``I think we should talk about making money,'' said Russ Johnson, chief executive officer of China Array Plastics LLC, to an audience of Chinese rotational molding professionals.
Making money, Johnson, pointed out, is approached differently in China and in the United States. For Chinese rotomolders looking to make a jump to the U.S. market, it takes a change in thinking.
``Many of the first successful companies in China led with a manufacturing background,'' he said at the International Forum for Rotational Molding & Hollow Parts. When China first opened its economy, the emphasis was on manufacturing excellence at low cost. Marketing the product was an afterthought. As China's plastics industry has become more globally connected, the lack of marketing expertise has proved challenging.
``I think that one of the things that is sometimes overlooked with Chinese companies is marketing,'' he said. ``There is an opportunity for the Chinese companies that recognize that.''
Westerners, on the other hand, are conditioned to marketing strategies, so much so, said Johnson, that ``it's in their subconscious.'' When Western companies arrive in China, marketing is not an afterthought - they expect it from the Chinese companies they are dealing with.
What they are looking for are assurances of quality, stability, technology and cooperation, he said. While many Chinese rotomolders may possess those qualities, most are not advertising. To reassure multinationals, simply listing the number of years the company has been in business can be helpful.
``Include your management team, accomplishments, financial strength,'' Johnson said. For technology, companies can list their engineering team, productions, and service plans as well as their capital equipment.
``And put that in everything you do,'' Johnson said. ``Put it in every ad, every business card, on your Web site, e-mail and stationary.''
Doing so will free up Chinese companies to be more selective when choosing customers and compete on attributes outside of price alone. Marketing, Johnson summed up, equals profit.