If you are considering taking your business into China, you need to be aware of some of the vast differences that abound between our two countries in terms of language, culture, marketing and business etiquette.
While it might not be possible to be prepared for absolutely everything that might occur, there are some basic steps you can take to get ready for your new venture.
- Make sure you understand your market
It’s fairly obvious, but doing business in China successfully first means researching your target market and understanding regional and demographic differences. You need to look into developing a Chinese language website, setting up a presence on Chinese social media platforms, and adapting your products according to Chinese tastes.
- Seek professional advice
Make sure to obtain independent legal, taxation and financial advice before setting up in China or signing any contracts. It’s important to familiarise yourself with China’s laws and regulations around taxation, employment, and trade. You might want to consider using a legal company that already has a presence in China.
- Hire an expert language translator
Using phrase books or Google translator will just not cut it if you are serious about doing business in China – especially when it comes to your marketing. Not only are the language differences very stark, but so are the cultural ones, and misunderstandings can easily occur!
- Get a China-based agent
Consider employing an agent who has a good grasp of both languages and cultures, as this may provide greater access to Asia markets and networks.
- Familiarise yourself with the cultural differences
There are a number of ways that doing business in China differs from Australia. For instance, while we might keep a certain distance in our professional relationships, business relationships in China are more akin to familial ones or friendships. You need to be prepared to spend time on forming relationships and socialising after hours. You also need to be prepared for the possibility of lengthy and ongoing negotiations.
- Learn the local etiquette
You need to be aware of the differences in manners and etiquette. Being on time for meetings, greeting others with a handshake, showing particular respect to elders and learning a few basic phrases in Mandarin are all important aspects. It’s also a good idea to have a stash of business cards (translated into Chinese characters on one side) to hand out. Make sure to give them to others using both hands – which is very much a Chinese custom.
- Learn and get advice from others
Finding a mentor – someone who has already broken into the Chinese market and can pass on some of their experience – can be invaluable. You can also get advice from professional bodies such as the Australia China Business Council or Austrade.
- Chinese festivities
Be aware of Chinese festivities and holidays, both in terms of marketing for these occasions and also of how many businesses might close down during these times. Examples include Chinese New Year in February, and Golden Week in early October.
Where to make a start
While it can be quite complex negotiating the business landscape in China, with the right information and expert help, you should be off to a good start! Contact us to see how our bilingual Chinese digital marketing experts can help you get on the right track to knowing your target market and engaging with your audience.