Kiwi firms are getting better at building their unique New Zealand brands overseas, but need to prioritise their marketing with getting deals done.

That's the advice from marketing experts who say that building a New Zealand brand helps firms to secure deals in offshore markets.

The New Zealand Story helps Kiwi businesses draw on their New Zealandness to better succeed internationally, by explaining New Zealand's unique story, and enabling exporters and influencers to make it their own.

Its director Rebecca Smith said exporters face stiff competition in offshore markets where consumers have a lot of choice.


"New Zealand businesses need to differentiate themselves from the pack by sharing a compelling story that expresses our unique New Zealand perspective.

"This provides a customer with a deeper reason to believe and chose your brand," said Smith, who before heading NZ Story held executive marketing roles at Fonterra and BNZ.

Her top tip for firms is to consider why a customer would choose their business, and then develop and test the story until it works.

"Kiwi businesses are often so busy hunting the deal that they spend very little time thinking about the consumer, the user, and how their business meets their need," she said.

"It's important to seek insights into target markets. How do consumers or buyers view New Zealand in that region? Then think about what they need that you provide, and why they would choose you over a local provider," said Smith.

Singapore-based strategic marketing expert, Anne Lochoff, provides mentoring and feedback to Kiwi firms exporting in the Southeast Asia region through New Zealand Trade and Enterprises (NZTE) Beachheads programme.

Lochoff chairs the Southeast Asia Beachheads network of 21 private sector advisors, and said Kiwi firms often think of marketing as a one-off project, but it needs to be part of a company's ongoing strategy.

She recommends tapping into blogger networks in offshore markets and building up online communities to use as research and development tools.

"This is a real investment in marketing where the asset is yours, and it's not a one-off approach to marketing where you do a campaign and exit out. A network or community will service you while you're in market and out of the market," said Lochoff.

She said exporters need to target a niche for their products in each city and country of Southeast Asia, and have a robust marketing strategy for each market.

NZ International Business Awards

Businesses keen to test their story and tell it to a wide audience can enter the New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA).

This marks the 50th year of the prestigious awards, run by NZTE, which celebrate the success of New Zealand businesses on the world stage and recognise excellence and innovation.

Firms entering the NZIBA choose one of three main categories depending on their size, and can also enter any of the six special categories.

The special category Excellence in Marketing recognises success in developing and commercialising innovation in international markets, and is supported by sponsor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Powershop won this category last year.

Entries for the NZIBA are open, and close July 8. To find out more about the awards click here.