Olivier Verot is a 36 years old entrepreneur from France. He is now the CEO of Gentlemen Marketing Agency, a pure digital player dedicated to the Chinese market. Olivier decided to travel to China about 11 years ago and fell in love with its culture, people and environment. Olivier is now married to an incredible Chinese woman and have a child. He has worked and lived in China since 2008 and have not looked back since. Olivier discovered China by participating to a semester long exchange program at Dalian University when he was in business school.
In regards to his knowledge and experience in both Marketing and the Chinese market, Olivier can be described as a Chinese digital marketing lead generation specialist. His company, Gentlemen Marketing Agency, offers different services related to using a Chinese tailored digital strategy to enter the Chinese market. Services range from community management, e-reputation, SEO to content marketing. All of which allows their clients to create tangible leads and more traffic to their website or online business. They also provide well-though out and captivating articles on our French and English websites (marketing-china and marketing to china). They can accommodate international clients as their team is culturally diverse and made of French and Chinese employees.
In your own words, what do you do?
As a CEO, I oversee the team and take care of the big projects. Besides assigning tasks and projects to my project managers and lead generation interns, I am also in charge of replying to request for proposals/quotation, meeting prospective clients and most importantly thinking through a value added digital marketing strategy to meet our client’s requirements, thanks to my numerous years of experience in the Chinese market.
What led you to your current business?
My passion for marketing, as well as my love for the Chinese culture and market, led me to the creation of my blog Marketing in China a few years ago. As my blog started receiving more and more traffic and attention, I started to get comments and messages from visitors willing to know more about digital marketing in China and thus started doing some freelancing. After 3 years I decided to take the leap, and created in 2012, the Gentlemen Marketing Agency in collaboration with Phillip Lim, a Chinese marketing professional.
Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?
The first step that helped me in developing my business is having a successful blog. Writing high quality and relevant content allowed me, not only to connect with prospective clients who could eventually be interested in my services, but also to enjoy a good ranking on the most used search engine in the world, Google. Everybody do their research before engaging with a company to get information about their expertise, advice, reviews or even just contact information. The second step was to continue to build momentum by creating a lead generation strategy. Gentlemen Marketing Agency mainly relies on online lead generation. Even though I started my compan, I didnít stop my blog and continued to supply good quality content and information for my readers by posting frequently. Thus, we gain new clients thanks to our expertise in SEO, e-reputation, content marketing and so on. it is important to note that an entrepreneur should use its own talents to create his own opportunities. Why should you act like others when you can do better with your own skills, team and strengths?
Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?
Just like any entrepreneurs, I had to overcome obstacles to get to where I am today. One of the difficult parts of being an entrepreneur is the fact that I had to leave my home country, France, to establish myself in China. This ultimately means living far away from your friends and family which can, sometimes, be difficult. However, I am lucky to say that I have my family here in China and can once a year go back to France. Another thing is the work-life balance when you start a business, I had to learn how to juggle between working hard for the business and still enjoying some resting time.
What is your long term plan?
My long-term plan is to grow Gentleman Marketing Agency to be :
1) The most well-known, reputable and sought out Digital Marketing agency in China by foreign brands looking to enter the Chinese market,
2) Develop the business internationally maybe in Asia or France,
3) Employing more staff to cope up with our new projects and having an overall improved turnover.
Could you share with us some industry insights?
The digital landscape in China is rapidly evolving and changing every day. What you knew two years ago doesnít apply today. To give you an example, before WeChat was born, QQ was the most used instant messaging app in China. WeChat has now surpassed all of the other social platforms and remains strong at the first seat. Basic things you have to know about Chinese digital marketing are the fact that the social media platforms are merely Chinese. The main social media are WeChat (more than 690 million active users worldwide and first market: China), Weibo (a twitter-like microblogging platform with over 220 million active users), QQ, and Ren Ren (similar to Facebook). Concerning search engines, Google is out of sight and Baidu dominates owning about 80% of the Chinese search engine market.
There are a lot of things to say, but I think it is important to note that Chinese are very web and tech-savvy, they mostly use their mobile phone to access the internet and do so daily. A study found that Chinese internet users spend on average 25 hours a week just browsing the web! Also about 90% own at least one social media account. A lot of services in China are provided through mobile apps and the internet. You can book a taxi, get your lunch delivered to your home and even your groceries.
What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?
You have to work hard! Nothing is easy in life and even less when you decide to run your own business. Managing people is the most complex part but also the most rewarding. You have to choose your employees and co-workers wisely. Finally, networking and connecting with people genuinely and providing relevant high-quality content is the way to go to grow your business.
Any tips for achieving success?
Have a vision, know where you are going. Also, don’t listen to nay-sayers and believe in your talents as well as your team ability to succeed. Finally, work hard, team up with the right people and enjoy the road!