The internet has placed global business within the reach of vast numbers of Chinese SMEs. But trying to establish business relationships that span cultural and language divides can be difficult. Many attempts to reach out to new markets will end in failure. Yet many of these failures could be avoided by careful preparation. Here are our tips for making a successful first approach to a foreign customer.
1. Research your targets
The essence of effective marketing is to identify and satisfy the customer’s requirements. Ensuring that you fully understand the customer’s needs and your ability to deliver an appropriate solution is absolutely essential.
A common mistake made by over-keen marketers is to send out marketing messages to any email addresses they run across, without thinking about whether their product is likely to be of interest to that potential customer. We are regularly offered things like machine parts, plastic mouldings and electrical lighting – none of which, as a PR agency, are of any use to us at all.
The result of unsolicited, inappropriate emails is predictable – they are flagged as spam and deleted. At best, you will have tarnished the reputation of your company; at worst, you might find your company added to a blocked domains list so that any subsequent messages will not even be delivered. Either way, it’s a marketing disaster that can be easily avoided by proper research and a good understanding of your product and your customers.
2. Understand your business arena
Another mistake we see often is companies trying to market their products to overseas competitors. This is clearly a pointless exercise that can deliver no possible benefit. Not only does it demonstrate to your competitors (and their customers) that you have no understanding of the market, but messages like this often cause great annoyance. At the very least, you do not want your marketing strategy or pricing to be known to your competitors!
3. Web-based email accounts lack credibility
Trust and credibility are absolutely essential in the marketing process. Your potential customer has to be confident that you are reputable company, and part of this trust-building process is your online presence and the way you communicate. Remember, your potential customer knows nothing about you apart from what they can find online.
It is very common for Chinese business people to use web-based email accounts such as Yahoo. While there may be good reasons for this, you should be aware that unsolicited email from such sources is treated with a great deal of suspicion by western recipients. This is particularly true when the sender is only identified by a single forename or a random string of letters. Not only does this look very unprofessional to western eyes, but in the majority of cases, it will ensure the email is deleted unopened.
When communicating by email, always try to use mail from your business domain and make sure you identify yourself appropriately using your full name or the name of your company. Presenting yourself professionally should at least ensure your message is opened.
4. Use professional translators for your opening pitch
Minor mishaps with English are usually not a problem once you have an established relationship with your customer. But for your initial marketing, you will usually have just one chance, so it’s vital that you make your pitch clearly and well. For this reason, you should not rely on in-house or inexperienced translators. Here’s a couple of genuine examples of how NOT to approach a potential customer for the first time:
“Dear my friend, …Interested in XXXXX from China? …want to get the most for your money? XXXX can get your above dreams come true.”
“Dear Sir or Madam, How are you? I hope your everything is going well. Don’t you wanna get a good opportunity of business corperation? It’s a win-win in the future.”
Specialist business translators will do a much better job at crafting your initial approach and ensure you come across as credible. Avoid machine translation for your marketing communications.
5. Never send attachments unless they have been requested
To most people, file attachments in unsolicited emails mean just one thing: viruses. The fastest way to ensure your marketing message is trashed unopened is to attach a spreadsheet or Word document to it.
Eido PR is a specialist technical PR and marketing agency that can help you connect with new customers in Europe and Asia. We offer a wide range of consultancy and marketing services and we’d be delighted to talk to you about your needs and how we can help you achieve success overseas. Please visit our website www.eido-pr.eu for more information or click here to contact us.