Expert Insights: Sofia Bensily on Adapting your Value Proposition for New Markets

The Rainmaking Expand: South Korea program is progressing smoothly, with the first couple of weeks producing valuable insights and helping the startups in the program to evolve their approach to the South Korean market.

In this series of articles, we will be covering some of the insights and learnings from the program by sitting down with the different speakers to hear their thoughts on the topics they specialise in.

In today’s post, we chat with Sofia Bensily from the Rainmaking team on the topic of adapting your value proposition to new markets. Sofia ran our value proposition workshop in the program, helping the startups to understand what they should consider when looking to adapt their business to a new market.

So thank you so much Sofia for joining us and for the workshop you ran with the Rainmaking Expand: South Korea program. For everyone reading this, would you be able to give us a self-introduction?

Sofia: I’m Sofia Bensily and I’m a Venture Architect at Rainmaking! I’m on the Venture Building team and we focus on partnering with Fortune 500 companies to launch new corporate ventures to build disruptive businesses for tomorrow. My motivation for doing what I do is being able to drive massive positive impact with the ventures we build for the future, starting with today.

Thank you! As we talked a lot about entering new markets in your workshop, would you be able to share with us what you think is a common mistake that startups make when expanding, and how they could potentially avoid it?

Sofia: Not just startups but even big corporates make this mistake: We sometimes assume that what works in our home country / the previous country will work just as well in another part of the world. So they copy-paste from one country to another, totally different country and culture. They take the same product, the same advertising campaign, even the same brand names and packaging, and expect instant success. The result in most cases is failure. Why? Because the assumption that one approach works everywhere fails to consider the complex mosaic of differences that exists between countries and cultures. With a few exceptions, the idea of an identical, fully standardized global value proposition is a myth, and few industries are truly global. Knowing how to adapt a value proposition in the most effective manner is, therefore, a key strategic issue. Based on your business expansion strategy, adapting your value proposition may very well be the stepping stone that helps you find PMF quickly.

That is incredibly true, and I am sure many of us on the Rainmaking Expand team will completely agree with you. Copying and pasting a strategy into a new country and culture often leads to failure.

So based on that, as well as the insights you shared with the startups on the program. What are your three tips for adapting your value proposition for a new market?

Sofia: My top 3 tips would be:

1. Never be afraid to think again – Be humble and don’t shy away from the possibility of change / adaptation

We all have blind spots in our knowledge and opinions, and don’t be afraid to question assumptions that may have held true in one market, which may or may not hold true in your new market. Focus less on what you want to sell and more on what your new set of customers really need and how best you can deliver value to them in a meaningful way. Above all else remember, if we don’t deliver what the customer cares about, no matter how beautiful, it will die. If you deliver something your customer loves, they’re more likely to stick with us.

2. KNOW your customer

Take time to identify who your target customers are, recognise their similarities and differences from your target customers in your previous market. Test your assumptions – especially the risky ones! And take time to reach out and talk to your customers to develop a ground-up understanding of them and know them like the back of your hand – don’t forget to take into account cultural nuances which do play a strong role in the market, especially in Asia. Having a strong understanding of your customer in the new market will form the basis of all other elements of your business from your value proposition to the execution of your business model.

3. Take a holistic view of your customer

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, you’re selling to humans (for now). Besides functional propositions, don’t forget to take into account social and emotional jobs that they’re looking to get done. Or even different environments that they might operate in. All of these other factors may carry significant weight in their decision to purchase your product or service. How can you play into that and deliver value that goes above and beyond what they’re used to? Always remember, our goal is to build “killer businesses” that is, painkillers designed to eliminate customers’ biggest frustrations – not just vitamins that might address ambiguous pains. We must deliver solutions that customers are excited to pay for. Only by truly understanding the market and environments in which customers operate in are we able to imagine and build businesses that create the most value for them.

Thank you so much Sofia for joining us and sharing so much amazing knowledge with us!

Read more in our Expert Insights Series

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Written by
Meghan Bridges
June 7, 2022
Marketing Director, Rainmaking Expand