2012 has been a challenging, exciting, sometimes frustrating, but very good year for us in the Open to Export team. It’s fair to say for the UKTI members of our team, there have been some major changes to our roles since last December. We’ve added customer management, social media marketing, content management and other skills involved in the development and launch of a new web service to our CVs!
Here are our highlights for 2012.
1. The jump forward in questions asked between October and November.
We launched Open to Export officially on 29th October. After months of beta testing and development over the summer, we were getting decent numbers of unique visitors, but not many people were actually asking questions on the website. Then we took part in Explore Export week during early November. This was a series of events in five of the regions where exporters or potential exporters could meet with international trade specialists. Michelle and our hibu colleagues grabbed the opportunity to join in on this tour of the UK and promote Open to Export. The number of questions asked on the site shot up as a result of them talking to so many UK companies.
2. Showing Open to Export to UKTI CEO Nick Baird, and Lord Green
Its always quite scary when you are presenting the results of your hard work to your CEO and a Minister. What if they ask lots of questions? What if they don’t like it? What if they decide that it shouldn’t go any further? Fortunately, after a 10 minute demonstration, Nick Baird and Lord Green really liked Open to Export. They asked lots of positive questions and were very enthusiastic. In fact, Lord Green said that he would spread the word through Whitehall and encouraged us to tweet about it via the Number 10 feed!
3. Furniture with beech components to Australia
This is one of our favourite questions so far. We’ve had questions on many diverse products such as sheep skins to China and darts to the Asia Pacific markets. Our first (and so far only) question for Australia asked about the rules of exporting furniture with beech components to Oz. We emailed Scott, our market champion. He was out of the office at a trade show. So was Jim Thompson, our co-champion. We were about to despair when a brilliant answer came out of the blue from Joe Dodd, who is a member of the team in Melbourne. See below. It shows that Scott and Jim had briefed their colleagues about Open to Export before their tradeshow so that someone could jump in if any questions arrived. They have set a great example for other markets.
We wouldn’t have been able to provide such a good customer service without the support of our champions in the regions and in post. They have quickly got to grips with answering questions promptly on Open to Export and have been great at spreading the word to their UK companies and stakeholders.
4. Establishing relationships with a large number of private sector partners
Jenny and Anthony have been very busy meeting with high profile companies to show them the website and persuade them to post valuable content on there. We already have content streamed through live from the UK Trade & Investment. Organisations such as Santander, HMRS, the Law Society and the Institute of Export have also added their knowledge and expertise.
5. Anytime a UK company has said “This looks really useful”
We have been to a lot of trade shows and conferences this year. We have visited Munich, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Bristol, Sheffield and many other places in our efforts to promote our new web service. On the whole, we’ve had great feedback. It has been lovely to hear comments like:
“Why hasn’t there been anything like this before?”
“Good site, isn’t it?”
” We could post our event on here”.
“Definitely worth knowing about”
Nice to know that they like it:) This doesn’t mean that we’re going to rest on our laurels. We’re currently in discussion about new and exciting developments taking place next year and we will also be hitting the road again at events such as The International Autosport show at the NEC and Mobile World Congress, spreading the word!
Everyone in the Open to Export team wishes you all a Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.
Open to Export Team