When I worked in car marketing, one of the most important things I learned was that the most powerful way to sell a car was to put the prospective customer in touch with existing customers. This wouldn’t work for every car brand of course, but it worked for my client, Toyota – such was the level of customer satisfaction.

Customer Feedback

I remember recommending to them that they should set up a dedicated website where customers could leave their feedback and prospective customers could read reviews and make direct contact with specific questions. Before they could do this however, the Commercial Director left to become MD of Kia UK, and no sooner had he joined than he implemented this idea for his new company.

So today, whenever you see a Kia press ad, it says in the body copy, don’t take our word for it, check out what our customers say. You have to be very confident to do this – and you have to accept a number of brickbats along the way – but prospective customers want to hear from existing customers about their brand experience, especially with a relatively new or unknown brand. Hence the huge success of Trip Advisor, Rated People and other customer review sites.

Recruiting Chinese Students

The same principle works when you’re trying to recruit Chinese students especially. They are so far away from your country, not just in terms of distance but culturally too. So much as they can find out about factual stuff online from their homes in China, what they also want to know is what is:

  • What your town is like?
  • What is the campus like?
  • What’s the accommodation like?
  • What’s the food like?

If you can find a simple way to give them a good feel for all these, then your chances of converting them from short-list to firm choice are that much higher.

WeChat Marketing

By far the best way to achieve this is to open an Offer-Holder Group on WeChat – and make sure that it’s populated with some of your existing Chinese students – either volunteers or paid student ambassadors. There’s a limit of 500 on each WeChat group but no limit on the number of groups- so once the first has filled up, you simply start another.

They may require very light moderation, but otherwise, our experience shows that they become very active with daily posts well into four figures. Often the questions are not about the course or the university but concern all the soft elements – accommodation, city life, shopping and food.

It’s hardly surprising that food figures high on their agenda – it would for us if we were planning to spend a year or two in China. So they need to know if your city has Chinese supermarkets as well as Chinese restaurants. And who better to tell them what life is really like than an existing Chinese student?

The great thing about it is that it works and costs very little to implement. And your new cohort of Chinese students arrives every September relatively well informed about what lies ahead for them, by the cohort that has just left.