China Paradigms interviewed Larry Feng, the founder of icfrom to explore his amazing journey in the semiconductor industry in China, and have a better understanding of his WeChat marketing for B2B companies formula.
Larry Feng, a professional veteran in China’s electronics manufacturing industry
Larry Feng started exploring the semiconductor industry in China in 1995, while he was working for Motorola Semiconductor. After that, he has been working for some semiconductor companies in China, where Larry mostly functioned as a marketing specialist in this specific industry. Thus, nowadays Larry Feng is an experienced specialist in marketing, communications, and branding in the semiconductor industry in China.
Larry got the idea of promoting semiconductor companies on WeChat through his own observation of this primary platform: Wechat is a platform where friends share the content they believe in. Compared with doing marketing and advertising through cold calls, it is much more efficient to target customers through WeChat, the friendly platform involved in daily life. Larry Feng has his unique understanding of WeChat. On the one hand, it is the major information resource for him, he personally would like to digest the content on WeChat to keep updated with the new trends in the semiconductor industry in China; on the other hand, WeChat is also the main channel to target potential customers:
“If the people go to your WeChat official account, they know you are from the company. You are professional. So, it’s very easy to talk to you and they can trust you and believe you can solve their problems.”
Icfrom, your trusted marketing partner in the semiconductor industry in China
Larry has recognized WeChat as a great platform for a B2B business, therefore, he founded Icfrom in 2015 to develop semiconductor business on WeChat. On the one hand, Icfrom has helped many semiconductor manufacturers do branding on WeChat. On the other hand, Icfrom also functions as a semiconductor distributor: it sells a small number of semiconductors to customers on behalf of those manufacturers. As most semiconductor manufacturers purely run a B2B business, they seldom have experience in dealing with the customers on WeChat who only want to buy some small parts.
Apart from being a distributor, Icfrom also has its own inventory, which means it buys stuff like a customer and is able to recommend and store up a list of semiconductors. When people ask for some specific products, it can manage to ship to them directly.
Larry has demonstrated that WeChat is the most essential platform in running this business. As he has also spent a few years abroad, studying, he is sensitive to the difference between Chinese culture and western culture. In China, a relationship is necessary for an individual’s everyday life, establishing a stable relationship with customers is extremely important for a company in the beginning stage. In the semiconductor industry in China, the buyers care about the quality of products, therefore, in order to win customers’ trust in the virtual world, Larry sets up an official company account on WeChat and provides considerate after-sales services.
WeChat marketing for B2B companies, compared with Baidu search engine
Baidu is a traditional and main search engine for Chinese, it is convenient to search a specific keyword or go to the segmentation page to look for what you need. As for the traditional advertising, WeChat provides a smaller-size social network compared with Baidu, therefore it is much harder to target new customers through WeChat.
However, Larry has given his explanation, rather than directly find new customers as Baidu does, WeChat targets more at existing customers because they will naturally undertake outreach toward new customers through their networks on WeChat. In doing market advertisement on WeChat, it can provide as much information about existing customers as you need:
“We can select people’s age; their gender; their city; what they are focused on and even in WeChat data they can identify where you are from.”
Based on this, WeChat has many advertising functions for companies, for example, if you are building an official account on WeChat, you could first add some relevant people from the semiconductor industry in China, then when you create some high-quality content, they will help you to promote. Customers may even notice you and contact you within five seconds after you put an ad at ‘WeChat moment’. Therefore, to some extent, WeChat is also able to do brand advertising to attract new customers like Baidu, but it is using a more indirect approach.
What’s more, WeChat is a two-way communication platform where a company is able to interact with customers directly and instantly. Of course, advertisement on WeChat or Baidu could have more considerations, some agencies will also combine this two, the choice still depends on the specific services and influences companies want to achieve.
China’s electronics manufacturing industry, diverse pattern and constant renovating
According to Larry, China’s electronics manufacturing industry varies a lot in terms of scale and business model, as different manufacturers are satisfying customers’ various needs. Some are cutting costs in production to win the pricing competition; others are inputting effort in the research and development process to make them irreplaceable. Icfrom, therefore, promotes different brands from China’s electronics manufacturing industry to provide adequate choices for its customers.
Both diversity and renovation are emphasized in China’s electronics manufacturing industry because semiconductor is not only for one-time use. Manufacturers like Xiaomi and Huawei, they have new products upgraded constantly, and for the designers, there will be a learning curve for them to get used to specific semiconductors. As a consequence, they need to provide long-term renovating and technique support for those manufacturers:
“When the design engineers know these specific semiconductors, the functions and coding, it is not easy for them to switch to other products, that’s like a consumer product. They need – we provide them a lot of technical supporting, design supporting to solve the design problems that they faced with. ”
Listen to this episode here: