SFE – An Expo for Chinese Australian Families

SFE – An Expo for Chinese Australian Families

It’s a wrap for the Sydney Family Expo (SFE) 2023 at Sydney’s International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. And what an event it was! Two exciting and full on days designed specifically for local Chinese Australian residents. Exhibitors were an eclectic mix – from representatives of Australian government emergency services to local eCommerce platforms that cater to local consumers in Chinese, and many brands that want to cater to this demographic.


Sally Lean


I attended this event with my good friend and former classmate, Sally Lean. Sally is a coach who works with Chinese families and their children to improve their communication skills and build their confidence levels. These skills are often overlooked when Chinese children enter the Australian schooling system. 


Sally tackles issues in these family units where there is a clash between culture and expectation. For example. parents who have grown up in the Chinese education system now have kids in the Australian education system, and that brings issues of parental expectations that can cause misunderstandings, and lead to frustration. Sally bridges this gap, and smooths the way between parents and children.


High level language skills


One of those rare Australians who has lived and worked in China, Sally speaks Chinese at a very high level. She gave her presentation in Chinese and that was an eye-opener for the Chinese migrants to Australia who primarily made up the audience. They were left astounded, not just by her stats and knowledge, but by her language proficiency. Her presentation was broadcast through live streaming via the SFE App.


As I watched Sally give her presentation, a Chinese girl of around 16, said “Oh, my gosh!” I turned to her and asked her “What do you think?” She said she couldn’t believe Sally could speak Chinese so fluently. This young girl was from China, and came to Australia when she was 14. She had never been exposed to a Westerner speaking Chinese before and was certainly very impressed.


Working with Sally


I worked with Sally for this weekend event and was able to help her develop her marketing assets. Providing a service as opposed to a product can be a challenge for consultants. They’re not sure where or how to pitch their products, let alone build a strong call to action and ensure they maximise their potential at trade shows and events such as this.


Together we built a one page website, created a brochure, a pull up banner, and a poster. We also had WeChat channels for communication, and a registration form. At the event, we posted videos, and also content to promote Sally’s business. 


During the event, Sally was approached by the Chinese media, who were so enthralled with her presentation and skills that they did an interview with her for a full feature, and mentioned her in their article summaries of the event. This news media is broadcast to the Australian Chinese community, and it also flows back to mainland China.


While working with Sally this weekend, I’ve pulled together some key takeaways for service providers who are looking to engage with and market to the local Chinese audience. I often get asked about this, as marketing can look very different to product sales.


Key takeaways


1 Credentials are very important and it’s critical that you have these on display. They’re your gold tick of approval. When you don’t have them, your customers may not be convinced. For Sally, we listed them on her signage, on her brochures and her website, in plain view.


2 Presentation is key. In Sally’s case, being able to present in Chinese was a huge advantage, and enabled her to very quickly gain respect from her audience. If, however, we had not requested a presentation slot, this opportunity may not have happened. If you’re attending a trade event, always check if you can do a presentation. And ensure you present in Chinese or have someone do it for you. It will give you access to the broader audience, not just English speakers.


3 Having a clear offer is critical. Fine tune your offer, simplify its message and make sure you develop a compelling offer. If necessary, work with experts to make sure your offer is easy to present. All too often service offerings are too complex to explain simply. So make sure people can ‘get it’ quickly.


4 Language is critical to your success. In Sally’s case, she had the benefit of speaking to her customers in Chinese, which was highly effective. On the other hand, there were a number of stall holders who did not have the language skills to connect well with their audience, and I noticed their stands were not very busy.


Chinese living in Australia generally use their mother tongue, Chinese, more than English. And while some may speak English, if they are of Chinese origin, their preference will be for Chinese where complex matters are concerned. So make sure you have Chinese speakers and that they understand your business.


5 Collect your customers’ details at the trade show. For the Chinese, WeChat is an easy ask when it comes to collecting their information because it’s their preferred method of communication.


Once you connect, be sure to edit their name and tags used, so you remember how you met them, and what you need to follow up with them in the future. You could also make a WeChat Group for your audience, which is a popular and well accepted method of collecting larger audiences.


Aside from these key points, I always like to ensure my clients understand the value of these events in terms of their own learnings. Opportunities such as this where you can meet and talk to potential customers is very important for your business. 


Many consultants spend a lot of time in the office, devising savvy business proposals and 3 step plans for success on their computers. They miss the invaluable experience of talking to their customers, and discovering their fears, their wants and their needs. By doing this, you you may even learn that what you think they want, is in fact the opposite. This shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a bad outcome, but take a trip back to the drawing board to refine your offer so you really listen to your customers.


And always take notes as you go. There is so much information you can take from trade shows that it can be difficult to remember.


If you are interested to learn more about pitching your service business to the Chinese community here in Australia, or overseas? Then let’s connect!


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