Internet Thinking is a homegrown buzzword that simply rolls off the tongue for Chinese entrepreneurs. Its origin story is simpler than you’d think.
The sheer size of China’s population can, believe it or not, make it difficult for businesses to identify their target demographic and, on the other hand, customers can also have a time finding businesses that they can trust.
The omnipresent and multi-purpose mega-platform WeChat provided the earliest solution to this challenge, as service-sector businesses hopped onboard to disseminate their details to users most likely to require the services they have to offer. For the highly pragmatic Chinese business sector, this gamble paid off in a big way and the overwhelming success that early adopters of this strategy experienced prompted other traditional industries to follow suit and cast their lot with similar internet-based enterprises.
The attitude switch characterized above is known as “Internet Thinking”.
Internet thinking can come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes, all it takes for runaway online marketing success to happen is to bring together tried-and-true marketing strategies with an internet-based technology in a fresh new way.
You may be surprised to know that the fortune cookie is an American invention. At least, a Chinese-American came up with the idea in 1917 as a promotional stunt for his Los Angeles based noodle shop. If you need further convincing, consider the fact that this century old marketing tactic was successfully used in China, in the 21st century, to propel a lukewarm beef patty store in China to the forefront of online virality.
The Beijing-based business adapted the fortune cookie for the modern era by leaving thought provoking quotes on its receipts back in 2012. This was considered a novelty and rapidly became an online sensation as its metropolitan clientele clamored to share the often whimsical quotes on WeChat. The founder further capitalized on the success of this strategy by limiting the number of takeout orders per day, creating more demand by limiting the supply. The runaway success of this beef patty shop wasn’t an accident, it’s behavioral science. By curating an extensive selection of highly-shareable quotes and disseminating them through takeout receipts, the architect of this marketing strategy successfully tapped into the rich cultural tradition of Beijing, where ostentatious displays of wealth can be disregarded as distasteful, while seemingly offhanded musings about the simple pleasures in life can spark a social-sharing wildfire. What this beef patty business did was create social currency, which can be flaunted in an arguably classier way than simply showing off exclusive products. And in a political capital like Beijing, social currency can go a long way in making obscure street eats a viral sensation.
Ultimately, it’s not about using WeChat to engage with potential adopters of your service in hopes that they’ll part with their hard-earned cash. The medium of communication will certainly change, as will the means of connectivity and its corresponding community. The methods of distributing content which, for the time being, is considered king in internet marketing, will grow. Along with it, online behavior will also continue to evolve. For online marketing success, the tools, which can be overwhelming, are not what’s important, the key to success is still customer needs and the ensuing behavior. Can you identify the target audience that you are trying to reach? Do you understand the thought processes that go into their decision-making? Can you design processes to encourage your customers to interact with your brand? Can you quantify the ROI on your social media investment (not just in terms of vanity metrics like followers and comments)? Can you use analytics to segment and target particular demographics to strategize the management of your customer relations?
Because if you can’t, some Chinese entrepreneur familiar with “Internet Thinking” probably could.
Stay tuned with SHOPLAZZA blog!