Secrets to Success in China Marketing - Marketing in China via Video and In-Real-Life Education / Training
“ How Can I Understand, Unless Someone Explains It to Me?” - unnamed man
As humans we love to learn about different things that interest us – food, art, technology, foreign lands, various plants & animals, how to improve our life and how to help others. It is also said that a truly wise man is not only a good teacher but also very persuasive with his words.
China has many (MANY) in its population with a growing (GROWING) disposable income.
However, these same people are not familiar with many aspects of Western culture, brands, foods, drinks, products, technologies etc. Thus, there is a big need for educating the masses about various cultures, products, foods, drinks, technologies etc... So, how about also teaching about your company, your products or services...?
Since China opened for business, there are countless cases of the proverbial “rags to riches” business stories. Literally going from horse and cart to Maserati and Porsche. Forbe's magazine reports that China now has the most billionaires. Time magazine reported that “China recorded 2,378,000 millionaires in 2013,...shooting up 82% from 2012. To put that in perspective, the U.S. only grew 18% during the same period.”
"China has many of the proverbial 'Beverly Hillbilly'."
There are millions upon millions of Chinese that have a growing expendable income but are lacking in familiarity about products that are quite common in the West – such as wines, craft beers, cheese, cooking with beef etc. By far, most Chinese have never cooked a real, beef steak - they are not even familiar with the various cuts of beef as is common in the West. Again, most Chinese have never eaten real cheese – and few have eaten the processed cheese that is slowly making its way into the Chinese rural markets. Let alone the fact that the vast majority that can not appreciate finer nuances of wine – most Chinese have never even tried the white wines (my favorite is German Riesling).
Education and Training as a Marketing Tool in China
Using education and training as a marketing tool is growing in the world, and China has to be the one place in the world with the greatest need and the greatest opportunities for Western companies and traditionally Western products.
Providing training classes – that are really classes and not simply advertising – is a great way to develop good, focused leads and – ultimately – loyal customers for your organization.
"Is good advertising and good marketing all I need?"
No. You also need to have a good product (a good type or style of product, good product quality etc.) and a good price. Brand experience will attract customers to a business and buy products, but will it will ultimately only be successful in the long-term if the business delivers on its promises - and at a competitive price.
It is important for us to realize that there is a big difference between marketing to your Chinese customer and educating him. Many think they're educating and training their consumers simply by explaining their product – its features, advantages, and benefits. The key fact to remember is that what's important to the consumer may not be what the company wants to focus on when discussing its own product. Rather, the Chinese consumer is more interested in what the product can do to help him.
“Help the Chinese consumer - in what way?" - you ask
Help the Chinese consumer... in quality of life, life-skills, work-skills, culture, etiquette, fulfilling needs and interests, self-improvement, social stature, business opportunities etc...
Tips to help you design a productive and effective China marketing campaign utilizing education / teaching / training.
1. Have clear goals:
Design your educational marketing around topics that will lead into sales but in a way that your viewers will benefit and truly appreciate you for sharing.
Clear goals about linking your teaching to your products is key but also do not forget to have clear goals for your potential customers as well. Help them to see the value in this new knowledge or newly acquired skill.
For example, when producing a series of make-up classes it is wise not to simply release classes on the various types of make up or various makeup application skills. But rather have a well-designed and progressing curriculum (that does not feel like a rigid curriculum, but rather a natural, fun and progressive exploration of how to be highly skilled - and highly beautiful).
Additionally, tactfully show them the values they personally gain – beautiful look, professional style, increased respect and opportunities at their place of work, possibly selling (your) makeup as a job/business or becoming a professional makeup artist.
2. Using educational marketing has the potential for much higher ROI than traditional advertising:
A well-designed training system once produced and put online – possibly on your own website and/or on a video-sharing website (such as Youtube, Youku, iQiyi etc.) - can be shared indefinitely for very little or no recurring fees.
If you follow step one and design a great curriculum that people really benefit from, they will share that with others.
Maybe you are selling hair-care products in China and are wanting to increase sales and thus you are providing tips on using curling irons, straightening irons, hair-dyes, ionized blow-dryers, hairspray (remember, China did not have a “big-hair 80s”), etc.
Then, to fully capitalize on your efforts you can host these videos on your own website. But also you will want to take advantage of other video-sharing websites. Of course there are several that are similar to Youtube's style and you can post and share for free. But there are also Chinese video-sharing websites specifically about training such as QQ classes (some of these websites are free, some require payment). Many Chinese utilize such avenues to learn a trade or to hone their work and business skill-sets.
Of course, you want to link all the sites you host your classes on to your sales channels so that you can develop the leads.
3. When appropriate try not to be overly "commercial-like" (try and make it feel brand neutral – at least to a degree):
Simply put, make a cracking educational “commercial” that does not feel like a commercial.
For example, if you are a construction equipment company trying to increase market share in China, then when designing a series of online classes on how to perform the suggested regular maintenance and repairing for your types of equipment, focus on teaching users about how to solve the problem in a generic way – but always using your brand of construction equipment. Have the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keywords focused on the educational aspect and the type of equipment and not so much on the brand name. This will make it more likely for those searching for the skills (and not necessarily your brand) to find your material on the internet.
In the end not being overly preachy or commercial-like will encourage sales of your construction equipment because it will broaden your viewing audience leading to more sales. The repairman will prefer your products because – since you trained him well – he has great confidence ability to perform maintenance and fix your brand of construction equipment in a professional and timely manner. The managers, the purchasing department and foremen will choose it because they see that – since the repairmen are well trained and timely – that your brand of construction equipment is not depreciating in value as quickly as other brands, and also your equipment is not slowing up construction sites with a lot of down time. Additionally, their company's in-house training department can use your classes to train new-hires or for refresher courses etc.
4. Include ideas on how your viewers profit from these newly acquired skills (and your products):
Maybe you are selling food products in China and are wanting to increase sales and thus you are providing tips on cooking various Western style cuisine. Then, to help your viewers profit, you can design a series that will take either or both the typical Chinese “soccer mom” and a person aspiring to be a chef or restaurant owner from novice to professional.
For the moms, focus on the healthy aspects for their kids and family, the social aspects of entertaining foreign (and Chinese) guests. Similarly, have tips and points that those interested in doing business will appreciate. Highlight stories of those that have made successful business being a chef, opening a restaurant, catering service etc.
5. Develop on-going relationships and the leads:
If you followed suggestion number one above and designed a fun and progressive curriculum then you are well on the way to developing an on-going relationship with your viewers.
The other thing needed is to get contact info and develop the leads. Make social networking connections. Think forms, emailing questions/requests, applying for coupons, discounts, advanced classes reserved for members etc. This is one area where WeChat excels – alerting existing contacts to new content, information, coupons and sales. It is important to note, that most Chinese do not use email as we do in the West (if at all). Thus email is useful to a degree but for many campaigns and markets in China it is not very beneficial.
Maybe you are a liquor company and are providing classes on making cocktails – most Chinese only mix liquors with green tea. (No, I am not kidding.) They also like to mix red wine with Coca-Cola. (But I digress.) So... you want get your viewers hooked with useful, fun, well-designed classes that they enjoy watching. Get sincere and interesting hosts that invite the viewers back for the next show as you take them through a series of training. Have an occasional game or competition that is entertaining and has the viewers wanting more. Offer special, extended videos or coupons, shirts and other "schwag" – only after joining your club and sharing their contact details of course.
6. Be Concise, Accurate and Informative:
We have all been through this common, annoying scenario - watching a video to get something specific, but only to find that it is unnecessarily long with useless ramblings from an overly rambunctious host. Ultimately, we end up frustrated at the host (and the brand) for needlessly wasting our time. Additionally, most people lose respect for those that “stretch the truth” about their product. They look unprofessional or desperate by giving inaccurate or falsified info.
Are you a company selling safety equipment in China? Then instead of running down a long list of “dos & don'ts” about safety, along with your products that save the day for each scenario, rather, try and focus on one or two short but useful and informative lessons per class. Having your education series divided into more concise and specific lessons will not only not waste your viewers time but will also help your SEO (search engine optimization) and in the number of shares since each lesson's titles will be more specific and more customer-specific.
Additionally, if you have recorded a long, live training seminar or demonstration etc. then, please, do us all a favor and do some good (very liberal) editing of the video. No one wants to be bored staring at lengthy, unnecessary sections of a live recording.
7. Be fun, entertaining and interesting:
No one likes watching someone who is frowning, depressed, aggravated, boring or in a bad mood do anything, much less repeatedly watch them and look to them as a mentor or for advice.
For instance, let's say you are a bank in the China market looking to increase your piece of the new customer “pie”? And your branch is wanting to develop nice returns from loans and deposits from the ever-growing pool of Chinese entrepreneurs.
How about instead of a commercial with drab number-rattling, you give your audience free classes about developing business plans, classes for startups on common banking needs and possible pitfalls, guides on filing needed paperwork, requesting loans and how to get investors etc.?
This has proven effective in increasing a bank's brand image as well as getting new, long-term and profitable banking clientele. These potential clients – from small beginnings – can turn into major depositors, good and profitable borrowers and coveted repeat business.
When designed well, using education and training as a marketing tool in China has proven itself – repeatedly – to be very successful, with a great ROI for both large-scale and small to medium (SME) sized companies.
Have you thought about how to get your company, products or services to promulgate in the vast China market? Have you considered using education / training as a marketing tool?
Using educational marketing goes hand-in-hand with another effective marketing technique in China – "grass-roots marketing". Feel free to read our article about China Grass-roots Marketing here.