It’s quite common in the western world to regard marketing as simply a “numbers game”
In other words, if you contact 1,000 people (perhaps by email) with an offer of some kind, you might get a 10% response rate, meaning that 100 people may be willing to engage with you in an individual phone call or meeting. Out of that 100, perhaps 10% may become serious about doing business with you and, out of that 10, you might get 2 or 3 who become clients or customers. That’s a 0.3% conversion rate based on the initial 1,000. Or, to put it another way, out of the 1,000 people you contacted (or bothered) 900 didn’t become your client/customer and may have resented being contacted in the first place. Or they didn’t even notice!
This kind of thinking ends up with the conclusion that marketing is simply a ‘funnel’. The more names you put in the top of the funnel, the more that come out at the bottom. In other words, if you’re looking for 30 new clients then, based on a conversion rate of 0.3%, you need to make an initial contact with 10,000 people and work through the process.
Like many other things, the exact opposite is true in Asia.
Doing business in Asia is all about developing strong and trusted relationships for the long term which, as can be seen from my ebook, “Three Cups of Tea” requires more of a ‘bottom up’ approach.
In other words, you need to start by identifying one person (or family, group or network) and work on that relationship through the three stages (from ‘stranger’ to ‘friend’ to become part of their trusted ‘family’ or network) to reach a point where you can do business together. If you’re lucky, you may get introduced to another person or group connected to your first contact from which you can develop another trusted relationship. And so on.
Of course, you need to be sure that you are developing trust with the right person or group from the outset so that you’re not wasting their time, or yours, and this is where the research comes in (as outlined in another of my ebooks “8 Critical Steps”) to ensure that you understand the “where, what, when, why and how” to get started on your journey.
There are no short-cuts here. You don’t have the luxury or time to develop long term trusted relationships with more than one or two people at a time. You’ll have done well if you manage to build one deep and long term relationship with a business partner in Asia, no matter more than one!
So, when doing business in Asia, you need to rethink the numbers. Start small and think big!