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The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from Murem Sharpe, founder and CEO of the global web and mobile services provider, Evoca. Murem and her Savannah-based company love to call Savannah home. Read on for Murem’s thoughts on how to build a global business from right here in beautiful Savannah….
Visualize your company as being global.
With Savannah’s location as a cultural and tourism hub and international port, it can be. No matter what our product or service, all of us can serve a global market. According to Visit Savannah, the city hosts 11.4 million visitors a year. That means that business people, professionals, and tourists from all over can learn about your product and bring it back to their home countries and cities. Establishing an online presence to tap into these visitors both before and after they head to our Hostess City is important. Communicate the story about your Savannah-based business every chance you get.
Always consider potential opportunities to partner with larger, international companies, because they have a wider audience and more resources.
We have nurtured the opportunity to integrate Evoca’s voice recording web service with Skype, which has given us access to its 650+ million users. Leveraging your company this way can build connections and give your products a good reputation in your industry, which can be a great way to grow. To do so, you always have to consider the benefits you offer to partner organizations. Will you help them meet a previously unmet need for their users? Will you help solve a problem? Will you help them generate revenue? Which leads to our next tip.
Work on solving a real problem with a quality product.
It is important to recognize what makes your product uniquely suited to satisfying customers’ requirements. If your core product is not meeting all of their needs, expand your product line. We are about to offer Boca, a new mobile app, which will add video creation to our toolbox. If you are an early stage company you likely are more flexible than your larger, bureaucratic competitors, so you can more rapidly respond to the needs and expectations of your users.
Maintain a strong and consistent identity for your brand and market it.
Consider a well-known global brand and what do you think of? It is usually their name, logo or tag line — or all three. Consistent branding can distinguish you from competitors, create a unique message to reach your appropriate audience, and successfully connect all channels of your external communication to avoid confusion and to reinforce your brand.
Network, form bonds within your community, and have an advisory team that shares your global vision to guide you.
The Creative Coast is a terrific networking organization and resource for advisors. Also consider getting involved with similar businesses in your industry. For example the Telfair Museums organization partners with the North American Reciprocal Membership (NARM) Program. This enables the Telfair and other NARM affiliates to mutually benefit, since any registered member can visit any of the registered NARM museums in the country at a discounted rate, helping those locations to obtain an increase in visitors and visibility.
Remember that growing your company globally probably will not happen overnight. But as long as you can balance your original mission for the company with being nimble enough to grasp new opportunities, you should be able to achieve great things both locally and abroad.
Evoca is committed to helping power the voices of small businesses and large corporations alike. Locally, Evoca powers Savannah Storyfest’s Historic Savannah Tours, Savannah Morning News’ popular “Vox Populi” feature, and the Telfair Museum’s “If Walls Could Talk” oral history project. Nationally and internationally Evoca supports NPR’s Moth Radio Hour for their audio auditions search, Discovery Communications for fan “shout outs” for their popular TV series, and Save the Children Foundation’s reporting about disaster relief efforts. Evoca is also a member of the Global Network Initiative, which works to advance freedom of expression and privacy in communications technology.