#tolktolk: To Sell in China Without Speaking Chinese

This past Wednesday Jan 29 Dora Carapellese, a Consultant of Public Relations Communication, hosted a conversation between professionals regarding how to communicate and sell in the Chinese market without knowledge of the language.  Guest speakers included Giovanna Poppin, a specialist of Chinese publicity and brands, Antonella Orlandi, the General Manager of Welcome China, and Nicoletta D’Apice, Territory Manager of CEFLA Dental Group. The marketing and consumption industry is primarily dominated by men, hence Carapellese’s aim to have a panel of successful and prominent women to speak and give advice regarding this business. Main themes covered throughout the evening crossed an array of topics, such as the differences between Chinese publicity and marketing characteristics, the growing Italian tourism industry in China, and business etiquette.

Carapellese first addressed the question of what are common Chinese publicity and marketing techniques to Poppin, who was present via Skype. Poppin informed that their commerce strategies generally comprise of a blend between traditional and contemporary values and traditions (i.e. community, family, education). Poppin also included that due to Chinese Internet laws there are different popular websites than the ones you would find in Europe, United States (i.e. Google, YouTube) and other parts of the world.  She stressed the importance of reaching out and making a presence from these portals.

Carapellese easily moved the conversation to Orlandi and D’Aprice about what in particular about Italy appeals to Chinese tourists and consumers. Orlandi explained that there are many similarities between Italian and Chinese histories regarding art, gastronomy, regional diversity, and rituals. In 2013, the number of Chinese tourists going abroad amounted to 95,000,000.  Most of these tourists search information online about desired destinations before arriving. In addition, the number of Chinese blogs dedicated to serving tourists is greatly increasing. D’Apice added that as a general rule in commerce, it is important to know your product and your audience. Due to the great size of the country, Chinese culture is neither static nor homogenous; therefore it is crucial to recognize the social and historical differences between urban and rural cities and regions.

Carapellese requested their top five pieces of advice about communicating and meeting with Chinese clients. Their collective suggestions included:

  1. Plan your business meetings accordingly. They can continue a few hours and you want to guarantee your client has your full attention.
  2. During a discussion, you should express not only interest in the company or the product, but also the person with whom you are speaking to.
  3. The first time you meet a client, make sure that you acknowledge and respect every company individual’s roles and titles.
  4. Ensure that you are actively listening.
  5. If necessary, hire a well-experienced translator. Be aware that there are some gestures and tones that a translator cannot easily express into the other language. It is always best to know the language, as this effort also demonstrates a further interest into working with your client.

To stay connected, you can find evening audio streamed online as well as the follow presenters on Twitter.

Dora Carapallese: @adcarap

Giovanna Poppin: @giovannapoppin

Antonella Orlandi: @nikedibo

Bologna Connect: @bolognaconnect

To continue the conversation online through Twitter and Facebook, check out #tolktolk.


From Left to Right: Antonella Orlandi, Dora Carapellese, Nicoletta D’Apice


From Left to Right: Giovanna Poppin, Dora Carapellese, Antonella Orlandi, Nicoletta D’Aprice


From Left to Right: Poppin, Carapellese, Orlandi, D’Aprice


The audience at the event

This event was sponsored by Bologna Connect, Fior di Risorse, Welcome China and 8Doors. 






















































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