Anyone working in the on-line medium knows just how fickle it can be. A social media faux pas or some less than stellar investments and you can go from rising star to chapter 11 or business wind-down. This is one of the reasons why many businesses are slow to evolve and develop international platforms in anything but their native language and, perhaps one more relevant widespread language. Exposing yourself to potential losses in an otherwise marginal market is hard to justify as good business practice.
This conservative expansion, even from big companies like Spotify or Amazon has been based on growth and success estimates by analysts in different markets. However oftentimes the demand for a service is highly under-rated and a lot of the ‘junk’ markets, the markets where companies do not expect to make a profit, can actually be quite lucrative. Take the above listed example of Spotify. While Spotify expanded to several markets in the US, western Europe and Australia its unavailability in Eastern Europe, South Africa or Japan has led to the rise of countless imitators with comparable song catalogues and pricing schemes. While the market for music streaming is still small in these countries, it does exist and will only grow in time.
If you work in the software business, regardless of whether you’re working for a big company or are a freelance app developer you have probably come across the perceived main problem of the industry: piracy. In the digital publishing business having your content stolen is almost a given and there are few things that annoy publishers and producers more. The results vary from the litigious to the humorous. And yet piracy is one of the main reasons why ‘Junk’ Markets that big software companies won’t touch exist. Between low incomes and widespread piracy countries like Russia seem like the last place on earth where you would want to do business. And yet Valve, the company behind Half-Life has sold millions of games in the Russian market through its on-line sales platform, Steam. Expanding to the Russian market was a bold move ‘destined to fail’ but through a clever balance of great service and Russian specific prices Valve managed to defeat piracy and turn a ‘Junk’ Market into a profitable one all at once.
Turning ‘Junk’ into Profit
Tackling troublesome markets is not something that every company wants to do, especially when the company is a large one with a large and anxious body of investors. But a small, dedicated team can easily enter a market as long as they have a good idea, a smart marketing plan and an easily accessible and highly desirable product. The cornerstone of your strategy should be your website, which should be professionally designed, translated and well optimised by a search agency or in-house department, especially as SEO is both easier and way cheaper outside the anglosphere.
There is no such thing as an impossible market. The only thing limiting your effectiveness in developing markets is how much you’re willing to invest in your marketing and your manufacturing. And if Valve could do it so can you.