Alexanders taps into Chinese digital market
Rachel Alexander, owner of Christchurch-based Alexanders Digital Marketing, is helping Kiwi companies break through the great firewall of China.
Unlike the western world's access to Google and social media, China has its own internet companies.
Tencent is the dominant player listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the fifth largest internet company in the world, and owner of WeChat which has similarities with Facebook.
Alexander's company was the first New Zealand agency to become accredited to advertise on Tencent's services including the powerful marketing tool, WeChat.
But signing up for WeChat is a complicated process almost akin to setting up a web page and it's one of the services Alexander can offer clients who want to offer retail products.
Accreditation to advertise on Tencent platforms took several months because of the thorough and laborious vetting process to avoid fraud.
Alexander questions the value of New Zealand firms setting up their own local web sites in Chinese languages because if they want to reach the largest audience they need to be on Chinese networks.
Chinese do like to deal with official New Zealand sites but they are slow to download in China, she said.
These services are also increasingly important for reaching Chinese tourists within New Zealand because most don't use credit cards in preference to Alipay and WeChat Pay, an electronic payment system that can be used by downloading an application to a cellphone.
With 40 per cent of Chinese visitors now described and free independent travellers and numbers expected to rise from about 400,000 to nearly 1 million a year, Alipay is a no brainer for local companies.
Alexander offers clients a Chinese digital strategy, setting up social media accounts, preparing posts and monitoring responses, creating advertisements and translation, web sites, and promotional photoshoots.
Alexanders has also made inroads into marketing in Korea which also has its own internet companies.
Local firms commission Alexanders to design their web sites to drive business rather than just being "pretty brochures".
The cost of setting up a company web site can vary from about $7000 to $50,000 depending on the size and nature of the company.
Alexanders is also a Google partner, and offers more traditional services such as profit reports, improving ranking profiles on the search engine, and presentations for a large range of companies which are listed on the Alexanders web site.
Mandarin-speaking Alexander worked as a consultant with KPMG before setting up her own marketing agency, rebranding it more recently to suit the digital world.
She employs eight staff directly, including Mandarin speakers, and outsources some programming to a company in South East Asia.
Based in a private residence in Fendalton during the working week, Alexander spends the weekends at her husband John's beef and sheep farm near Amberley where they enjoy polo and outdoor pursuits, although she has put her hang gliding days behind her.
Company expansion means Alexander is moving to commercial premises in Blenheim Rd where there are increasing vacancies from businesses moving back to the central city.
"Town is cool but I did a survey of clients which showed they were more concerned about easy access and parking."
The cost was also compelling with rents in peripheral locations closer to $200 per square metre compared $300/ sqm closer to the central city and more than $450/ sqm in new buildings.