How to build your thought leadership for the Chinese market

Our 7th session of our ‘China – Let’s Talk Business’ webinar series was hosted by Co-Founder Jiao Li, who specialises in E-commerce and digital marketing in both China and the UK, and guest speaker Sally Maier-Yip to talk on the topic of how to build thought leadership in China. Sally is the founder of a boutique consulting agency called 11K Consulting and she has more than 16 years of solid experience in devising and delivering award winning campaigns for MNCs and National companies across Asia and globally. Sally is also a vetted service provider on the digital service platform.


How to build your brand reputation and thought leadership in China’s crowded market

We can see examples of globally renowned MNCs like Mercedes Benz, Dolce and Gabbana, and Burberry making mistakes in their marketing campaigns; from incorporating political stances in their messaging, to cultural appropriation mishaps, brands that have not been sensitive to cultural differences have seen huge declines in their sales in the China market. It is vital to understand Chinese culture, values and norms when considering your marketing and communication and this report will focus on the dos and don’ts to building your brand trust when it comes to a Chinese audience.


How can we build a trusting relationship with a Chinese Audience?

Unsurprisingly, it is a mixture of online and offline activities that are going to touch the heart of the Chinese audience.

Online PR – builds your reputation online so you become visible and trusted in the online world and be included in Chinese media like China Daily, SCMP, and enhances your appearance as the expert in your industry.

Social media – it is understandable to not be on every social media platform in China, but being on the correct social media is important. You need to know who your target audience are, and then which social media will be the best to reach this market. In the China world you need to consider whether you need to be on WeChat, Little Red Book, Weibo etc.

Partnership and Events – For the Chinese market, where the business language is predominantly Chinese, it is better if you can work with a local Chinese partner, like a PR agency or business consultancy. They will have the knowledge and connections established in the local market or UK-based Chinese committee, so that you are not starting from scratch. These relationships are even more vital in the context of Chinese culture, where people are far more likely to trust you if you have been recommended by a friend, than being a brand-new company. It also makes communication much faster if you can establish relationships with partners when aiming to reach your end customers.

Thought leadership – this means to consistently push out your message on the right channels through online press, social media, online/offline events, and webinars. It is a long-term commitment – if you are not prepared to commit to at least 12 months in the China market then it will be a waste of your time and resources to even start your China PR and marketing. It is undoubtedly a daunting and complicated process but when done well it is effective, and the return on investment will follow, especially if you start looking to enter China before your main competitors.


Suggested checklist to follow when thinking about your China PR strategy


  1. Do you have a written document set out?
  2. Your vision/your mission?
  3. Your target Chinese audiences?
  4. Your key messages for the Chinese market?
  5. The challenges you are facing for the Chinese market?
  6. Your strategy and tactics for overcoming those challenges?


  1. Which of the following tactics have you used in relation to the China market over the last 24 months?
  2. Traditional and online media PR
  3. Thought leadership pieces
  4. Roadshows/conferences/events
  5. Engagement with partners/intermediaries
  6. Live streaming
  7. Engagement with KOLs/influencers
  8. Social Media campaigns – WeChat, Red, Weibo etc.


  1. What has worked well?
  2. What has not worked well?
  3. How have you measured the ROI?


Let us help you

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