‘China is big. China is different.’ Nicolas Chu, CEO and Founder of Sinorbis kicked off the first session in an exciting series of events by declaring that businesses are not prepared for how big or how different the Chinese business space is. This first event, entitled Learn how to acquire Chinese consumers through digital marketing, explored the issues Australian companies face when attempting to do business in a market that is radically different from everything they’ve encountered to date. The key takeaway? Everything you thought you knew about digital marketing — social media best practices, SEO, eCommerce sites, online reputation management — needs to be reimagined. Digital marketing in China is a whole new field and you need be knowledgeable and equipped before you enter the game.
Chu discovered this for himself in a former life. As the global President of HotelClub, he saw first-hand the double-edged sword that the Chinese market presents to foreign organisations. He acknowledged, ‘throughout my interactions in China, I realised how difficult it was to do anything there, but also saw the incredible opportunity.’
These insights lead Chu and his partner, Allen Qu, to set up Sinorbis, a company that acts as a conduit for Australian businesses and the Chinese market. In his work he sees businesses that sit at both ends of the spectrum — those who view China as the Holy Grail and those who view China as a labyrinth. The Holy Grails leap in unprepared, without knowing what doing business in China entails. The Labyrinths are so daunted and afraid of the huge undertaking, that they exclude it from their international expansion plans, and miss out on a great opportunity. Sinorbis hope to challenge both of these perceptions by proactively educating Australian businesses and empowering them to make an informed, considered and successful forays into this exciting new world.
Chu anticipates the discussion will be the first in a series of monthly events at Sinorbis University. The team plans to tackle the practical problems businesses encounter in trying to connect with Chinese customers, by giving them tools and frameworks to implement in their practices. They will also supplement these insights with guest speakers, who will discuss their experiences in operating a business in China, and what they’ve learnt. They also plan to address industry topics as well as examining the quirks of the various digital platforms and how to harness them to best target your ideal customer.
In the first session Chu explored how organisations could derive value from an online market that comprises 25% of the world’s internet population. Using a four-step acquisition model, he explored how businesses can utilise digital platforms at every stage of this process to transform strangers into loyal brand advocates. Citing The University of Tasmania, as an example, he explained how they applied this methodology to transform their operations. Some of the measures included: the decision to host their site in China, creating highly targeted content, integrating their Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and Youku with their site and offering a special deal at the decision stage — They emailed Chinese students who had started the application process, free three-month English classes if they completed their application. Their revamped digital strategy proved so successful, that student recruitment increased by 44%, showing that the market can be very fruitful, if you have the right understanding and the right plan.
The first session proved to be an engaged, thoughtful and considered discussion. Those who participated were eager to learn how they could extract the real value from social media channels as well as gain a better understanding of how they could tailor their digital marketing practices to make the most of the opportunity China presents, and came away feeling as though China may be big and it may be different, it isn’t impossible.
If you attended today’s conference or have a topic you’d like us to go over, we’d love your feedback in the comments below, or if you’d like to learn more about how to better reach Chinese customers, then you should check out our free guide below!