The Gold Key Service: How to Find International Customers the World Over
Best-Kept Global Secret
For a small company with a sizable budget, the Gold Key Service (GKS) — through the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service — is one of the most efficient ways to meet with pre-screened potential cross-border business associates, whether you are seeking an agent, a distributor or a joint-venture partner. We touched on this in Point No. 4 in “How to Find and Pre-Qualify Importing Wholesalers.” Individual meetings are arranged, most taking place at the U.S. embassy in the host country.
Many companies testify that this is a wise investment because you pay only for your airfare, lodging and entertainment and have a series of productive meetings already set up.
Untapped Export Potential
According to the Small Business Administration:
• Less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export – a significantly lower percentage than all other developed countries. Of U.S. companies that do export, 58 percent export to only one country.
• Small and medium-sized companies account for 97.6 percent of U.S. exporters. (In 2009, there were nearly 275,843 identified U.S. exporters, 269,269 of which were small or medium-sized).
• The number of small and medium-sized exporters more than doubled between 1992 and 2007, and nearly three-quarters of exporters have fewer than 20 employees.
• According to the Institute for International Economics, U.S. companies that export not only grow faster but also are nearly 8.5 percent less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.
Many businesses could benefit from learning more about GKS. Every year, the U.S. Commercial Service helps thousands of U.S. companies navigate the challenges of exporting goods and services worth billions of dollars. Located in 109 cities across the United States and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries, its global network of trade professionals opens doors that no one else can.
First and foremost, they can connect U.S. companies with international buyers worldwide. And after all, isn’t that what you are after: Finding customers the world over?
The Gold Key Service will also help you with:
• Custom market and industry briefings with trade specialists to target the best trade prospects and opportunities.
• Market research that pertains to a specific country and examines cultural issues, analyzes market potential and size, and includes market entry strategies for your product or service offering and due-diligence on foreign competitors.
• Appointments with prospective trade partners in key industry sectors.
• Effective debriefings with trade specialists and assistance in developing appropriate follow-up strategies.
• Travel, accommodations, interpreter service, and clerical support.
• Participation in trade shows sponsored by state and federal agencies.
Example of Gold Key Service in China
Let’s say you are interested in visiting China — the United States’ third-largest export market for goods — with the intention of eventually doing business there. First, brush up on “China” and review the “FAQ on Exporting to China.” Next, get in touch with the Gold Key Service for China, which will assist you in identifying attractive opportunities tailored to your business and arranging appointments with pre-screened key players in the China market.
You can choose to set up appointments with agents and distributors, importing wholesalers in your industry, key governmental officials, service experts (e.g., bankers, consultants and lawyers), Chinese partners, trade associations, joint venture specialists and major end-users. It’s up to you and what your business needs are. The bottom line is to make it easy to enter the market and let GKS do most, if not all, of the work at a modest fee (see below).
Gold Key Service Fees
(For a sampling of what to expect on fees, visit the Vietnam example.)
Fees vary depending on company size and the scope of service, but standardized services typically are as follows:
Gold Key Service (Matchmaking): U.S. $700 (small to medium-sized company); $350 (small to medium-sized new-to-export companies using service for the first time); and $2,300 (large company).
To get started with this service, go here (No. 4). May it help you find a new path forward on the international front.
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