The use of online social media in the West sees a clear separation between professional and personal in the form of LinkedIn vs. Facebook/Instagram/etc. In China, the lines are much more blurred, particularly on WeChat. Through WeChat’s default settings, a business contact can see photos of your babies, holidays and hobbies on the social “Moments” feed.
In fact, 28% of Chinese users on social media use it as much or more for business than for personal purposes. Whilst marketing using digital channels in the B2B space doesn’t get the same airtime as consumer segments, it can be equally effective in sales, advocacy, reaching customers and increasing preference. China Skinny is increasingly working with businesses on B2B marketing strategies as they realise the opportunities and efficiencies in the sector. The projects span both B2B and B2C brands assisting them to more effectively connect with trade, distributors, retailers and others.
In most B2B scenarios, few things can supplant personal relationships. Yet in tech-savvy China, digital channels can provide tools to enhance those relationships, make them more scalable, and decrease reliance on relationships between individual employees.
WeChat is a good example of how to strengthen B2B marketing efforts. It allows much more than just pushing out messages to followers. WeChat’s ecosystem allows businesses to receive and track orders, provide rich and interactive product or service information, customer service, effective multimedia training and allow customers to find dealers, showrooms or other locations, to name a few. WeChat can often be seamlessly integrated into existing systems such as CRM and ERP. Your customers are likely to already be big WeChat users, so using WeChat for business services is typically an effortless transition if done well.
WeChat represents significant opportunities to improve your B2B connections, but there are a host of other effective tools that can assist with China’s unique challenges.
A good example are the eB2B solutions that enable businesses to reach customers beyond the larger cities. Tencent, Alibaba and JD are all working on or investing in solutions that help businesses connect to some of the estimated 6 million ‘Mom & Pop stores’ across China. These retailers sell an estimated 2 trillion CNY of products a year – around half of China’s grocery sales. They have historically been difficult to reach, often with many layers of distributors and sub-distributors as the main channel. The new tools allow much easier and more efficient communication, education and online ordering, carried out with the logistics already established for traditional ecommerce.
These are just a few examples of how digital channels are shaking up China’s B2B space, just as they have in the consumer segments. Businesses that capitalise on such digital opportunities are likely to have greater sales growth and scalability, along with more efficiencies. Agencies such as China Skinny can assist developing such strategies. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.