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The Marketing Price War in China’s Domestic Investment Migration Industry, by Luc Lu

This article was written by Luc Lu, Investment Migration Insider’s official partner in China

In China’s migration market, the emergence of the global digital commercial age has been accompanied by an internet “reform”, which has helped domestic migration firms save a great deal of effort and money on marketing.

The previously preferred traditional media tools – TV and newspaper ads – have been replaced step by step; The overwhelming majority of firms have begun to apply SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in a bid to expose their websites to more visitors and, consequently, to increase the volume of inquiries. What’s followed is a race to the bottom where hot keywords have seen their prices surge in a manner not unlike what’s happened to China’s booming property market.

But purchasing habits have changed fundamentally too; Widespread internet adoption has allowed buyers to conduct their own research online prior to engaging a service provider and, in many cases, we see customers walking into consultancies already determined in their migration plans.

What are the motivators for this phenomenon?

First, the information explosion brought about by the internet proliferation has taken the place of a large part of the traditional consulting services. Second, buyers are increasingly apprehensive about exposing their personal information at too early a stage because it often leads to unwanted solicitations by overzealous advisors who’ve found their names in a database of potential clients.

Third, the degree to which any particular firm will conduct itself professionally is really hit-and-miss; A consultancy may have a nice office and fancy brochures, but clients are essentially results-oriented (will they get my application approved or not?) and prefer to rely on their own judgment by looking at a firm’s track-record, rather than going by how the firm describes itself.

The abuse of homogenous marketing tools – such as SEM and SEO – are requiring ever-larger marketing budgets for migration agencies, because everyone is bidding on the same keywords. This price war does more harm than good to the Chinese investment migration industry – even to the individual firms that are winning it – because it’s cheapening the industry’s image.

I’d like to offer an alternative solution, one that is more extensively relied on by Western firms, but which is as yet only beginning to gain ground in China.

Content-driven marketing

Content-marketing is somewhat of a buzzword these days and for a good reason; it’s so much more efficient than traditional marketing.

Compared to ordinary ads, content drives far more site visits, produces much higher levels of brand-recall, increases and prolongs engagement, costs much less to produce and disseminate (yet generates far more leads), has higher conversion rates and, crucially, sidesteps the obstacle of ad-blockers, today used by at least 200 million internet users.

What are the best ways of driving customer interest and generating quality leads through content?

It turns out there are four essential factors that go into effective content marketing:

1. Original creation

2. Content curation

3. Crowd-sourcing

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4. 3rd-party collaboration

Original creation: The content should be original and of high quality. In other words, it can’t be a rehashing of other people’s content, as many websites are prone to engage in

Content curation: This refers to the assembly and aggregation of existing content (your own and that of others) in a combination that adds value beyond the sum of its constituent parts. A good example is the gathering of several articles along the same topic into a single meta-article, perhaps with additional discussion accompanying it.

Crowd-sourcing: The purpose of content marketing is, of course, for enterprise’s brand and sales. In this digital age where buyers have access to sufficient information, however, and an indirect approach to product placement within content is needed. In particular, information leading buyers to purchase does not necessarily come from enterprises themselves but is more likely to come from other users, particularly in a social media context. Since peer influence is so crucial, companies should take advantage of customer-generated content to serve marketing. 

3rd-party collaboration: No matter how strong, all firms encounter some limitations in terms of subjects and tonality of content available in-house. After all, its content cannot deviate from the core attributes of the product. Collaboration with third parties to produce content, therefore, not only widens channels of content sources but also increases content attraction via the third party (either another company or media). A practical example would be to have writers from related outlets contribute content to your own publication and vice versa.

Read also: Chinese Investment Migration Trends: Ireland, Greece Push Caribbean CIPs Out of Top 10 Destinations

Applications for the investment migration industry

While for years we’ve observed international firms in the investment migration market push content – of varying quality – to generate interest in their products, going so far as to publish their own monthly publications, this marketing strategy is woefully underutilized within China. Keyword advertising – by digital-age standards an outdated method already – is still the prevalent method of lead generation. 

On the one hand, that’s a problem, because it means wasted marketing budgets and overinvestment in promotional strategies that have low rates of conversion.

On the other, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the first that are quick to take advantage and adapt their marketing approach to the high-conversion, low-cost content-production strategy that has worked so well for companies outside of China. 

To foreign firms entering the Chinese market, in particular, focusing their marketing on content production and dissemination is, for now, low-hanging fruit, because almost all the domestic competition is neglecting it in favor of overpriced keywords.

This article was written by Luc Lu, Investment Migration Insider’s official partner in China

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Luc Lu AuthorContributorParticipant

Luc Lu is a decade-long veteran of the Chinese Investment Migration Industry, founder of several firms in that market, and official partner of Investment Migration Insider, responsible for China-based activities.

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