The International Trade Blog arrow International Sales & Marketing

Export Trade Missions Can Be a Good Investment for Your Company

On: February 28, 2022    |    By: Joseph A. Robinson Joseph A. Robinson    |    3 min. read

Export Trade Missions Can Be a Good Investment for Your Company | Shipping SolutionsTrade missions are prearranged working trips conducted by organizations that serve the interests of exporters, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, various state trade offices, chambers of commerce and industry associations. Wise exporters—large and small—use trade missions to expand their international marketing programs and grow sales.

Since in-person trade missions have resumed once again, now is a good time learn about why they're a good investment for your company.

How Do Trade Missions Work?

Mission leaders and their support staff provide comprehensive assistance in preselected, target-rich markets. Exporters benefit from valuable face-to-face contact with potential customers, representatives and investment partners. The results of a well-executed trade mission are business leads that yield increased sales.

Download Whitepaper Now: Developing Your Export Strategy: 5 Things Every  Exporter Should Know

Why Go on Trade Missions?

Trade missions have the biggest bang for your buck. According to Dr. Joe Adams, a long-term successful mission leader for the state of Virginia: “You don’t have to worry about making appointments; you don’t have to worry about getting past secretaries; it is all prearranged. All you have to do is get a plane ticket and go.”

In terms of marketing, a well-organized and properly lead trade mission is a great leveraging tool.

What Do Trade Missions Offer?

A well-organized trade mission provides expert service and assistance to include the following activities:

  • Qualify potential customers pertinent to your company’s product.
  • Identify potential representation partners.
  • Provide contact with government and public officials.
  • Offer translation as needed.
  • Arrange logistics, including local transportation, accommodations, appointments and meeting facilities.

In many cases, trade missions enable you to conduct more and better business interviews than you could on your own. Surprisingly, some trade missions provide the service and assistance free of charge. In some cases, they are even partially subsidized by the organizers. In these cases, all you have to do is purchase your airline ticket, pay for your lodging and simply show up.

Download Whitepaper Now -> Evaluating Export Markets: How to Assess Country  and Customer Risks

How Do You Get the Most out of Trade Missions?

Based on my many years of experience as both a participant and a mission leader, the number one criteria for producing optimum results from a trade mission is to clearly define your expectations for participating on the trip. Be sure to write specific, simple and quantifiable objectives.

The second most important criteria to get the most out of a trade mission is to provide your mission leader with a one-page profile. This should be sent as far in advance as possible. One page is preferred as it can be faxed, emailed and handed out during pre-mission recruiting activity.

The first item in your profile should be a clearly stated, one-paragraph description of your company. The second item should be a paragraph explaining, in lay terminology, your product or service. The third item should be an explanation of the type of company and person with whom you need to meet. The fourth item to include is a brief list of your most important expectations.

This one-page profile makes it easier for the mission leader to understand how to best help you. It will also be a constant reminder to keep you focused and on track before and during your mission.

In summary, a well-organized and clearly defined trade mission can be one of your best marketing and sales tools to help you grow your international business.

This article was first published in May 2002 and has been updated to include current information, links and formatting.


Joseph A. Robinson

About the Author: Joseph A. Robinson

Joe Robinson has 43 years hands-on experience in global commerce targeting new markets highlighting investment opportunities. He is an author, has lived abroad 4 times; traveled to 81 countries and exported to 105 countries in both private corporations and in government positions. He is currently a consultant to companies, government agencies and universities providing guidance in export procedures, regulatory control and compliance.

He graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Economics and Master of International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He was 1 of 5 Americans to receive a full Japanese government scholarship to study International Market Research at Keio University in Tokyo, the leading Business School in Asia.

Joe was the International Trade Manager for the State of Virginia providing assistance for export management, marketing and best business practices covering export control support and compliance training and procedures manuals and led many overseas businesses and delegation trade missions to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America

Are you sure you’re using the right documents for your exports?

When you know how to properly prepare your export paperwork, your goods will ship on time, you’ll get paid more quickly, and you’ll stay compliant with export and import regulations. Find out how by downloading this free guide.

Get Your Copy


Subscribe to the Newsletter!

Join the 33,143 other exporters and importers who get the latest news, tips and insights from international trade professionals.