From niche to mass market
by Nicolette Wong
While effective communication helps build relationships, personal branding is an essential component of a winning business plan.
Speaking recently at Career Times' eighth Marvellous Ways to Sell Yourself seminar, founder and CEO of Groupon Hong Kong Danny Yeung highlighted the elements of successful business communication. Executive director of bma Investment Limited Canny Yeung shared her tips on self-marketing to win over potential business partners; while G.O.D. founder and CEO Douglas Young spoke of the need for a unique vision in starting any business in today's ever-shifting culture.
Sealing the deal
Seven years ago, Danny Yeung ventured into the franchising business when he was 25, but it was his move to Hong Kong to kick start group-purchasing business uBuyiBuy in March 2010 that took his game to a whole new level.
"Before my move to Hong Kong, I generated a lot of buzz for uBuyiBuy by launching a publicity campaign that featured popular local artists," he said. The group-buying website kicked off a new trend in Hong Kong, and now, following the acquisition by Groupon in December 2010, is a leader in its field.
"As a foundation for a successful pitch to potential clients and partners you must understand their business models. Every business owner has a set of problems they want to solve. It might be getting new customers without spending a lot on publicity, or getting the word out speedily through social media," Mr Yeung noted. "Ask the right questions and show that you have what it takes to help your clients achieve their goals."
Elementary as it may be, proper etiquette in business exchanges can make or break a deal. Professional communications, such as emails with proper signatures and courteous phone manners are important. Scheduling a meeting at least three days in advance is a sign of respect, as well as giving full attention to the client during a meeting. Follow-up emails are a must as they open the door to feedback and further discussion.
"Pay attention to your client's complaints," Mr Yeung pinpointed. "Online social media is a great tool for this, where you can address clients' issues with your services to come up with proactive, prompt solutions."
From spinning popular Canto pop songs to reviving one of the oldest Hong Kong soccer teams, Canny Leung, executive director, bma Investment Limited, has been a symbol of success. "Anyone intending to brand themselves or their business should start with careful packaging," Ms Leung noted.
'It's not so much about what you have to offer but how you package it to fit your clients ideal," she remarked. "Go straight to your diverse accomplishments and how they can add value to your client's business. Your offer only matters when people know how they can benefit from it."
In her experience of securing big-name sponsors and business partners, Ms Leung said that creativity plays a major part. Using budding karaoke empire Red Mr as an example, she explained how a small enterprise can score big points with great ideas.
"We approached Microsoft about using their technology for our song selection directory, and the multi-touch, tabletop screen that could also be used for placing orders and playing interactive computer games," she recalled.
The passion for breaking new ground is the key to gaining the support of potential partners for business start-ups. When seeking sponsorship or business deals, Ms Leung contended that one must be open about the long-term visions as well as present capacity. "Recognise any weaknesses in your business and turn them to your advantage. If you have a limited variety of products on offer, make sure they are top quality and the customer's experience will be a good one," she advised.