For those seeking an international directory; you should start with Alibaba. While the name may raise some eyebrows from some Western businesses; Alibaba; is actually one of the world’s fastest growing IT companies in the world with millions of companies listed there.
There are many strategies relating to Alibaba:
1) It is a Global portal; you can use it to contact buyers and sellers worldwide
2) You should consider join their TrustPass; it is a paid-membership; but this provides a much better platform to contact other companies; and also will be treated more seriously by potential customers
3) A one-stop shop to browse around different opportunities across different sectors.
4) Ability to contact prospective buyers and sellers through Alibaba
5) A forum where you can report problems; the mediation / arbitration while not necessarily effective; in many cases; it is like eBay; where you can leave comments; and hence; by large; the companies listed there are serious businesses looking for deals
There are also downsides in using Alibaba for online marketing purpose; however; when comparing pros against the cons; we will still recommend Alibaba as an effective online marketing strategy.
· Lack of transparency is a problem faced by companies listed on Alibaba as it only lists limited descriptions; however; if they are TrustPass members; then the information available is much more extensive.
· Language / Communications barrier: This is a common problem; but not only excluded when dealing through Alibaba
· The biggest concern we have faced using Alibaba is getting responses from fraudulent companies; again; this is also happening through other Social Media Networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn
What kind of companies should look at Alibaba?
Alibaba is especially a useful marketing tool for companies to export into international markets; we will highly recommend this as a tool for you to build up your profile from prospective buyers. We also see this as a particular useful platform to reach distributors / resellers.
Our experience has shown this is a very effective platform especially for consumer goods; probably less so for services oriented businesses.
A Word of Warning:
Although it is a very useful medium; Alibaba is also notoriously known to be used by many unsolicited users; including the Nigerian Bank style scams; the popular one these days are from Nigeria; Haiti; Angola and Zimbabwe; they often use the same tactics by saying they have a large amount of inheritance and needs your help to process them; do not reply to these message as you will only be wasting your precious time.
We have used Alibaba as part of our International Online Marketing Strategy; and have achieved some success:
We have taken on several cosmetic companies that are interested in expanding their products into the Greater Chinese markets (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and SE Asia).
Step 1: We started the marketing campaign by uploading their profile on Alibaba. We then asked the company to join TrustPass; as that would give them a better market perception that they are a serious business.
Step 2: We then conducted an extensive database marketing campaign; we had identified potential distributors and resellers through Alibaba; concentrating on companies in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore initially (our client was originally from Australia).
Step 3: To further expand the marketing activities; we then created a separate web page within Alibaba for this particular company.
Step 4: Article Marketing: You can also do Article Marketing in Alibaba; it is a good way for you to broadcast about your products; unique points about the company.
Step 5 : Register your company in different categories; this will assist you in expanding your profile across different categories; this will assist you in reaching out to more prospective buyers.
Step 6: Write articles in Chinese; we have translated articles for our clients into Chinese and post these articles around Alibaba; and they have been very effective in getting attentions from prospective buyers.
Step 7: Banners: You can also upload specific banners on Alibaba to increase your exposure to prospective buyers in Asia and other international markets.
Overall Rating: Very effective but mostly for consumer products