Marketing Strategy

Going global? These free tools can help get you started on your export strategy

Are you hoping to export for the first time? Or perhaps your small business exports to one country and you want to know: What are the most strategic markets to target next?

What online tools can help you find new markets? And how can you use trade data and other information to make more informed decisions in your strategy?

Fortunately, the U.S. government provides a number of free resources to get you started on the road to becoming a successful exporter, from finding compatible markets to financing your export to discovering international opportunities.

Today, we will talk about a few free tools that help you identify opportunities and get you started on your research.


This free tool comes from the International Trade Administration, and it also relatively new and still in beta. This is a great tool to use if you are already exporting to at least one country and want to identify additional markets.  The ITA says 58% of exporters only export to one country currently so the agency thought it would be helpful to expanding small businesses who are thinking globally.

The tool uses an exporter’s current trade pattern to make recommendations on additional markets you may want to consider.

The Market Diversification Tool quickly produces a report that previously would have taken hours of research across multiple platforms. Taking basic information from exporters, it uses 11 different indicators, runs calculations on those inputs, and produces a ranked list of recommended markets with scores for each country. The ranked list can prepare exporters for more in-depth research and help them find partners in new markets.

The tool allows you to select multiple markets or regions – thus tailoring your search to your needs. The tool shows the data behind each score so you can evaluate the results more deeply. It also  provides links to other Department of Commerce resources and  delivers a list of recommendations for further research, such as a data source for the tariffs you may face.

“The new Market Diversification Tool by the International Trade Administration is built on the same fundamental concept as the analysis we conduct for the Export Marketing Plan: use indicators for calculation in an algorithm to produce a prioritization ranking of countries by potential. I consider this tool to be quite innovative because this is the first time I have seen this analysis concept offered for free to the public,” Shelly Bernal, a consultant with the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development within FIU’s College of Business. She uses the tool and others to help small businesses with their export strategies.

Find the Market Diversification Tool here.


USA Trade Online, part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s, is the official source of trade data, and it’s available to you after you’ve registered on the site. This data tool gives you access to U.S. export and import data, and it is updated every month.

Most importantly, USA Trade Online can be used to make customized reports, in which you can combine commodities, countries, states, ports or time periods into customized groupings for your data needs. You can save your reports and have them updated automatically as the data is updated. You can also sort or export the data to you own computer.

“The USA Trade Online tool is much easier to use now than ever before and the search capabilities are significantly better,” Bernal said. “These improvements make it faster to compile useful and relevant trade flow data.”

Find USA Trade Online here.


Global Market Finder is a relatively new tool made available on The tool provides companies with a simple way to identify potential new export markets, and is most useful for small and medium sized businesses. The tool is still in beta testing but available to users.

With multiple data sets and capabilities, a small business can choose to filter by specific country or year and the data visualizations will update based on their selections. The agency recommends that you search a few different ways to focus in on the type of markets you want to consider. For instance, you could search among big markets, fast growing markets or the ones easiest to export to. You could look at a particular region too. There is information on the website on how to do that.

Find the Global Market Finder here.

USA Trade Online and the Global Market Finder are complementary to the Market Diversification tool because the Market Diversification Tool makes recommendations on additional markets rather than displaying trade data using internal algorithms. The MDT uses international trade data rather than U.S. trade data that USA Trade Online and the Market Finder use.

Here’s a webinar that explains all three tools and how to use them in more depth.

These free tools are just a starting point for your export research. Watch this space for a second post about ways the Florida SBDC at FIU can help you dive deeper into market research to formulate a winning export strategy.

UPDATE: Here is the next post about taking a deeper dive into market research.

Please send GrowBiz topic suggestions and feedback to GrowBiz@FIU.EDU.

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