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A Day Not To Be Missed(HKTDC Hong Kong Trade Services, Vol 01,2003)

Vol 1, 2003








Design, Marketing & Communications

A Day Not To Be Missed

Building Brands Boosts Business

Protecting The Name And Domain

What Makes A Website Work?

Service Pays Dividends For Keen SMEs

A Day Not To Be Missed

A popular event: the SME Market Day has grown into a one-stop shop for all SME needs

Experts at the forefront of the booming private sector on the Chinese mainland will share their experiences and wisdom during one of the highlights of this year's SME Market Day in early June.

The mainland will be a key focus of the annual Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) event, which is designed to enable SMEs to boost export opportunities, enhance their global competitiveness, and find new customers and partners.

TDC head, customer service Lai Ching-Hung explains the mainland market provides many opportunities for SMEs, but knowledge of its many vagaries is advisable before starting out.

"More opportunities are emerging for SMEs despite the economic slowdown and a lot of them are related to business with the mainland,'' Lai says. "Of course, there are lots of challenges because the world market is becoming tougher and you have a lot of uncertainties.''

A series of seminars, forums and presentations will offer practical tips for doing business on the mainland, while mainland government officials will discuss regulatory issues and professionals such as accountants will talk about taxation requirements.

Designed as a "one-stop shop'', the Market Day will allow SMEs to access a full range of practical advice, informative seminars and open forums, as well as obtain market advice for their individual business and marketing needs.

For example, a business-matching service will act as a forum for discussions between local, mainland and overseas SMEs, allowing Hong Kong companies to meet with their counterparts from overseas and the mainland.

Other attractions include an SME Market Day Exhibition that will comprise 11 thematic pavilions featuring a range of SME service providers.

The World Market Access pavilion will provide TDC services, while the Global Connections pavilion includes international consulates, chambers of commerce, trade commissions and overseas trade organisations.

There will also be a China Trade pavilion featuring mainland provinces and the Foreign Trade Bureau. This will include a special Pearl River Delta (PRD) section to facilitate business opportunities with overseas and PRD enterprises.

In addition, the exhibitions will serve as a one-stop platform for banks, business training institutes, government departments and finance, IT, marketing, advertising, law and accounting firms to exhibit their products and services focusing on the needs of SMEs.

These will run in conjunction with a Design Services Expo in which approximately 20 Hong Kong design companies will exhibit and display their products.

The International SME Conference will see renowned SME experts and successful entrepreneurs from around the globe discuss challenges in the globalised market and SME world partnerships.

Other seminars will focus on practical SME management issues such as the supply chain, customer service and e-commerce. Specialist business forums will focus on the environmental protection industry on the mainland, Chinese medicine and biotechnology. On a broader scale, SMEs from around the world will discuss their successes in the Global Best Practice seminar.

TDC branch office directors from around the world will also return especially to Hong Kong to share their firsthand market intelligence and insight.

"The fundamental objective of the Market Day is to help Hong Kong SMEs enhance their competitiveness and provide them with information so they can secure opportunities,'' Lai says. "It is very practical information that SMEs need to know.''

He says about 30,000 Hong Kong SME representatives are expected to attend from various product and service sectors, including owners, directors, senior executives, marketing managers, financial controllers, entrepreneurs and operators of new start-ups.

In addition, about 2,000 overseas delegates, including those from the mainland, will visit and conduct business discussions with Hong Kong SMEs.

The TDC has organised a Market Day for SMEs for more than a decade, during which time it has grown into Hong Kong's one-stop shop for all the services SMEs need from both the public and private sectors.

This year's event will be held at Hall 1, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai on June 5-6 between 10am-8pm and on June 7 between 10am-6pm. Admission is free.

WRITTEN BY SUSAN SCHWARTZ

Coming back for more

Last year's SME Market Day was so successful that law firm Phyllis KY Kwong & Associates is coming back for more.

Principal Phyllis Kwong says the 2002 event helped the firm to grow and was beneficial to all 10 staff members.

"Last year was the first time we attended the SME market day," she admits. "It was a unique experience for us because we are a law firm and usually rather shy about promotion."

Kwong says the Market Day helped the firm focus its vision on its market position. "We have to have a niche and we chose the China market and SMEs," she explains.

The firm closed its office for two days so that staff could run the stall and a company representative also gave a speech. "This made us think about our image, logo and slogan," Kwong recalls. "We spent more than two months preparing our catalogues and pamphlets and updating our website.''

Kwong says a lot of planning and resources went into preparing for the day but it helped the firm focus on their strengths and services they provide to clients.

"We were able to make ourselves very accessible to potential clients and give them free and relevant legal advice,'' she says. "We were also able to make alliances and business partners with co-exhibitors such as accounting firms.''

Shortly after attending last year's exhibition the firm expanded, opening a new branch in The Galleria at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre focusing on overseas and mainland clients.


Building Brands Boosts Business

Congratulations: Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Denise Yue (right) presents the "Hong Kong Top Ten Brandname" trophy to A-Fontane Group Ltd chairman David Hui and vice managing director May Yim

Foodstuff manufacturers, a jewellery firm, a garment company and an office furniture manufacturer were among the deserved winners in the 2002 Hong Kong Top Ten Brandnames Competition.

Now in its fourth year, the annual competition is drawing an increasingly diverse field of entries amid expectations of future growth, according to Paul Yin, awards committee chairman and vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong (CMA), which organises the event.

"There were about 30 entries for the 2002 competition," Yin says. "In the future, we hope to have hundreds of entries, especially with the increasing number of companies starting their own brand."

Foodstuffs dominated in the past, but the trend recently has been towards more variety with entries coming from the pharmaceutical, machinery and recreational sectors. "We welcome all brands although we limit ourselves to manufactured goods. We're not talking about banks or services," Yin adds.

The competition is held in conjunction with, and is a highlight of, the Hong Kong Products Expo staged by the CMA from December 14, 2002 to January 5, 2003.

The idea for the awards arose out of a desire to promote the concept of brands among Hong Kong companies. "Hong Kong industry has been known as an OEM (original equipment manufacture) centre and we thought it was about time to make a transition from OEM to OBM (original brand manufacture)," Yin explains.

He says brand names are value-added products that are good for Hong Kong's manufacturing industry. "Having a brand name not only enhances the confidence of consumers but also encourages manufacturing companies to improve their products," Yin maintains. "If you have a brand, you have to maintain the quality. And not just maintain the quality, you have to continually improve the product."

Yin acknowledges that keen competition from companies on the Chinese mainland is helping to spur the development of Hong Kong brands. "Brands are becoming a necessity because of the changing environment. In the 1980s, Hong Kong companies enjoyed low labour costs by moving their factories to the mainland, but now many private companies on the Chinese mainland have grown and prospered. They can make many of the things that Hong Kong manufacturers can make. We have to make some value-added products and one of the value-added elements is a brand name."

Hong Kong brands are already giving the SAR's firms a competitive edge in sales to consumers on the mainland. "We enjoy some advantages because Chinese people admire Hong Kong fashion and Hong Kong movie stars. We're seen as being modern and we're known for making reliable products," Yin points out.

"Although some people can buy very high-priced products from Europe, their numbers are still limited. Most of the people are middle class. They like to buy good products but not the most expensive, so this is where we have another advantage."

Both large and small companies are capable of developing brands, but Yin admits that larger companies are probably better able to absorb the expenses associated with creating and building brand names. Smaller companies, in particular, may need a helping hand in order to overcome their financial limitations.

"To promote your own brand, you have to do many things. You have to have a promotional budget and many SMEs lack this. It's not impossible for smaller companies, but they may need more of a group effort with help from business organisations like ourselves, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council or the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The company cannot do it alone," he stresses.

To be eligible for the awards, the brand name should be established in Hong Kong or have substantially close relations with Hong Kong. For example, the brand should be targeted primarily at the Hong Kong market, the controlling shareholders of the company should be local residents, and the products should be mainly manufactured in Hong Kong.

The brand name should also be registered with the Intellectual Property Department of the SAR. If not, the company should produce sufficient evidence to clarify originality and brand name proprietorship.

Finally, the company should hold a valid Hong Kong Business Registration Certificate, and must demonstrate to the organiser that it has exclusive rights regarding the production or distribution of the brand.

Entries undergo a preliminary screening by CMA officials who select 14-18 applicants for the final judging, which consists of an interview by the judging panel and a 10-minute presentation plus input from the public in the form of online voting via the Internet and on-site voting at the Expo venue. Only the results from the on-site poll, however, are taken into account during the final judging.

The judging panel, which is composed of distinguished leaders in business and government, makes its decision based on:

  • reputation
  • product distinctiveness
  • innovative design and technology
  • product quality
  • imaging and packaging
  • environmental benefits associated with the design, use of raw materials, energy consumption and production management.

The CMA selects 10 winners and also hands out three special awards: an Honorary Award and awards for Emerging Brandname and Most Popular Brandname On-line.

The Honorary Award is presented to entrants who have been previous winners; the Emerging Brandname recognises the brand that shows the greatest potential but falls just short of winning (the company places eleventh); and the Most Popular Brandname On-line is awarded to the company that polled the most votes at the Expo's online website.

Winners receive a trophy and a certificate, are entitled to use the award logo for promotional purposes for two years and have the opportunity to display their products for two weeks at the TDC's Design Gallery in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The association has taken its message about Hong Kong brands on the road, participating in the International Forum on China's Top Brand Strategy and Products Expo held in Shenzhen on the mainland in November 2002. More than 20 companies from Hong Kong exhibited their products and brands in the Hong Kong Hall at the Expo, and another delegation is likely to take part in the show this year.

Another idea under discussion is a plan to establish a board of previous Top Ten winners which would provide manufacturers with a platform in which to share their experiences and insights.

"The aim would be to get a group of people together who would be interested in promoting brand names, because we think a group effort is better than fighting alone," Yin maintains.

But, ultimately, he believes a coordinated response from the general public, government and trade organisations would be the most effective approach. "This is not just a CMA project. We want to widen the scope of people's thinking," he insists. "By helping each other, we can help Hong Kong brands penetrate overseas markets."

WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA

2002 Hong Kong Top Ten Brandnames Awards / Honorary Award
A-Fontane A-Fontane Group Ltd


2002 Hong Kong Top Ten Brandnames Awards

Camel Brand

Hop Hing Holdings Ltd

Chicks Chun Au Knitting Fty Ltd
Chow Tai Fook Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co Ltd
Four Seas Four Seas Mercantile Ltd
Hung Fook Tong Hung Fook Tong Holdings
Lamex Lamex Trading Co Ltd
Lo Hong Ka Lo Hong Ka Birdnests Wholesale Ltd
Neil Pryde Neil Pryde Ltd
Red Lantern Lam Soon Oils and Fats Ltd
Sea Horse Seven Seas Chemicals (Holdings) Ltd


2002 Hong Kong Top Ten Brandnames Awards / The Emerging Brandname

L K L K Machinery Co Ltd


2002 Hong Kong Top Ten Brandnames Awards / The Most Popular Brandname On-line

Chow Tai Fook Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co Ltd

Protecting The Name And Domain

One company's brand investment can quickly become another's profit in the wake of increasing counterfeit activities around the world.

Trademark registration is a relatively inexpensive price to pay to safeguard brand and company reputations.

However, tackling the process for trademark registration alone can be such a time-consuming, frustrating and tedious task that many companies simply give up.

One innovative Hong Kong firm has overcome that thorny problem by offering an inexpensive one-stop shop for global trademark design and registration, including domain names - vitally important in today's crowded Internet market.

"Registration is very important to prevent others from infringing a company's trademark rights," says Hilda Lam, director of TrademarkLogo.com, one of the leading Hong Kong companies of its kind and the first to offer online services for trademark design through to registration and global monitoring.

Spearheaded by Hong Kong law firm Robert WH Wang & Co, nearly all the trademark registration procedures required can be completed or accessed online at TrademarkLogo.com.

These include the costs of the various options available in whichever country is selected, as well as inspection and approval of unique logo designs.

"Most of our clients are Hong Kong companies and around 50% are small and medium-sized enterprises," says Lam. "In the past year we have handled some 300 online applications."

Successful trademark registration provides exclusive rights to use a trademark for the trade of goods and services for which it is registered. "Once a company has received registration it can take infringement action against another party for unethical use of the mark or any similar mark in respect of the same or similar goods or services," says Lam.

"If your mark is registered, all you have to do is show your trademark certificate and there is no need to prove anything," she adds.

On the other hand, if a trademark is not registered, any legal proceedings incurred will require a far higher burden of proof on the claimed "owner" to prove that the mark is reputable.

Indeed, the only legal recourse may be under the common law tort of passing off (in which the company would have to prove goodwill and reputation in the mark, that there had been a misrepresentation, and that there is damage suffered or that there is a likelihood of damage).

Laws against unfair competition and the like could also provide some recompense, although all legal options entail a much higher burden of proof and are therefore more costly.

Trademarks are territorial in nature, explains Lam, so to secure trademark protection it is important to register in every country where a company intends to use that mark.

But before doing so, Lam strongly suggests conducting a pre-file search in each country to check for any conflicting trademarks. "A pre-file search is not compulsory but is strongly advised to prevent trying to register a mark that has already been registered or applied for registration," says Lam.

At US$190 for a pre-file search in Hong Kong, this would be money well spent as it can avoid later, more expensive procedures if a company's logo conflicts with one already registered or applied for registration, which would then render the application unsuccessful.

"The Trade Marks Register in Hong Kong started offering online trademark searching in January 2003 so, technically speaking, a company can conduct its own search," says Lam.

However, she adds that for more difficult marks, the search can be complex and advises using a professional trademark service. "Companies can find difficulty with constructing the specifications and the requirements the registrar is looking for. Also, if their mark is provisionally refused, they may not know how to deal with the objections, which sometimes are unreasonable and can be overcome without necessarily rejecting the mark."

Lam also feels that, under the new Trade Marks Ordinance, which came into effect on April 4, 2003, trademark registration should be easier. She says that more marks are registrable such as smells and sounds. Moreover, the government fees payable for a trademark registration have been substantially reduced.

Once a trademark has been checked and cleared, the company then files the trademark application for registration. "After the trademark is approved for registration, it is then advertised in the Government Gazette for three months to see if there is any opposition," says Lam. "If there is no opposition, then we apply for the Certificate of Registration for the trademark."

Protection offered by registration is indefinite, subject to payment of a renewal fee on expiry of the term of registration, which is 10 years from the date of application.

Companies in Hong Kong can register a brand or trademark before it is used, but once it is registered the trademark must be used or it can be cancelled for non-use. Under the new ordinance, the period of "non-use" has been decreased from five years to three.

For the mainland, this period has always been three years but for the US, an affidavit of use must be filed every five years to prevent the mark being expunged. In addition, for the US, a company must file an affidavit to show the mark has been used before finally being granted the Certificate of Registration for the trademark.

Charges for registration services are fairly modest, with TrademarkLogo.com charging US$1,280 for a one-class straightforward application in Hong Kong (which includes all official fees and other disbursements from initial filing and from acceptance stage to registration).

For registration purposes, goods and services are classified into some 42 classes according to the International (Nice) Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks. Many countries adopt this classification system.

Professional services can offer valuable support in understanding the class application procedures. For example, in some countries like the US and Singapore it is possible to file a "multi-class" application, to cover goods/services placed in more than one international class. But in other countries, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia, an application may only cover a single class of goods/services. However, under the new ordinance, multi-class applications will be available in Hong Kong.

The procedure may sound complex, but in reality, TrademarkLogo.com's simple online service helps clients easily identify the classes of product or service and the applications required to be filed, or searches to be conducted.

Hong Kong companies are also looking to register their trademarks overseas and TrademarkLogo.com provides similar services for clients seeking registration in countries around the world.

Using its network of legal pro-fessionals who specialise in intellectual property law, TrademarkLogo.com can meet the trademark needs of most Hong Kong clients, although time and price may vary considerably depending on countries required.

"Costs vary, country by country," says Lam. "For example, the US is more expensive as you have to file an affidavit proving use of the trademark. Then, every five years you must file a declaration of continued use to maintain the registration."

However, it is now possible to register a mark in more than one country by filing a single application under some international arrange-ments, making the application process much easier.

"In one application to the European Union (EU), you can file for a trademark covering 15 European countries," explains Lam. The cost of a straightforward registration to the EU through TrademarkLogo.com is US$5,130 for a one-class application.

It is also proposed that a central registration system be established for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

Not surprisingly, the most popular country for Hong Kong companies registering their trademarks is the mainland, followed by the US, the EU, Korea and Canada, says Lam.

While the system of pre-file search and registration in the mainland is similar to that in Hong Kong, "it's much more time-consuming", says Lam.

"Straightforward trademark registration in Hong Kong takes about seven months, but for the mainland it's at least two years. In the US it's about 18 months and around the same for Europe."

However, the mainland is one of the cheapest countries in which to search and file an application, with TrademarkLogo.com prices at US$130 for a pre-file search and US$900 for a one-class straightforward application.

While the registration process may take months, the design of a suitable logo takes just a matter of days and costs US$500. Using TrademarkLogo.com's online service, experienced designers who have created identities for major inter-national corporations, can deliver an online choice of no fewer than five designs, normally in three working days after instruction.

"We have some logos already designed that can be adapted, or our designers can create tailor-made marks - the cost is same," explains Lam. "What we ask for is specific information about the name of the company, the proposed goods or services, the proposed idea of the mark and colour requirements.

"Most Hong Kong companies seek trademarks for goods, such as clothing, shoes, watches, clocks, computers, paper products, sporting articles, toys, food and beverages." In addition, many services companies from travel, hotel, retail and wholesale, insurance and finance industries seek to register service marks.

"Although trademark legislation has been available for several decades, it has become popular over the past five to six years for Hong Kong companies to register trademarks," says Lam.

She says the major reasons for this are the growth in trademark infringement and the resulting substantial decrease in sales and the desire to protect a brand's reputation from inferior quality goods. In addition, Hong Kong companies are increasing their business worldwide so need wider trademark registration.

There is also a growth in the registration of domain names in line with the increase in Internet use, particularly with search engines providing a valuable access to websites and potential business sales.

There is also a proliferation of "cybersquatting", where someone takes a mark or company name and registers it as a domain name in the hope of selling the name back to the original owner.

While a system for settling these kinds of disputes on an international level is emerging, it would still incur costly legal fees to return the domain name to its rightful owner.

"Domain names are a growing part of our business," says Lam. "Registration of domain names has been possible for a period of time.

"Companies cannot claim exclusive rights to any indistinctive portions of the name, such as '.com', '.com.hk' or 'company limited', etc.

"Registration is also easier for domain names, as long as there is no other name registered, and can take just a week."

The company also provides other trademark services, including Global Watch, a routine maintenance service that helps companies to monitor renewal deadlines to ensure that important registrations are renewed.

Through its network of legal professionals, the company can also conduct worldwide surveillance services to monitor conflicting trademark applications so that objections can be taken if required.

While trademark registration may seem like a long and time-consuming process, companies like TrademarkLogo.com can make the journey easier, relatively inexpensively.

It seems a comparatively small price to pay to protect a valuable brand name or trademark, which has likely taken years and considerable investment to build.

WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER

Registering a brand or trademark

  • Design an attractive logo or trademark that is unique and reflects your company and product identity
  • Consider whether your trademark is registrable - is it likely to conflict with another mark
  • If you wish to use a trademark services company, look at the "cost, quality and efficiency" of the company
  • Conduct a pre-file search to check that the mark is not already registered or filed for registration
  • If all is clear, file for registration to the Register of Trade Marks
  • If there are any objections from the registrar about your mark's registration, check with your lawyer or trademark service company to see whether these objections can be overcome
  • If you use an online trademark service, keep a regular check on the stage of your application
  • Once you have successfully received your trademark certificate, make sure you remember to renew it in any country where you are using it, or advise your trademark services company to monitor renewal deadlines for you

What Makes A Website Work?

by Jack Thorpe
Director of Operations, Shanghai, Lemon (Asia) Ltd and
Neil Runcieman, Chief Executive Officer, Lemon (Asia) Ltd

Let's play: this game developed for Hong Kong's Integer Pavilion is designed for a youth audience

For businesses large and small, the Internet has provided a new channel to communicate with customers, establish profitable partnerships, tap into new markets and streamline back-office operations.

It empowers SMEs with a reach and voice once reserved for the largest multinationals, cost of entry is low and returns can be very high.

Despite all this potential, the question remains: What makes a website work?

While there are certainly no easy answers, there are some simple rules that can be applied to both big, e-commerce sites as well as small, "mom-and-pop" online brochures. Ironically these rules are almost identical to those used to craft other forms of effective communication.

Know your goal

The single most important rule in building a good website is to know what you want it to do for you! As a result of Internet hype, many people rush to get online without thinking clearly about their business needs.

The Web supports a broad range of capabilities. You can deliver high-impact graphics and animation, talk one-on-one with your customers, build a database to collect customer information, or sell your products and services.

Alternatively, perhaps you are looking for another channel to support your offline marketing or perhaps you are building an online portal that will serve as the cornerstone of your business.

Begin by asking yourself these questions: Are my current marketing efforts doing the job? Where are there shortcomings in my internal operations? Do I know what my customers need and want? Do they know my brand?

Know your audience

Once you have a clear idea of your business goals, you must determine with whom you want to communicate. Because the Web is an interactive medium, it is critical that you organise your content and site structure from the user's point of view. Whether you are talking to new customers, trained professionals or your internal staff will have a strong effect on how you build your site. It is important to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they would search for information, ask questions or complete a transaction.

Further, communicating your offer online is different than through a print ad or direct mail package. Attention span is even shorter online than in the real world. The Web offers many sources of quality content. You must grab attention firmly and quickly. Keep your message short and navigation to important content fast. Offer local languages when addressing a regional audience.

Finally, remember that the Web lets your customers talk back. If you are not sure who your customers are then ask them. By providing email contact or online "suggestion boxes" you can gather comments on users' experience of your site - good and bad.

Clear architecture

A common mistake on websites is bad information architecture. Information architecture is the way you organise the content and navigation on your website. What do you present on your home page? How do you set up your main sections and subsections? How do you let users navigate down into your site? And once there, do they get lost easily?

The challenge with the Web is that there is so much information available - perhaps too much - and users tend to drift off if they cannot find what they're looking for. Further, depending on the goal of your site - to sell products, to collect customer contacts, to announce a product launch - you need to ensure that customers can complete that transaction or "get the message" as quickly and painlessly as possible.

A general watchword for information architecture is simplicity. Keep your site and its organisation as simple as possible. Given the confusion that we often encounter on the Web, customers value a clean, easy-to-use website.

Good design

Another common mistake committed online is bad design. Of course, design is subjective and beauty in the eye of the beholder. But there are basic rules of graphic design that are easily broken. Flashing text and flaming logos are distracting. Red text in a blue textbox is hard to read. Leopard skin backgrounds are just plain awful!

Because the Web is a new technology does not give you license to break all the rules of your corporate guidelines. Your website should reflect - graphically - the image and identity of your brand. If you are a professional, sophisticated company have a professional, sophisticated website. If you are an irreverent, edgy company have an irreverent, edgy website.

Appropriate technology

As important as the look and feel of your website is the technology infrastructure it is built upon. This area is where many business people get uncomfortable. While it's not rocket science, it is important to understand the types of technology that enhance your website's ability to perform transactions, collect information or allow for easy maintenance.

First generation, low-tech solutions - HTML text files - can work for simple sites. Connecting your website to a database is the next step and allows you to "serve" pages from a centralised location and collect information from users of your site. You may also choose to implement transactional software for e-commerce. Animated, "vector" graphics can bring your site to life with motion and sound.

There are very few things you cannot do on the Web. All these technologies add functionality - and cost - to your site. The key is to match that technology with your business needs.

Connect with customers

Now more than ever, you can connect with thousands of customers and ask them, one at a time, what they want from your company, what they're satisfied with and what you can do better. By encouraging this conversation, you can figure out exactly what your customers are thinking and how to make them happy.

Every touch-point you share with your customers is an opportunity to collect more information about them. You can collect information by gathering email addresses, posting questionnaires or having an online "suggestions" box. You'd be amazed how likely customers are to share their opinions if you ask them nicely.

Further, the Web is very good at allowing customers to talk with each other. Setting up a forum where customers can discuss your products/services is a great way to create a sense of ownership for your customers. Customers respect you for respecting their opinions.

Maintenance

Building your site is just the beginning. Every good website receives regular care and attention - content is updated, functionality is upgraded and the structure of the site changes in response to the feedback generated by customers.

Be sure to include maintenance and upkeep as a consideration while building your site. It is important to consider how often you'll need to update your site - perhaps once a day or once a quarter. From here, you can decide what resources you will need in-house or if there is a special technology - such as a content management server - to help with site maintenance. Ultimately you have to be prepared to be ready to commit to your site as it grows and changes with your business.

Traffic

It is not enough to simply build your site. You must be committed to generating traffic. Utilise other marketing collateral - print, call centres, direct mail, customer contacts. Everything that you send out should have your website address.

You can also run special campaigns - advertising or otherwise - that drives traffic to your site. If customers like your products or services they will be happy to visit your site to learn more. Also, it is advisable to "invite" them to your site by providing an option to receive periodic emails that alert them to new updates or options on the site.

Do not be afraid!

A key point - and perhaps the most important - is that the Web is always changing and evolving. So should your site. Don't be afraid to launch your site and see what happens. Collect feedback. Talk to different people about it. And then make improvements that make sense. Unlike most other marketing projects which require serious lead-time and investment, websites are quick to change and cheap. Play with the options.

Ultimately, your website is an important resource for your communications and company. Make the most of it!

Golden rules of Web design

While every website reflects the different business needs of a company, there are a few "tried and true" rules you can follow to ensure a good website.

Know your goal

Make sure you begin your Web project with a clear idea of your business requirements and how your website will satisfy those needs

Know your audience

Put yourself in your customers' shoes and imagine how they would search for information, ask questions or complete a transaction

Clear architecture

Make sure your site is organised to allow your customers to find information and complete transactions as quickly and easily as possible

Good design

Obey the basic rules of good graphic design. Your website should reflect - graphically - the image and identity of your brand

Appropriate technology

Employ the right kinds of technology that meet your business needs and positively enhance the user's experience of your site

Connect with customers

Encourage two-way communication with your customers. You can figure out exactly what they're thinking and how to better serve them

Maintenance

Be ready to commit to upgrading and enhancing your site as it grows and changes with your business

Traffic

Once you've launched your site, be committed to getting existing and potential customers to visit it. Everything that you push to customers should have your website address

Do not be afraid!

Don't be afraid to launch your site and see what happens. Collect feedback. Talk to different people about it. And then make improvements that make sense

Connecting with customers

Searching made simple: site information architecture allows users to navigate by business area or regional office

Jardine Logistics developed a website to support its sales, training and internal communications drives as part of a turnkey corporate communications and marketing communications package.

Built around Lemon's own content management software, Jardine Logistics has rolled out the new package worldwide to huge approval ratings from customers and staff alike.

A primary business requirement of the website (www.jardine-logistics.com/jl/home/index.xml) was the need to manage access to multiple business areas - marine, aviation, warehousing, etc - from a central starting point.

This requirement was extended to serving Jardine Logistics' multiple, regional locations while maintaining tight security on content and centralised content management without impeding content updates.

Lemon worked closely with Jardine Logistics in developing a flexible information architecture allowing users to navigate the website by business area or location.

Further, Lemon addressed the need to keep the website fresh by implementing its proprietary content management system (CMS). An ideal solution for a company that does not have the in-house resources to devote to web content management, Lemon's Content Central supports easy updating, low-cost maintenance and zero error-risk in quality control.

Jardine Logistics has broadened its range of digital assets with an interactive presentation tool built on Lemon's Presentation Central. This tool, which reuses much of the content on the website, allows regional sales staff to present a consistent, high-quality image of the company, while allowing each agent to customise his presentation. Together with its website, Jardine Logistics is leveraging several communications channels to connect with its customers.


Service Pays Dividends For Keen SMEs

Sourcing for the world: Marlow Int'l Ltd provides products and premiums for many major global accounts

Small and medium-sized enterprises are playing an increasingly large role in one of Hong Kong's most important industry awards. The recent 2002 Hong Kong Awards for Services saw a refreshing mix of large enterprises and SMEs among the 160 entrants competing in five main categories - Innovation, Productivity, Customer Service, Tourism Services and Export Marketing.

SMEs were particularly prominent in the Export Marketing category, which was organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) to give recognition to the SAR's service providers for their marketing efforts overseas.

"We encourage the participation of SMEs in the Export Marketing category," says TDC senior services promotion manager Brian Ng. "SMEs are the backbone of Hong Kong's economy and make up more than 98% of all Hong Kong companies.

"Many are performing very well in marketing their services overseas and in the past five years there have been quite a number of SMEs participating and winning awards."

Marlow Int'l Ltd and Midas Design Associates (MDA) have maintained the proud tradition of SME success in the past five Export Marketing Award contests, winning against stiff competition in the 2002 event.

Marlow is a premium sourcing and product marketing agent of promotional merchandise. Headquartered in Hong Kong with offices servicing businesses around the world, Marlow numbers several Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Fujifilm, Chevron Texaco and Glaxo Smith Kline among its clients.

The company has conducted extensive market research in order to penetrate new consumer markets in Europe, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Mexico and Thailand.

According to the judging panel, it has proactively improved its service quality through creative product development, strategic purchasing and global account management, which assists its customers in aligning their global branding strategies.

Marlow has shown strong export sales growth and successfully secured the premium sourcing needs of its major global accounts. Its continual growth will be further reinforced by its sourcing activities and procurement operations on the Chinese mainland this year.

Managing director Alec Pettigrew says Marlow entered the awards for two main reasons: to find out where they stand and to gain credibility. "We are an SME, but our image in the market is bigger than our revenue. Being an SME in Hong Kong, which is a very entrepreneurial place, allows us to move very quickly," he explains. "It is not just about price benefits - that is not enough as people can source on the Internet today - but we offer a package."

In fact, he refers to Marlow as a service company rather than simply a trading entity. "I see us as an enabler," Pettigrew says. "We show multi-nationals what they can do globally and thereby take advantage of economies of scale."

Its Hong Kong location is crucial to the company's success. "We source from 5,000 factories all over mainland China," Pettigrew says. "I can receive an enquiry in the morning, send someone to the mainland to collect a sample and dispatch it the same day. It is both fast and cost-effective."

MDA, a young and energetic communications consultancy specialising in developing marketing and promotional solutions for large multinational corporations, proved equally successful.

The judging panel was impressed with MDA's clear and focused marketing strategy in identifying its niche market and positioning itself as the premium service provider to large corporations. It has been especially successful in tailoring its services to meet customers' needs.

The company's sound marketing strategies have been formulated through extensive market research that has led to impressive year-on-year sales growth. MDA's client list currently includes Vivendi, Water Asia, Agilent Technologies, Asia Airfreight Terminal and Sony Music (Asia).

MDA managing director Harris Choy says the award complements the design awards that the company has also garnered. "We are known for our design capability and client servicing, so this [award] shows another aspect to the company - our management skills," he says.

"It shows how we manage human resources, how we train our staff and so on. The award is like a benchmark. It has garnered a lot of coverage, thanks to TDC, which our clients have seen and are impressed with. Since we are penetrating the mainland rapidly, the award helps with our credibility with mainland companies."

A total of 18 applications were received in the Export Marketing category from a variety of industries - cargo handling, logistics, sourcing, marketing and event management, relocation, dispute resolution, architectural design, Web design, database management, travel and construction information.

Six companies were shortlisted for the award. Companies were judged on various key factors, including marketing strategies, market research, export sales performance, personnel management and company vision.

The Grand Award winner was Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (HACTL), the sole operator of SuperTerminal 1, the world's largest air cargo terminal in terms of tonnage throughput that serves about 60 major international airlines.

Five other companies were shortlisted: Crown Relocations, Excel Hong Kong Ltd, Jardine Logistics Services (HKG) Ltd, Marlow and MDA.

Winners receive several benefits from the awards. The Grand Winner is entitled to display the Hong Kong Awards for Services logo for three years on its stationery, press advertisements and other promotional materials.

All the winners receive publicity through TDC channels such as its webcast at tdctrade.com. "But most importantly, winning is a recognition of excellence that definitely enhances the company's image," notes Ng.

The Hong Kong Awards For Services were developed to reflect the increasing importance of the services sector that contributes more than 85% of Hong Kong's GDP and employs over 80% of its workforce in more than 280,000 establishments.

Services exports amounted to US$20.6bn in the first half of 2002, a 3.6% growth over the same period in the previous year, and are the engine of growth for the local economy.

WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS

A worthy winner

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd's (HACTL) determination to become Asia's preferred air cargo terminal and logistics support service provider clearly impressed the judging panel.

HACTL is building on the strategic advantages it enjoys with SuperTerminal 1 at Hong Kong Int'l Airport, currently the world's largest stand-alone air cargo terminal and recognised as one of the most technologically advanced.

SuperTerminal 1 handles 80% of air cargo throughput and is the logistics partner for approximately 60 airlines and 900 freight forwarders worldwide. While HACTL's core business is physical cargo handling, it also provides an extensive range of customer-focused services including import/export documentation handling, ramp handling and logistics support solutions.

According to the judging panel, HACTL has a number of strengths. It has a very clear vision of Hong Kong as the regional transportation hub and the gateway to the Chinese mainland. The company responds very promptly to market change.

In recognition of the huge potential of cargo handling for the Chinese mainland, it has pioneered a highly innovative intermodal service called SuperLink China Direct that has significantly shortened the delivery time of air cargo between Hong Kong and the mainland.

With its world-class infrastructure and logistics support services, HACTL is able to handle a versatile range of special items such as perishables, oversized cargo, valuables and explosives seamlessly. Coupled with its aggressive marketing efforts, HACTL has won numerous contracts against other regional airport terminal operators in handling special cargoes.

"We are very clear and dedicated in our mission to be the preferred air cargo terminal and logistics support service provider in Asia," says managing director Anthony Wong.

"To achieve our objective, we adopt a multi-faceted marketing strategy, aimed at addressing the needs of the complex relationships between the shippers, traders, consignees, freight forwarders and carriers while utilising HACTL's industrial automation backbone, information services and intermodal services, to create value for the stakeholders while maximising competitive advantages.

"Winning the award is not only a recognition of our efforts, but also serves as an impetus for us to work even harder in maintaining a high level of service and efficiency for our customers and for the airfreight community as a whole," notes Wong.

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