evelynchou

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

“Never Mind the Valley, Here’s Our Moto-Town, Detroit”

In Inspiration, Marketing, Social Media, Tech & Trend on 2010/04/19 at 3:49 PM

Inspired by Future Midwest conference last weekend. 2 day. 13 sessions. ¥ ideas & sparkles generated within and beyond.

Before attending the event, I’ve always been reading Read Write Web‘s “Never Mind the Valley” column and wondering when and how Detroit is going to be the next city. In this past conference, still had no answer to my question, but I know Detroit will. Not a Michiganer from the beginning, but after watching a great clip http://vimeo.com/11021663 displaying the rise, fall, and rebirth of Detroit, I can’t help but to be proud of being in Midwest. Whatever people from the east or west coast might think, this cornfield is gonna have something big happening.

Aside from the inspiration, there are indeed some very hardcore strategic concepts from various great sessions:
– Moving from acquisition to retention is key to the business. (via @joejaffe “Flip the Funnel“)
– Everything is no longer the way it used to be (ain’t we surprised about that!) Public Relations (and any types of marketing, in my opinion) becomes a two-way mutual relationship. As much as marketers would like to create buzz, we are no longer in control of the relationship. Our customer / audience just gonna say what they want to say. (Takeaway – so grab your seat or oxygen mask & be prepared!) (via Beth Harte @BethHarte)
– Realize & plan for social analytic lifecycle: discover, analyze, segment, strategize & integrate, and execute. Utilizing data mining & analytic tools (Trensmap, MediaBank…etc) (via Ken Burbary @kenburbary)
** Ken’s fantastic presentation is now available at http://kenburbary.posterous.com/consumer-insights-and-analytics-that-drive-di
– Being a challenger brand (I suspect Scott was suggesting local startups & entrepreneurs to brand themselves as a challenger, agreed?) requires different approach, grounded brand idea, study outside of category & other challenger brands, and finally building identity via social media. (via Scott Huaman @scotthauman)

At the end of the conference, although physically exhausted from all the learnings & “networking” (Ok, I said that, I am actually trying hard to put myself out there to be sociable because I am that shy), I am emotionally invigorated by these two very specific speaker that I wish myself live up their spirit & philosophy from now on.

Sam Valenti, a Michiganer, an entrepreneur, and a lead-thinker. Just like all the other presenters, he shook up our minds during his “permeable Brands,” presentation, but it was his last slide that said, “the scariest thing, for me, is not dying. It’s the thought “oh shit, I wish I’ve done…” instead of “oh shit.” before I die” 
I was so lucky talking to Sam soon after his presentation. Great guy – simply love him & his motto.

Blagica Bottigliero‘s story telling melted me, and I’m sure her presentation inspired just as many people at Future Midwest. A Michigan girl in big city like Chicago, Blagica touches every aspect of life, career, and relationship with her lovely heart & intelligent mind. I most certainly am going to check out her http://www.galsguidesummit.com/ from now on 🙂 (Note to self: start embracing life by traveling by myself!)

All in all, success. Kudos to the great team behind the scenes, kudos to all the people who make the event, kudos to all the tweeps who spice up the session, and kudos to myself –  shy as always but surely found her survival way in social media jungle. Like my Twitter name says, @evyfindstheway, right?)  

“I’ve seen the future, and it works!” It certainly works at Future Midwest!
(Sorry Ben for stealing your favorite quote from Michael Hanlon. Ooops!)

 

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“American Dream”? No, it’s “Chinese Legend” right now

In Marketing on 2010/04/01 at 11:34 AM

I was recently asked to do a preliminary screening about potential Chinese suppliers. And when I mentioned the research be done after work because only my personal laptops have Chinese keyboard, I get this response, “if those Chinese companies want to do business with Americans, they should have an English websites.” As much as I agree on communication and language being the key factor of cross-country business, I, however, disagree with the mindset behind all these “Americanism.” While it might be the attitude to have 20-30 years ago, (American dreams, right?) it will surely sink your boat as you sailing towards Chinese market.

Just earlier I was reading How to Do Business with Chinese Companies by Golden Hints, British Embassy in Beijing, Google, at the meantime, was pulling out of China because of Internet censorship and unsuccessful negotiation with Chinese government. Many research and newspaper then jumping into the analysis game trying to figure out why and how to win the battle over this mysterious wonderland called China. Articles like Washington Post and Forbes “The Panda Has Two Faces” make valid points about how Chinese people think and how their business is like. Needless to say, even with all the tumble & fumble expanding business in China, Western companies still crave for the enormous opportunities (400 M Internet users in China versus 240 M in America, are you kidding me?) But instead of watching kung-fu panda or any Bruce Lee’s film to think you get a taste of Chinese, dear world, listen to what I have to say:

– We like to be “In-control”: If we think Westerns are “macro-managing,” then read this: according to China Digital Times, a publication based in Berkeley, Calif., “the Chinese government maintains a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of banned search terms, with new ones added periodically.” And if a foreigner tries to jump in thinking he/she can run the game? You are outta here.

– We are hospitable, “selectively”: Many foreign countries’ first impression about Chinese companies is they are very, very friendly. They wear smiles, escort all the way, and serve you the most exotic Chinese food they can ever imagine, but it is another story after the contract is signed. Chinese have their own mechanism and their own pace, as much as we complain about the bureaucracy and inefficiency ourselves, Chinese allow no interruption of the way we do things. So fight, work your way around, but make adjustable expectations.

– We are humble, but you’d better kiss our butt too: Companies need to show an almost exaggerated respect for China’s traditions: the Chinese are simultaneously immensely proud of their history. Getting close to Chinese companies, one needs more than standard courtesy as smiles and hand-shakes. It’s all about”guanxi,” a concept very similar to professional relationship for American companies but not exactly the same as professional & personal relationship are frequently mixed when it comes to the final deal in China. Here’s a joke from my college professional who frequently fly to China and do research with locals. “Chinese like to “”research”” (pronounced “yian-jo” in Chinese, very close to cigarette (pronounced “yian”) & alcohol (pronounced “jo”) In short it means unless you give them cigarettes & alcohol, they will not even bother looking at your proposal) You might call it “bribery,” but it’s the way relationship in Chinese culture works for thousands of years.

What I said above may not reflect the whole picture but at least it is an outlook from an Asian working and living almost 4 years in America. China may seem a vibrant community with a lot of unknown issues and short of clear channel or public voice, it is, still, the next superstar that any business can’t afford to miss.

I would love to hear any feedback and thoughts if you have done business in China 🙂