Roxanne Baumann global initiatives

Roxanne Baumann, WMEP Director of Global Engagement

Developing a strategic exporting plan gives companies the ability to thrive in a global economy while boosting revenue and reducing risk.

“Strategic exporters make more money and they have adapted best practices as they move from being reactive, or accidental exporters,” said Roxanne Baumann, director of global engagement for the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Best practices in exporting are centered on a plan, product, people, process and partners, she said.

Baumann will deliver the keynote address and lead what is sure to be a lively and interactive panel discussion at an event presented by the Milwaukee Business Journal titled, “Be a Strategic Exporter – Not a Reactive, Accidental one. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 22nd from 7:30-10 a.m. at the Pfister Hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee. More information.

Most small and mid-size manufacturers are underachieving when it comes to selling their products in foreign markets, she added. A mere 4 percent nationally export their products and 58 percent of those sell in just one country, usually Canada or Mexico, according to Baumann.

“There’s a lot of profitable opportunity when you go at this proactively, and strategically,” she said.

Even for companies that already export their products, there are advantages in expanding their opportunities in foreign markets.

Baumann is quick to point out that 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. Changing demographics also mean that 65 percent of the world’s population will reside in Africa and Southeast Asia by 2050. In addition, baby boomers are retiring, meaning that by 2030 an estimated 66 percent of the world’s middle-class citizens will reside in the Asia/Pacific region, with only 20 percent in the United States and Europe, Baumman said.

Plugging into Wisconsin’s extended export partnerships can ease the challenges facing manufacturers who want to export their products.

“We have strategy support, transactional support, and educational support that is the best in the nation,” Baumann said. “Our state and federal agencies have real-world experts with business and manufacturing backgrounds.  Our state offers scholarships and grant support to get started and implement your plan.”

The biggest challenge often is getting the day-to-day leader of a company to acknowledge the opportunity and build an appropriate exporting strategy.

Strategic exporters have a well thought-out plan that includes optimizing their value proposition and developing target country market research using multiple macro- and micro-economic conditions and market indicators, Baumann said.

“Then, you build and develop a go-to-market plan around the countries in strongest need of your products.  The break-even and pay-back are much faster and with less risk,” Baumann said.

The key benefits to exporting, according to Baumann, include higher revenue than non-exporters; faster growth fueled by innovation from global engagement and seeing your product from a different perspective; the ability to pay higher wages and attract top-notch employees; greater stability and productivity since exporting allows for better management of economic fluctuations; and higher valuations.

Baumann will lead a panel discussion featuring Roger Bensinger, executive vice president of business development at Air/Q, a division of Milwaukee-based Prolitec Inc.; Doug Biggs, vice president of sales and marketing for Gilman Precision, Grafton; and Paul Byrne, vice president and general manager for the Bradley Specialties Group of Bradley Corp., which has its headquarters in Menomonee Falls.