Getting Down to Business in China

06Nov09

China and other fast-growing economies in the Far East are becoming lands of opportunity to an increasing number of Western marketing communications agencies whose clients are facing the worst local markets in decades. What should be taken into account in agencies with clients looking to expand to China?

First of all, it would be good to control expectations and try to understand the reality on the ground in China. While the upside potential is undeniable, it takes time, patience, as well as smart planning and execution.

Clients looking for a fast return in the first few quarters often fail. Focusing on one key starter project seems to be the best way to ‘enter’ China. Long-term brand building and doing things incrementally will pay off later.

Tips for selecting a partner

When selecting a partner agency established in China to help with marketing campaigns, a couple of tips might be useful.

 

  • For B2B businesses there may not be a perfect match agency who is working the same industry. So, rather work on a project with an agency that is flexible and has general marketing knowledge across related sectors.

 

  • It is important to realize that Hong Kong and the mainland (Shanghai, Beijing, etc) are still quite distinct and agencies generally work well on one side or another. Besides that, the usual caveats apply that would be applicable to any agency search in Europe or the US.

 

  • China certainly is not an easy market to enter. From the Chinese name of the brand, to the colors in the logo, to the website design that may turn off the target customer, there are a lot of potential pitfalls that a locally-based agency can help circumnavigate. A good China agency should be able to work closely with the lead agency to maintain the brand, but enable it with “Chinese characteristics”.

 

 

Submitted by Heikki Hakala, Executive Adviser at Recommended Finland

(Heikki Hakala, Executive Adviser at Recommended Finland, recently visited China and met with Mike Golden, Managing Director of Adsmith China. The two agencies have entered into a partnership on several Recommended Finland projects. Golden offered some advice for agencies wanting to enter the market in China.)

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