As the rollout of the nbn™ broadband access network gets closer to its 2020 completion date, more and more Australians are benefiting from access to fast broadband. It’s not just individuals, either; businesses are also reaping the rewards. In fact, across the country, 20,000 businesses a month are migrating to services over our network, helping to open up a world of new opportunities to thousands of Australians.
One of the barriers that access to fast broadband is quick to help break down is the one separating local small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with international markets.
In eras past, enabling international customers to discover a local product, communicate with its staff and arrange a purchase was challenging, if not impossible. With the help of services over the nbn™ access network, efficient and reliable communication, marketing and distribution can be just a few clicks away.
Going ‘glocal’ is the ability for SMBs to stay local while operating globally, and it’s one of our network’s most powerful capabilities.
As the nbn™ access network rolls out, it’s no wonder then that 46 per cent of Australian businesses are looking to generate an income from overseas markets. It should also come as no surprise that China is the most popular destination. After all, it’s a market with 57 customers to every one customer here in Australia. Thirty-nine per cent of Australian businesses operating overseas want to sell their products into China.
With such demand, NBN Co set about helping SMBs take their first step towards China on the right foot with the Glocals Academy series. Hosted by an expert in Chinese expansion, CT Johnson (Managing Director of Cross Border Management), the Glocals Academy series offers six free video tutorials sharing tips on how to be successful in China.
As part of this nbn initiative, three deserving businesses won a six-month Glocals Academy Mentorship. We caught up with one of the winning businesses, Screen Weaver, to see how it went.
Screen Weaver is a team of boutique video production experts founded by Karen Pouye. The company discovered a successful niche converting traditional instruction manuals into easy-to-understand visual content. It’s a concept that Pouye believes has global relevance – and China is a market the company wishes to target – so the mentorship was perfect timing.
“It was fantastic having total access to an expert on the Chinese market,” says Pouye. “We began by briefing CT about our business, then he advised us how our services could best accommodate the differences we would encounter in China. He pointed out a number of opportunities and gave us research to complete ourselves.
“Later in the process, we developed a strategy together that involved setting up a video channel on the main Chinese video platform, Youku. We then found a suitable video and added Chinese subtitles so we could test the market.
“CT helped us with translations and deciphered online research we found difficult to understand due to the language barrier. He also gave us considerable advice about what the Chinese market expected and assisted us in acquiring valuable contacts in Huawei: one of the biggest Chinese electronics companies.”
Pouye recognises that the language barrier will continue to be a problem.
“Language is probably the biggest barrier and we’ve concluded that we’ll need someone on the team with Chinese language skills to assist us. We also realised, after talking to several Chinese business people that, if we want to go global, we will need to raise our bar somewhat. The Chinese brands want to raise the credibility of their products, so we need to prove that we can offer quality ourselves.”
Pouye admits the knowledge gained from the Glocals Academy Mentorship has changed the way Screen Weaver is approaching expansion.
“We now know we will need to do a little more preparation than we expected,” confirms Pouye. “We need to raise the quality of our sample videos. Most of our samples are lower-budget videos specifically produced for local retailers who required quantity and cost-effectiveness. We will need to take these up a notch for the global market.”
As a result of this experience, Pouye has refined her goals as she moves deeper with her plans to go glocal.
“I plan to now make a series of high-quality demo videos to gain credibility with our Chinese customers,” says Pouye. “Then, finish the webpage in Chinese and complete the Youku channel before starting to build the content.”
Despite discovering how much more work is ahead of Screen Weaver, Pouye has only increased in her eagerness to go glocal.
“Having [access to] a Chinese business expert has given us the confidence to develop a solid strategy to take our service to market,” says Pouye. “CT gave us some great ideas and pointed us in directions we may not have thought about on our own.
“For example, he told us that generally Chinese consumers are not as responsive to direct marketing as consumers in Western countries. They are more responsive to word-of-mouth. Therefore, using friendly presenters in our videos will probably be a lot more effective than basic product demonstrations with only text.”
As she continues with her plans to go glocal, Pouye is under no illusions about how helpful services over the the nbn™ access network can be to her success.
“This is something that would have been difficult to achieve without fast internet,” says Pouye. “Video requires large data transfers, and we need speed to be able to transfer videos to and from our customers. We also need the internet to communicate with our customers via Skype, which requires a good connection.”*
Thanks to the Glocals Academy Mentorship, Pouye also has some tips of her own to pass on.
“Before you go glocal, you’ll probably need to evaluate your business from a totally fresh perspective,” says Pouye. “Does it meet the standards of a global market? Getting someone who knows the new customers you will be acquiring is essential to this self-evaluation. Don’t waste time and money guessing your way into a new market. It’s much smarter to have an experienced guide.”