Silver bullet solutions. In marketing, we see it all the time. Agencies promising to deliver the world; thousands of followers, mind blowing ROI and knock-your-socks-off revenue outcomes. Essentially these snake oil peddlers promise the world and then deliver very little, claiming intangible outcomes such as ‘brand awareness’ for your finite marketing spend. With the massive interest in accessing the world’s largest market of 1.38 billion people in China, the snake oil peddlers are rife.
Creating a successful campaign for the China market goes beyond finding a service provider who can facilitate access into Chinese marketing channels. The challenges are significant including language, geography, technology and beyond. Many agencies offer to take care of your creative and marketing channels, however many omit the critical elements of the marketing process. They get so caught up drinking their own champagne they forget that marketing in China must still honour the principles of the profession; targeting, relevance, integration and trust.
The common mistakes we are seeing China Marketing include:
1. The Chinglish brief
When cross border businesses engage, you need to allow more time for documentation, clarification and specification to ensure all parties are really clear on the tasks at hand.
‘Chinglish’; a variety of English used by speakers of Chinese or in a bilingual Chinese and English context, typically incorporating some Chinese vocabulary or constructions, or English terms specific to a Chinese context
The constructs and meanings of the two languages pose significant barriers to getting it right if you rush through the briefing process. You need spell out the requirements and deliverables of the campaign, and then get a reverse brief to confirm the agency understands your needs clearly.
2. Lost in translation
Google translate might be helpful when you are travelling or need a quick answer, however, it is NOT a professional tool. It is simply not acceptable to take marketing content designed for Australian audiences and convert it to Chinese. A host in Shenyang toasted a group of foreign investors with "Up your bottoms!" instead of "Bottoms up!” after using a Google translation.
Using a bilateral translation process from English to Chinese, and then back to English again, will give you much greater clarity. It also helps English native speakers learn the constructs and nuances of the Chinese language in the context of their specific products.
The English idiom "work like a horse" means "work hard", but in China horses are rarely used as draft animals and the equivalent Chinese expression uses niú 牛 "Cattle".
3. Single use content
A good marketing agency will support their clients with a content creation strategy that leverages the same set of resources for multiple purposes and multiple geographies. This does NOT mean simply creating one asset and then translating its language and pushing it out.
A video for both use in both Australian and China can be scripted and produced so it:
The cost and effort can be reduced, and the outcomes enhanced, by holistic planning at a strategic level.
4. All dressed up and nowhere to go
Recently a client asked for a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) campaign. Upon mapping out the process we uncovered they had only a single web page with Chinese content, and no details about the purchase path to the product. This scatter gun approach results in significant wastage and fails to provide a positive customer journey that will actually result in revenue outcomes.
5. Online and offline disconnect
Brand consistency creates trust. As we do locally we need to ensure a cohesive look and feel across all the touchpoints in the customer journey. From POS materials and packaging, to WeChat and Weibo (and beyond) digital assets, you must express the same value proposition, brand attributes and aesthetics. It’s a paramount step in the process that often gets missed when multiple agencies/suppliers manage elements of the brand without holistic governance.
If you want trusted guidance on your digital marketing for China, connect with the Stone Drums Group. I assure you there is no snake oil peddling, just a legitimate commitment to delivering great outcomes through holistic and proven marketing methodologies.
Photo by Jordan Gellie on Unsplash
Vicky Mann, V|CMO Principal, is an old-school generalist Marketer with a passion for strategic frameworks, digital process automation, and data analytics to drive sales outcomes. V|CMO provides freelance marketing services to companies wanting to move forward. Whether you need to do more with less, or are busy boot-strapping your business, V|CMO can help you deliver your business objectives (without the cost of an FTE). Get in touch