Myths in Business-to-Business Marketing to Chinese Businesses

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Many western companies are unable to effectively market their brand to local Chinese consumers or adapt business approaches to fit local preferences. Best Buy just recently announced that they will be selling its Five Star business to the Jiayuan Group, a prominent China-based real estate firm led by Chairman Yuxing Shen. Considering how difficult it is for highly successful firms to penetrate China’s economic market, the task is even more daunting for U.S business-to-business firms looking to supply Chinese businesses with their products or service. Marketing and Selling to Chinese Businesses is an online article aimed at dispel some of the myths propagated about Chinese business, and explore the reasons behind both successful and unsuccessful marketing and sales approaches in China. Although many foreign organizations are retreating from China, there is no reason why a company with a flexible, patient and ‘listening’ approach to marketing and sales should not succeed in the Chinese market.

For example, Chinese organizations in contrast to some Western markets, the salesperson and more broadly the principle of selling are more widely respected in China. Two issues perhaps lie at the core of this fact: firstly, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people, and secondly the great importance placed on relationships in business decision-making. A good salesman must be adept at forging not only relationships, but also friendships with potential customers. The importance of relationship-building tends to imply a long sales process, requiring of salespeople patience, continual learning and an on-the-ground presence. Given these attributes many businesses in China don’t focus very much on marketing to other businesses and truly only focus on one P; promotion.  Next, the salesperson and more broadly the principle of selling are more widely respected in China. Two issues perhaps lie at the core of this fact: firstly, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people, and secondly the great importance placed on relationships in business decision-making. A good salesman must be adept at forging not only relationships, but also friendships with potential customers. The importance of relationship-building tends to imply a long sales process, requiring of salespeople patience, continual learning and an on-the-ground presence. Finally, Two of the top four requirements of Chinese buyers and business owners – the need for Western companies to prove that they are ‘established’ in the market, and the need for them to demonstrate experience of dealing with similar companies (preferably in China), illustrate the difficulty many Western companies have in gaining the trust of their target audience. As previously noted, ‘business’ trust in China is often developed through relationships. However, important as these are, the first thing any Western company should do is prepare and present comprehensive case studies and client lists for the potential Chinese customer. These should be leveraged to the absolute maximum, and from the earliest possible stage in the relationship. This is in contrast to many Western markets, where past experience is often mentioned in the vaguest terms and references are rarely followed up.

Fitbit Launches First Global Marketing Campaign

Fitbit currently has an overwhelmingly large market share in the activity-trackers category, and it’s available in 40,000 locations in 48 different countries. Fitbit’s unit share of the Full Body Activity Trackers at the end of third quarter 2014 was 69%, according to NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. The dynamic increase in availability and high customer acceptance rate of Fitbit products is truly remarkable considering the company was founded in 2007. However, what is even more impressive is Fitbit has implemented very little advertising for their fitness wearable technology products, yet have seen global success. Tim Rosa, VP-global marketing at Fitbit, announces the company will start a global advertising campaign because of the increasing number of new competitors in the wearable market such as the Apple Watch. “We feel like the category is maturing, so the time felt right to launch a brand and product campaign,” said Tim Rosa. “It’s getting more competitive so we felt like it was a good time to step up our game.” The campaign is a brand-oriented one, but will also feature the new products prominently. “We wanted to create a campaign that says fitness is different for everyone, and you can find your own type of fitness,” said Mr. Rosa. Below is a link to Fitbit’s digital advertisement video.

Fitbit has been active in the digital and PR marketing since its inception, but this campaign will include marketing across all media, including TV with buys on network and cable channels, as well as internationally in Asia-Pacific as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Although Fitbit has shown a positive history of penetrating foreign markets, implementing a successful global marketing campaign is difficult even for the most successful global brands and requires large amounts of capital investment. If Fitbit were to focus their global marketing efforts on developing a global customer engagement model, the firm will undoubtedly realize an increase in global market share. For example, Endomondo is a sports tracker app for your smart phone that is designed to make fitness fun for its users. Although the application has only been available for a couple of years, Endomondo has a current user base of 20 million people and obtained them with only a team of 30 members. Considering Fitbit and Endomondo are closely similar products, Fitbit should consider Endomondo’s approach to continuously improving their customer’s experience while using the app.

Mark Appel’s blog article, “The Future of Marketing: Customer Experience” can help shed light on how Endomondo’s app fosters customer experience through the use of interactive marketing. Once you start to register every single step you start to realize the meaning of the engagement model and entering layered commitments. It is a careful game that is played between the app vendor and the user. Every single step can result in a failure so building trust, offering true value which is relevant and meaningful for the user is key. And although marketing has always been in this area it has changed a lot. With the current state of technology, market transparency and speed the only accepted way of communication is being ultimate authentic. All must be real, true, tangible, valuable. If not, people churn (Appel). In other words, the app is marketing and vice versa, and Fitbit should consider interactive marketing strategies that help advertise the firm’s smart phone application and foster a positive customer experience.

Exact: Winner of the 2014 Markie International Marketing Campaign

Exact is a business solutions company that develops software to support many major business processes such as production, logistics, finance & administration, HR, sales and marketing. Ranging from manufacturing, wholesale & distribution to professional services and accountancy, Exact’s software products are designed to efficiently help businesses manage and access their digital information from anywhere and in real time. The Exact Online platform currently has more than 130,000 companies across five countries doing their accounting in the cloud with extended functionalities for wholesalers, manufacturers and professional services companies. In October of this year, Markie announced Exact as the winner for their International Marketing Campaign category. The Markie Awards is an annual event hosted by Oracle Marketing Cloud that recognizes outstanding achievements in marketing across 12 categories, including IT-marketing collaboration, social marketing, content marketing, marketing metrics and campaign creativity. A good question to ask is what factors does Exact believe are the critical keys to its international marketing success? Mark Appel, Global Marketing Director Cloud Solutions at Exact, took to his LinkedIn page to explain what factors he believes will help B2B companies excel in the ever growing cloud business software industry.

For example, Appel writes that most companies today don’t fully understand the benefit of digital marketing although there are dedicated digital marketing teams formed within these firms. “Especially in somewhat larger companies it seems that specific marketing teams are created to practice so called ‘digital marketing’. Talking with those people digital marketing is about online marketing, marketing automation, SEO, SEA etc. This tells me that senior marketing management still needs to be convinced about the value of the things just mentioned. The only thing at that moment I think is ‘digital marketing’ IS what we currently and only do,” says Appel. This is a very interesting way of perceiving digital marketing and suggests that most firms are still too slow in adapting contemporary marketing strategies. A possible key to success here is that if a firm wishes to internationally market a product, a heavy digital marketing focus is mandatory.

Furthermore, Appel continues to suggest that firms wishing to realize successful international marketing campaigns should start with having a ‘do’ mentality. In order to have a ‘do’ mentality, a marketing team needs to be fully confident that their marketing strategy is going to be well accepted by their customers. Appel explains that the marketing budget him and his team receive for a project is treated as if it is their own money and make well informed decisions based on this belief. Entering new foreign markets are extremely risky and usually require large amounts of spending on marketing efforts. In order to see global success, marketing teams need to conduct proper market research and make sure their financial forecasts are extremely accurate.

By having a mix of high volume within B2B, cloud, ‘digital marketing’ and do-mentality Appel believes these factors set Exact apart from many of the other globally marketed companies. Exact feels the company and the way it market’s itself appeals to many others who want to hear from them and how they operate.

Online video advertisement:

No Breaks: LinkedIn Plans on Creating Another Billion-Dollar Business

Could LinkedIn develop a new business that would become a billion-dollar company in a matter of three short years? Confidential documents were leaked from the company and they provide detailed information about how LinkedIn plans on entering the $50 billion B2B marketing industry and establishing a new B2B marketing business that will be worth 1 billion dollars by the year 2017. B2B marketing is about meeting the needs of other businesses, though ultimately the demand for the products made by these businesses is likely to be driven by consumers in their homes. In July, LinkedIn revealed plans to acquire a business-marketing company called Bizo for about $175 million, moving it a step closer toward its goal of becoming “the most effective online platform for marketers to engage with professionals.” Bizo is an online platform used by B2B marketers to find their target prospects and shape purchasing decisions. The Bizo Marketing Platform enables precise and measurable B2B multi-channel marketing programs. LinkedIn wants to expand beyond its current media and content marketing products to build a B2B marketing platform using a combination of it’s own, and Bizo’s tools.

For example, LinkedIn states in the documents that Bizo B2B marketers can target new audiences, nurture prospects and measure the marketing impact by using the myriad of marketing tools Bizo have developed. Bizo’s marketing tools consist of Bizographics, 85 million subscriptions to business professionals, and Bizo multi-channel nurturing. Bizographics are demographics that Bizo uses to differentiate prospects from each other. The five demographics Bizo uses are company size, location, job function, seniority, and industry. Bizo Multi-Channel Nurturing nurtures your anonymous website visitors and known contacts in waves of synchronized display and social ads. Deliver and optimize the most relevant ads and messaging to prospects based on their business demographics, website navigation, and levels of engagement to turn anonymous prospects into known contacts, and known contacts into customers. Furthermore, Bizo has 85 million global subscriptions, which will help LinkedIn significantly attain the firm’s goals in international marketing. For example, the big data on the 85 million subscriptions gained from the merger will allow LinkedIn further predict business buyer behavior. It’s unclear how LinkedIn plans on utilizing the resources they acquired after the merger, but considering both businesses provide services based on their online platforms international marketing will most likely play a huge role in creating a new billion-dollar company by 2017.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/linkedins-1-billion-b2b-marketing-plan-2014-8

To better understand the tools LinkedIn desired from Bizo, refer to the following youtube videos provided by the firm.

Business Audience Marketing

Multi-Channel Nurturing 

B2B Marketing: What Makes It Special?

B2B Marketing: What Makes It Special?

As the world becomes more and more globalized, many company took the advantage of being international. How does the manufacturing products get to the customers hands? Business to Business(B2B) marketing has been play the important factor in this process.  From the raw material to finish goods, each process needs B2B marketing to bring the value to consumers. When the manufacturer made the products, their goal is to sell more and spend less money to another difference company. They have specific contracts to put hold of the low prices and huge amount of the products need to be sold to the consumers. Each process needs die rent purchasing behavior in order to sell to the customers’ hands.

risk-value1

The image divides B2B purchases into four categories according to their value and the level of business risk associated with the purchase.  Each of these categories gives rise to different purchasing behavior and different complexities.

  • Low-risk, low-value purchases are the least distinct from consumer purchases.  There is little financial or business risk involved on getting the decision wrong, meaning that relatively little thought goes into the decision.
  • Low-risk, high-value items such as raw materials typically involve a mixture of technical and purchasing personnel. This complexity is necessary to ensure that price is minimized without impacting upon quality.  Purchasing personnel would usually be the key decision makers on a transaction-by-transaction basis, under the general guidance of more technical employees, who would review suppliers periodically.
  • Low-value, high-risk items such as office insurance would similarly involve a mixture of specialists and purchasers.  As the ‘risk’ is in the product rather than the price, and as each transaction is likely to be unique, an expert would tend to be the key decision maker every time a purchase takes place.
  • High-value, high-risk purchases are the most distinct from consumer purchases, with a large number of senior decision makers evaluating a large range of purchase criteria.

 

chain-of-derived-demand

B2B marketing contains value and risk in purchasing behaviors. As the picture is explained the cause of purchasing behaviors are the purchasing personnel and the complexity. These factors make the B2B marketing special in compare of other marketing strategies. As I believe B2B is so different from B2C marketing is B2B needs to build up good relationships with other businesses to continue to have the business together. The good the relationship the lower risk the company has to continue the long distribution process. Once the foundation is settled, B2B marketing is more stable compare to other marketing strategies.