There are various ways to find buyers for your products in your target markets. We have provided you below with some tips to help you find the right buyer or partner for your business.
1. Identify Types of Buyers that Best Fit your Business
Generally, there are two types of importers:
Importers that supply the large retailers and supermarkets.
Specialized importers that are focused on specific niche products such as organic, exotic, and ethnic products.
Each of the two importers has its own advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, regardless of the type of importer, it is essential to perform the proper due diligence and research on the buyers in order to find reliable ones, who have extensive experience in your target market.
No matter which buyer you decide to target, be prepared — before pitching to them — to define the product you are offering and its value proposition. This will help you in shortlisting relevant buyers that match your product’s characteristics. For example, if you sell organic premium food products, you can eliminate buyers who only trade in conventional products.
Moreover, if you are an experienced exporter, you might have the option of directly selling to retailers; however, this option usually entails a higher risk and investment, since you would be required to invest in your own warehouse solutions, be ready to participate in competitive procurement, and deliver large quantities on short notice.
2. Be Visible Online to Attract Buyers
You need to work on your website first to clearly showcase your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) to potential buyers in your target markets. This means that you need to show your buyers why your company or product is unique and different from the competition. You can increase your visibility online and have a strong online communication presence by following the tips below:
Make sure that your website is complete and not missing any important information for potential buyers (UVP, product information (quality and sizes), certifications, number of employees, description of production process and trend in volumes, export markets if available, social and sustainable practices, etc.).
Use storytelling and quality images to present or pitch your business online.
Update your website regularly with news and activities as well as your social media accounts.
Proof-read your website’s content and make sure that you are using proper English. It would also be preferable to include various language options depending on your target markets/buyers.
Use the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to facilitate the process of finding specific information about the products you sell, especially when the buyer is searching for it. Additionally, the SEO will help make your website appear in the first page of major search engines.
Share your website link on major trade directories and listings so that buyers can easily find you.
Complement your website with strong presence on major social media platforms by contracting professionals who can help you develop attractive content for your website and social media accounts.
3. Attend Trade Fairs
Participating in trade fairs in your target market can be a great entry point to get to know your market better, promote your brands, and potentially meet buyers or partners. However, participating in trade fairs can be quite costly. Therefore, it is important to calculate the cost-benefit ratio before deciding if it is worth it to participate in such trade fairs. With that being said, you would need to properly study the type of buyers that attend this event, the type of events that are organized during the fair, the potential of the markets targeted by the fair for your products, and the overall value for money.
Instead of exhibiting at a fair, you could potentially search for the list of exhibitors and connect with them directly (preferably before the fair), either by email or by visiting their stand in the fair.
Since the outburst of COVID-19, many trade shows have been cancelled or organized virtually. Event though it is considered more challenging to connect virtually with buyers, you can still benefit from accessing the exhibitors list and contacting the buyers individually by email or phone.
Preparations prior to attending a fair is key to ensuring proper participation. The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) regularly organizes training for the companies participating as part of its delegation in major international fairs. You can also consult with marketing professionals to help you develop a marketing strategy to be used during the fairs.
Most popular fairs among agri-food Lebanese exporters include Anuga and SIAL in Germany/ France, Gulfood in Dubai, Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. For the fresh fruits and vegetables, Fruit Logistica in Berlin and Macfrut in Italy were always considered the go-to event for Lebanese exporters.
4. Search International Companies Databases
You can also find buyers by joining one of the many company databases available either for free or against a membership/subscription fee.
Some of these databases are sector-specific and others are general. One example of of these databases includes Kompass, a global B2B database with a subscription option. Other options are Global Buyers online and Europages which are both directories of European companies.
Furthermore, the International Trade Center (ITC) puts at the disposal of subscribers a directory of importing and exporting companies through its Trade Map tool, covering around 220 countries and 5,300 products of the Harmonized System. The information in this tool is available for free for users from Lebanon.
5. Check Members of Business Associations
Business or sector-specific associations in the target market can be a great source to find potential buyers. These associations organize several international conferences where you can meet and connect with their members and conduct various research, which can help you understand the trends in demand and competition in your target market.
You can also contact these associations to ask about business matchmaking services to help you find buyers from their members list.
In Lebanon, IDAL is the de-facto national export and investment promotion agency. IDAL has a major export program in the Agriculture and Agri-food sectors and supports Lebanese exporters in marketing their products in international fairs and helps connect them to potential buyers.
The Chamber of Commerce in Lebanon is also an active Business Support Organization that supports Lebanese exporters in finding buyers and understanding market opportunities.
The economic attache in the various Lebanese embassies abroad also supports Lebanese exporters in finding buyers and understanding market trends.
You can join international and local trade directories to be more visible to potential buyers. Locally, you can join the exporter directory that is developed by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon as well as the export or supplier directory developed by the chamber of commerce to list your offerings. As an industrialist, you can also join as a member as part of the Lebanese Industrialists Association and have your services and products listed on their website.
8. Check Competitors’ List of Buyers and Partners
You can undertake research to understand your competitor’s main buyers/importers and distributors in your target market. This information is usually available online on their own websites. Once you identify those importers, you can contact them and pitch your own services and products to them.