In China and anywhere else, we talk a lot about advertising, digital marketing and generating leads. This is all great and, actually, these should be among any company’s goal list looking to enter the Chinese market (or any other market for that matter). However, it is important to note that a digital marketing strategy can’t only rely on social media, SEO, and other digital tools if it is not backed up with a compiling storytelling. Steve jobs, one of the best storytellers and TedXtalks which are exclusively based on storytelling were and are very successful speakers/organisations.

What is storytelling?


There are different kinds of “storytelling” but the one we are going to focus on right now is Business Storytelling. As defined by the Content Marketing Institute, Storytelling represents “brands sharing their messages in ways that engage audiences and drive them to take the desired action (like making a purchase, calling a sales person, downloading or subscribing to content, etc.).”The message could be using experiences, history or behavioural trends, to communicate more efficiently with their audience. It can be used for traditional advertising but also across digital strategies.

Why should you include storytelling in your digital marketing strategy for China?

As Rodger Duncan, a storytelling consulting, stated during his interview with Forbes, the best leaders, teachers, coaches and so on are great storytellers. According to Psychology Today, Storytelling provides several benefits. First, stories are the first primal form of communication. We could see that through wall drawings and even throughout history. Telling a story also enables us to connect with others by sharing some emotional states and simply, a “human” like behavior. It also triggers people imagination and thus engages listeners.

China is one of the biggest internet communities in the world. It has over 660 million internet users and about 90% own at least one social media account. They are also heavy mobile phone users with about 9 out of 10 using their mobile phone to go on the internet. Needless to say, you won’t be able to have a full conversation with a Chinese adult without seeing him talking on the phone ..


Digital customer experience strongly relies on making the visitor happy from visiting the website or social media account, through leads, closing the sale and after-service. Creating several touchpoints with your Chinese consumer will strengthen your relationship and “power of attraction”.

“That is great, I want to do some storytelling, but how should I proceed?”

Start with the origins of your brand


The word-of-mouth is very strong in China. It is estimated that over 70% are strongly influenced by online comments when deciding if they should purchase something or not. You can take the example of some cross border brands in China who focuses on their “country” of origin.

As you can see on this picture, Christian Louboutin’s Chinese website still uses some French to show that it is a French brand and not just any brand.

Define a brand identity and profile which will speak to Chinese customers


Speaking about brand identity it is important to clearly show and define your brand’s position when compared with other competitors’ brands. Your brand could be “a range of products that will give a better social status”, “ a brand which enables you to show your unique experiences to your friends” (like Weibo for example or an image-based app) etc.

The success of the Apple brand is mainly due to its global reputation and charismatic leader. As highlighted by Adweek “The story of Steve Jobs’ entrepreneurialism and extraordinary achievement resonates well with affluent Chinese. It’s the story of their own striving reflected back at them. (…) giving Chinese efforts self-consciousness and recognition.”

Make it simple


When delivering a story and when trying to connect with people, using ultra complicated words or fuzzy words won’t help to establish a genuine link. Will you prefer to have a conversation with someone who says words you don’t know or someone you can understand easily? Well, I guess you made your choice right?


Don’t hesitate to use opinion leaders or KOL’s


One powerful way to gain more visibility and to build a great storytelling line is by using stars or KOL’s who possess values which align with your brand.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

Source: Tourism New Zealand

For example, New Zealand partnered with a famous Chinese artist called Huang Lei. He is an actor, teacher, producer and screenwriter and has more than 40 million followers on Weibo. The collaboration with New Zealand started with the TV show called: “Dad, Where are we going” on season 2. Several places in New Zealand were pictured in several episodes giving more visibility to the country.


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