How to find overseas customers for import-export business

How to Find Overseas Customers for Your Export Business?

One of the biggest concerns of every company that wants to start exporting is to find customers. Finding customers can be one of the first obstacles you have to overcome for many people or companies who are trying to get into international trading.

But nowadays there are plenty of options that you can take advantage of and discover new opportunities overseas. Always keep an eye on how to find customers for export products. If you can’t identify customers, all your efforts and works will be vain.  

Southeast Asia / Bangkok-Thailand

So, after you identify the product or service that you want to export to foreign countries like ASEAN countries, you will need local contacts to complete your international trade business.

You can find clients interested in a variety of goods or services and increase your profit significantly. Here are the main ways to increase your global buyers’ list and become successful in the foreign trade business!

1- Start with a good and in-depth market research

Market research is crucial to any success in the import-export business, and it is important not to neglect this phase. When it comes to how to find overseas customers for export business, the knowledge you gather can make a great difference.

Of course, the first option of research is online research which can give you a lot of information about your future international trading process. There are plenty of websites and forums that can help you but also many local importers looking for foreign exporters just like you!

The B2B portal will put you in contact with plenty of importers looking for new partners. But you will not be able to do that unless you find a reliable importer or company to help you with the process.

There is a trick though, especially when you are looking for business partners online: you need to watch out for scammers. Unfortunately, on such popular websites like the B2B portal, you may find plenty of importers that do not look trustworthy. However, after some time, you shall be able to identify the real importers and spot the potential scammers.

Keep in mind to check the internet for more information about potential importers. You can find a reliable website and even some reviews to put your mind at ease.

Keeping in touch with other exporters will help you as well. You can find forums with different topics for foreign exporters like you. And you might be amazed to see that many successful exporters can refer you to a good importer that you can trust. You have even higher chances if your products are different than others because this type of business is based a lot on the competition. Stay active and vigilant on such forums and try to analyze your options before starting any serious collaboration with a potential client.

After you finished your online market research and choosing some potential markets for your products, you need to research more deeply and maybe you need to visit local markets for your research.

But you have to never forget it, market research is a very important component of your export business strategy. So you don’t hesitate to work with professional companies in this field. This cooperation protects you from many threats. It saves you money and time. Our sister company FUTURESIA Global Trade ready to help you with your market research activities with experienced staff. 

2- Invest in your brand awareness

Even before you start looking for importers to fulfill your import-export business, you have to invest in yourself. Make your company visible and attractive for your export buyers by investing in your brand awareness. Let’s look at how we can improve your brand’s awareness together.


Your logo is also very important as it has to be easily recognized worldwide but also adapted to specific countries. For instance; if you want to enter an ASEAN country, consider using a logo that will catch the local’s attention and won’t pass by unnoticed.


It is an investment worth making especially if you are planning to break into foreign markets. Your official website should have important information about your company such as contact information and offers for your future buyers.

Keep in mind that your clients should find everything they need on your website as this is your business card. It means you will need a professional website with very clear information on it.

Many companies do have not websites that intent to exports. They only have websites in their local languages. If you want to export and market your product or service abroad, you must have at least one foreign language website. This language will be in English, of course. It can be added in different languages according to the targeted markets.

In addition to the language of the website, content, and design are very important in finding customers. It should contain detailed information about your products. It should be written by or translated by a professional person, please do not use translating programs. Also, your website needs to be easy to use, so user-friendly. Your company’s official title and brand, landline, phone, and e-mail address to contact you must be specified on your website.


Also, consider investing in an SEO campaign to reach more of your target audience through the content of your website. Use keywords and links to become more popular among the best search engines. All these tricks and tips can be applied by your co-workers but also by hiring a professional SEO team that can help you in the long run.

Social Media

Social media now plays an important role in our lives. Depending on your industry and product, you may need to be involved in more than one social media channel. My advice is to take part in all of them at the beginning. Everyone gives a different kind of social media to the same extent.

Some people only use Facebook while some people use only Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin. Being active in these channels about your company and your products will enable you to reach more people and thus find more customers.  

I also recommend that you make your own Youtube channel available for your product or services. If you can not do these works by yourself, you can find professional support who is providing social media marketing services.


Have a blog about your company and your industry. Are you launching a new product, joining a fair? Create and publish a blog post right away. You can run the blog on your website, use services, like Google Blogger, be a guest writer on other blogs or write an article on popular articles sites like Ezine ArticlesBuzzleGoArticles.

The blog is a very powerful media, a must-use. If you can not write a professional blog or have not time for this work. You can work with a professional blog writer. Publishing a blog post is one of the most powerful components to finding an answer to our question “How to Find Overseas Customers for Your Export Business”.  

B2B Sites

Register with global B2B sites and quality local business guides such as KompassExport Bureau, and Alibaba.

Online Ads

Place ads on Google and Yandex that match your keywords. It is also very useful to advertise quality niche sites about your field.

You can be informed about the activities of this committee as a member of the main groups of exporters’ associations, chambers of commerce, and trade associations.

Trade Shows

Join the fairs. Fair participation is a great activity that you can exhibit your products, talk to potential customers, even deal with them on the spot.

Sectoral Publications

You can use sectoral publications (magazines, newspapers, guides, web portals) in two ways. First, you advertise – this attracts potential customers and makes your friends with publishers. Some publishers can get great information about the market players. They will gladly provide you with this information if you are their advertiser.

Second, you can find your customers by reviewing these publications. Since there is a B2B trade, your customers can also advertise in several industry magazines and newspapers to reach their customers. Therefore, examining sectoral magazines can lead you to your prospective customers. Similarly, you can also examine fair catalogs and internet ads.

Online and Offline Business Networks

These networks may be online or offline, local or global, association, or company. They aim to create interaction between members, to benefit from the advantages of acting as a union. If you think about the possibilities that even a business relationship can create, the membership fees you will pay for these networks are of no importance.

Public Relations

Having a professional PR team is going to help you a lot while you are building your brand awareness. Also, applying different strategies can increase your odds to be successful from a marketing point of view.

Your PR department will make sure to be actively involved in these strategies and research the market to build you a great slogan and campaign.

This type of marketing will help you reach new customers around the world and even develop your business by entering new markets. And if you neglect your brand awareness, you may risk not reaching the business potential that you aim for.

The language that you use in your PR campaign can make a difference as well. Try to be aware of local languages before advertising in a certain country. You can also add some local words to your campaign so that people will relate to your brand more than they do to others.

And the competition in this market is high, so you have to be as original as possible. Either way, good PR will act like a magnet when it comes to bringing new customers to you, so it is well worth the investment!

Commercial Counselor or Trade Development Agencies

Consult with your commercial counselor or trade development agencies who are located in your target market. Many trade consultants are extremely helpful in these matters. It is possible to reach the list of companies engaged in importing your sector. If you request information with HS code, you can get a more focused list.

Once you have a list, you need to contact each potential customer. You can do this by sending an e-mail or fax. You can send an article promoting your company and products. Companies interested in your products will contact you.

This method, although I would suggest that you probably made this study for your competitors, you can also come up with your competitors based on the customer. Although it is not a very effective method, it can be tried in the beginning because of its low cost.

E-mail Marketing

Email marketing is also a great PR strategy that can bring you, new clients, if you are using it well. You can purchase databases with different importers and even important local stores, and you can start negotiating with them and identify the best to start a long-term collaboration with.

Having access to such databases can be pricey, but it is all worth it once your profit starts increasing. And the good news is that they can bring you a new customer in a matter of weeks from accessing them!

Online Sales

Think that every investment that you make in the beginning phase of your business is going to bring you more positive outcomes shortly and it is never lost as long as you do it wisely. You can find databases for sale online, but you need to pay attention to how authentic they are because it is a high risk of fraud when you purchase one from an unknown or uncertified website!

3. Make the customers you already have a number one priority

Even if your main concern might be to reach more customers, you have to pay attention to the clients that you already have. Most often than not, your current clients will open new opportunities for you to reach new ones. How can that happen? Happy clients will always bring you new ones by referring your business to others that are interested in buying similar products.

It is a very popular form of PR, considering that good advertising is always beneficial when you need to increase your database of customers. And when it comes to how to get foreign clients, the key might be to your current clients.

Make sure to get good reviews from your current customers and make them public. You can also allocate a section of testimonials on your website so that new customers can see what others think of your business.

If you try to keep your customers faithful and satisfied, your chances to break into new markets will increase and so will your profit. You can do that by adjusting your offers to their needs and make sure that the import-export business works for both yours and their benefit.

Usually, your importers will know other importers as well and will not hesitate to recommend your business to them if they are happy with your services. However, if it happens to have a client that is not satisfied with an import-export business with you, make sure to take the necessary actions to correct the outcome. One client that is not satisfied should be a big red flag for you and your future commercial adventure.

A new potential client will always check your past activity and reviews before even contacting you. Some of them might also get in touch with your previous customers to gather more information before they decide to get in contact with you. This is a way to lose or gain clients before you even become aware of them.

4. Get familiar with the local market’s needs

Staying informed is essential when you are hunting for new customers for your import-export business. An overseas market introduction service will help you identify the main needs of the market that you want to break into. Get familiar with the goods that the local market needs and evaluate your potential to supply them.

Most of the time, researching the market will also put you in contact with potential buyers. There are many guides that you can read to determine the viability of your business as well as gather information about local importers.

Talking with local importers can also help you adapt your business according to their needs to have better deals for your future profit. In any case, you can only benefit from this type of research, and your business can significantly increase under the indirect guidance of the importers.

While you are researching the local market that you want to break into, make sure also to stay informed regarding the legal aspects of it. Be aware of the paperwork required during an import-export process and understand that such regulations can defer from a category of goods to another which is why details always matter in this type of business.

But don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of information that you might come across because you can deal with it better once you have your importer and buyer’s export. It is a hard work process but well worth it in the end!

5. Start following embassies fairs and economic changes in the local market

Sometimes, the authorities will offer you better answers than any other research ways. Make sure to check the official websites of different institutions such as embassies or even local ports to identify the opportunities that you are looking for.

You might be amazed to discover that there are plenty of events organized for import-export business such as thematic fairs that you can participate in.

At such events, you can identify importers and buyers that will become your future international trading partners and change the course of your business altogether! Since the import-export process is usually in the good name of a country’s economy, the chances are that authorities will do their best to facilitate this process and put foreign exporters in touch with trustworthy local importers.

Another advantage that you can obtain by being present at such fairs and subscribing to embassies’ websites is the possibility to find a buyer’s agent. It can help you a lot while you are trying to break into a new ASEAN country because they will act as a mediator between you and potential buyers. By having such an agent, you can be almost sure that you will avoid possible scammers and only deal with honorable local importers.

Usually, buyers’ agents tend to receive a percentage of the transaction that they facilitate which is fair, but it is also a small price to pay for a lot more benefits that you can enjoy. To find such an agent, you can check the embassies’ forums since they are very active there, looking for clients. You can for sure find them at the fairs that we mentioned above and also through local importers that you might already know or work with.

Buyers’ agents will help you find customers to sell your goods from all categories, and they will also speed up the formalities and negotiation phase. But there are many other reasons why you should consider working with a buyer’s agent especially if you are a small business.

Many small business ideas involve cooperating with an agent until you get familiar with the import-export process which can take from several months to several years. A mediator can make this process a lot easier for you as well as they can also help you skip different obstacles that you can find on the way.

You can get membership from local councils as well regarding export information as well as have access to a list of importers. It will be information that will help you significantly especially if you are entering a new market.

Official memberships can grant you access to different facilities and also make a big difference for your business and your contact list since you will be meeting a lot of people that you can work with.


Congratulations! You have officially learned the steps of how to find overseas customers for your export business. Now start booming and make the world your business!

Also, if you would like to learn more about international trade, here is a link to our international trade for beginners guide. You can also watch videos on my YouTube channel.

Now I would like to hear your thoughts:

What’s your first takeaway lesson from this article?

Or maybe you have a question about the topic.

Either way, leave a comment below right now.

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Hi everyone! Murat here. I’m an entrepreneur who learned about global business because I had to. Like so many other people who have faced hardships in their jobs, I was forced to adapt—and quickly—to support myself and my family. Today, I’m well into my career.
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