relations efforts to court journalists to write stories which might highlight a brand — is much more difficult to secure.  Why?  Because traditional media outlets will often select promoted content over traditional stories as a means to generate revenue.  And important for companies to keep in mind — trust in traditional media is waning, which is making earned media on traditional channels less appealing.

Strong calls this set of circumstances a “perfect storm” for companies seeking to generate awareness via both traditional news outlets and increasingly crowded social media channels.

Create your own initiative to build a loyal audience

To build an organic audience Strong recommends companies consistently create and publish content that is substantially different and passionate, utilizing case studies, white papers and webinars – as readers now consider them to be the most trustworthy forms of content.  

Patience required as this is a long-term strategy

Finally, he advises patience — as content production to support corporate goals – including sales – is a long-term strategy – whose full measure must be taken over time.

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Digital engagement seen as key to expanding the influence of Think Tanks

Digital engagement is seen as increasingly important to the success of public policy think tanks — according to industry experts.

Writing recently on LinkedIn PulseDermot Finch (@dermotfinch) of Great Britain’s Prince’s Trust and a founder of Centre for Cities think tank — see’s successful think tank’s now “engag[ing] directly with voters.  Sitting on a think tank panel in Whitehall or a party conference doesn’t really cut it any more. So the demand for think tank platforms has diminished somewhat”, he explains.  Successful think tanks, he writes, are increasingly demonstrating a deeper, nonpartisan expertise.

Digital engagement seen taking two forms

Recent political campaigns in the UK and US have highlighted the importance of digital engagement and the success it might bring those seeking to influence the public policy landscape, according to Aidan Muller, Founder & CEO of Daimon Communications, writing in Public Affairs News.  

Muller identifies digital campaigning and digital intelligence as they two key pillars of digital engagement required for modern public affairs campaigning success.  Digital campaigning, he writes, is characterized by “leveraging third-party channels” — which has the effect of taking messages far beyond your immediate community.  Online influencer engagement, media partnerships, paid promotions on blogs, content discovery platforms or social media platforms are all a part of digital campaigning.  Digital intelligence is an often overlooked tool, according to Muller.  Digital data, he details, “is probably the area which is changing public affairs the most.  Each social media post, each share, each search leaves a digital footprint.”  And this data — Muller explains — “is there to be harvested and analysed”.

How one prominent think tank has used social media

While social media engagement is just one component of a holistic digital strategy, the experience of the Brookings Institution is one example of how seriously some in think tanks are taking digital engagement.

Barbara Ray of HiredPenInc interviewed the Brookings Institution’s David Jackson (@davidvjackson) in 2011 — about “how [Brookings is] using social media to get their research findings out to policymakers, journalists, and the public.”  Jackson is now Communications Director for the National Association of Counties.

Jackson told Ray that while “media gatekeepers still exist…[with social media] there are [now] many more ways into an issue or an audience you’re engaging with…[beyond] the traditional press release and follow-up.”  A good blog and an active Twitter account have helped make op-ed’s no longer necessary.

At the time of the interview, Brookings was maintaining both personal and institutional Twitter accounts.  They were also doing video conferences and podcasts.  Engagement of individual scholars was vital to the amplification of their messages, Jackson explained, as “social media is about individual voices”.  “The personal brand has become even more import than the organizational brand”, he said.  Brookings at the time was staffing their social media monitoring with 10 staff members.

Think Tank social media “a work in progress”

Jackson told Ray that: “Overall, though, we’re still carving out how to do this. It’s a work in progress. Anyone who claims to be a social media expert or guru is a little bit ahead of themselves. I don’t think anyone is an expert on something that is evolving so quickly. There’s no one-stop rainmaker who can tell you, ‘If you these three things, you’ll be successful.” There is no “one size fits all” in this realm.  

No matter what strategy you decide on for social media, remember that it’s part of everyone’s job. It is an organizational commitment. You have to constantly feed the beast. That’s the hardest part.”

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Thought leadership’s importance to management consulting growth

In a recent Forbes article, Russ Alan Prince details how competitive pressures among management consultants has made thought leadership an effective way to secure new clients.

And Braden Kelly explained in a recent article how these competitive pressures are as a result of an abundance of information online.  This abundant online information has created a buyers market for management consulting services. Buyers of management consulting services, he writes, are now seeking out thought leadership to inform their buying decisions.

Russ Allen Prince highlighted how McKinsey & Co pioneered industry thought leadership with McKinsey Quartely, a highly successful journal “replete with descriptions of the firm’s successes”.  The Management Consultancies Association (MCA), the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK, showcased other leading examples of leading industry thought leadership from firms including PwC, KPMG and Deloitte — at their 2016 MCA Awards.

Challenges to thought leadership development

Braden Kelly detailed how “consulting firms are struggling to identify and provide the content necessary to help them maintain (and possibly extend) their success in this new [competitive] environment.”

Firms are struggling, according to Kelly, because they “tend to under-invest in thought leadership and as a consequence…find themselves vulnerable to new entrants.”

Thought leadership is often not the primary focus inside some consultancies.  Firm partners, focused first on new revenue generation — have limited time for thought leadership, particularly novel initiatives that support “expansionary growth” Kelly explained.  This lack of focus can keep firms treading water or losing ground on new business generation via a sustained thought leadership campaign.

Another challenge to thought leadership development is the importance of social media visibility — in addition to excellent thought leadership content creation.

Looking forward

Well-developed thought leadership can support successful new business generation efforts by management consulting firms, according to Kelly.  But these efforts require a commitment of time and resources to realize their full potential.  

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How to find an excellent content writer

An article by Chris Warden on JeffBullas.com succinctly details what to look for in a great content writer.  As Warden details: “In an age where content is the new gold standard of web-related and social media marketing; it’s time to start producing great content or find someone who can.”

He explains that great writers are capable of creating content which is informative enough to lead customers or clients to take a desired action.  And that while anyone might have the ability to write, not everyone is a good writer.  Warden argues that if you’re not confident in your writing ability — or I would add – don’t have the time to produce excellent content — then it’s time to find a great writer to help you do so.

Warden details 5 key attributes to look for in a writer who can be trusted to consistently produce great content:

  1. Commitment to meeting deadlines 

Deadlines are about as important as the content itself.   Professional writers know this and always produce content in a timely fashion.

2. Ability to articulate your message in writing

Great writers have the ability to craft distinctive written messages capable of articulating the unique story of each client.

3. Adaptability

In today’s digital world – written communications take a variety of forms transmitted via a number of mediums.  Great writers are capable of understanding how to write for specific audiences and the specific mediums you’ll be utilizing

4. Ability to conduct effective research

What underpins good content and makes it meaningful is:  Good research.  Great writers are able to effectively research topics to help underpin your message with verifiable information of specific relevance to your unique audience.

5. Availability

A professional writer should be able to turn around even the most challenging content on short time frames.  Warden explains that: “This is one of the most profound arguments for hiring professional, full-time writers rather than hobbyists and those that use content as a means to derive a second form of income.”

Finding good writers isn’t easy

In the age of content marketing, finding and retaining a great writer isn’t easy – but producing client-focused superior content on a regular basis – requires it.

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