Marrose Abrasives managing director, Tony Day, in his factory in Keighley, West Yorkshire

Member Article

More China 1-1 Clinics Planned After First Series Helps Businesses Adopt New Strategies

The first series of China 1-1 clinics held by Chamber International’s China affairs associate, Matthew Grandage, have been judged a success and demand means more are planned for later this year.

Eight of the two-hour clinics, where Matthew, a fluent Mandarin speaker, visits client companies and sits with managing, or export directors, or both, at a computer and helps them to research the complex Chinese web to understand their Chinese market potential and their competitors, were held in March and April.

Most businesses benefiting from the clinics were SME manufacturing companies in towns and cities, including Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton, involved with medical equipment, instrumentation, industrial abrasives, electric motors, health products, musical instruments and a bathroom design company which wanted to explore sourcing products from China.

The Chinese web, which is a crucial source of information for companies wanting to trade there, is hard for most people to access due to the language barrier, and because China’s online environment is so different to that in the West. The Chinese web is written in Chinese; web searches must be conducted in Chinese and there is no Google, different social media platforms and an alien e-commerce culture

The 1-1 clinics combine each client company’s product and marketing knowledge with Matthew’s specialist linguistic and research expertise to establish how they and their competitors are positioned within the Chinese market and how their products are being marketed.

Matthew, who spent 15 years living and working in China, says: “In most cases I was asked to mine information from Chinese websites which the clients had never had access to before. This enabled them to gather lots of new data about their competitors’ activities, market expectations, and how their own products appear to potential customers in China. Others asked for advice about specific problems they were encountering with Chinese suppliers and distributors.

“The fact that these clinics are held privately at the client’s own premises meant they were able to address sensitive marketing and strategy questions which they would not have felt comfortable raising at a more typical training event.”

One company was shocked to find that their sole distributor in China was making no visible effort to market their products online. Another was surprised to discover their competitors using new channels to sell in China while a third was relieved Matthew was able to demonstrate that their products were not being sold inappropriately as they feared.

Matthew adds: “Every company said that their China strategy would need to change as a result of the information we unearthed. The ones who appeared to benefit most were company owners, directors and senior managers with real responsibility for brand and strategy.”

One company benefiting from a China 1-1 Clinic was Marrose Engineering, Keighley. Managing director, Tony Day says: “The scope of the clinic addressed precisely the range of topics that are key to successfully marketing and selling our products into the Chinese market.

“Matthew’s experience and his ability to speak and write fluently in Chinese has, in a few hours, allowed us to develop a new strategy for increasing our sales to China. Without Matthew’s input, we could well have been still thinking about this 12 months from now.”

Matthew adds: “Brexit is challenging British businesses to widen their customer base and engage with global markets. At the same time budgets are tight, and few are willing to invest in attending large events where there is no guarantee that their needs will be met.

“In the China 1-1 Clinics, we’ve found a model that businesses appreciate. They can bring in top managers and a range of staff without expensive away-from-desk time, knowing that their specific questions about China will be addressed immediately and confidentially.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mike Clarke .

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