Getting noticed: How to build strong brand awareness for your new China company
Companies entering the China market often dream of the sort of supercharged
brand awareness that eclipses the competitors and becomes so ubiquitous that
it enters everyday language. But brand awareness doesn’t have to reach the
status of Hoover or Google to be successful. Local companies here in China
that have gone from nothing to household names have done so by identifying
their ideal customer, offering them sustained engagement and value without
appearing to sell, and then harnessing that loyalty by exceeding customers’
expectations. So let’s look at three key principles which are not only cost-effective
but crucial to the sort of engagement every company in China should be chasing.
1. Create a customer persona:
Put some time and effort into the process of understanding exactly who your ideal customer is. By understanding your buyer persona, a company entering the Chinese market is then able to create a series of messages focusing on its unique offering and philosophy. As its understanding of the ideal customer base develops, so too does your message and brand. The key takeaway here is that, whatever your service or product, if you don’t connect with your ideal customers on an emotional level and ‘speak their language’ by understanding their aspirations, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to persuade them to do anything, let alone part with their money.
2. Promote content marketing:
Put simply, to have a presence in the digital world, you need to have content. And the main aim of content marketing is to talk to your existing and potential customers from a position of trust so that you can get across the benefits of your brand without the turn-off of a straight sales approach.
Customers want to be engaged by each interaction, and they expect to take away some value from that engagement – but this is not as easy as it sounds. So how do you achieve this? The answer is: don’t sell but become a recognized expert. If you’re regularly offering fresh and unique content, there’s much more chance that visitors will share that content across the internet, in the process generating increased traffic and leads.
One of the most effective content formats to increase visitors to your website is a blog. It can not only supercharge your SEO, but also greatly increase lead generation. Visitors who can take away some value from their experience are much more likely to convert into prospects and customers. Other forms of content, such as infographics, videos and apps, can also be effective. As a bonus, when compared to outbound marketing (paid advertising, trade shows, cold calling, etc.), content marketing comes in at a fraction of the cost.
But whichever content marketing format you choose – and it makes sense to add some variety to stand out from the crowd – the key lesson here is to promote it. Remember, building a brand is a process, not a one-off. So promote new quality content regularly and often, and it will help you build strong and sustainable brand awareness. In China understand what channels to use, for example Wechat or Weibo, to promote your content, your services and your products. And make sure everything is in the Chinese language.
3. Create brand advocates:
As marketing author Bob Fuggetta notes in his book “Brand Advocates”, ‘brand advocates are your most loyal, passionate and engaged customers, and your best marketers.’ According to Fuggetta, they are 10 times more effective than any weapon in your marketing arsenal, and smart marketers are harnessing their advocates to turn them into powerful marketing forces.
Brand advocacy is based exclusively on customers’ experiences of engaging and interacting with your brand. Successful brands will therefore go way beyond merely satisfying their customers but will exceed customer expectation to deliver an experience that blows the customer away.
So identify your advocates by asking the question: ‘how likely are you to recommend my brand?’ Then sustain your efforts to energize them so that they follow through. Remember, building a brand is a process, so it pays to keep in mind that this is a strategic and on-going effort. But the power of advocacy can’t be overestimated, and one of the reasons it’s so powerful is partly down to trust.
Another reason advocates can be so effective is their sheer force of numbers: the global cybersecurity software company Symantec found that 60–65% of its customers were highly likely to recommend its products to others, and with over 50 million customers worldwide, that’s more than 30 million brand advocates building your brand and selling your products on your behalf.
The key takeaway here is that with minimal spend, it’s possible to react to a situation to create enhanced brand awareness if you treat your brand building as an on-going process. The key is to stay on top of it for as long as you’re in business.
Understand, engage and harness
Potential companies that are entering the Chinese or are already in the Chinese market should appreciate that brands aren’t built overnight, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. In fact, as the key actions above demonstrate, the process of developing your brand – by understanding your customer, engaging with them and harnessing their loyalty – is well within your grasp. In fact, it can be done far more effectively, and at a lower cost, than many other forms of marketing or advertising.
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DISCLAIMER: All information in this article is verified to the best of our ability and is assumed to be correct at time of release; however, Woodburn Accountants & Advisors does not accept responsibility for any losses arising from reliance on the information provided within. The information provided is for general guidance and does not replace specialized advice.