Selling in China Blog
If this property has underperformed, I’m not surprised. Its website (www.cityapartments.com.cn) says a lot. The complex’s name is City Apartments. When searching “city apartments Shanghai” on Google, the official website isn’t even in the first two pages of search returns. (There are references to the complex in listings on some real estate websites within the first two pages though.) This is problem number 1: horrible (non-existent) search engine optimization. The lack of SEO is particularly acute given that from a SEO perspective, the URL and complex name are pretty good.
English is the default language on the site, which means that there’s a heavy focus (if not outright emphasis on expats). However, the English text is obviously written by a non-native English speaker. The overly flowery marketing language (e.g.,“…a world of sumptuous luxury…”) indicates a direct translation from Chinese, rather than any real effort to write copy for the expat market.
Finally, the look and feel of the website is completely amateurish. One couldn’t be blamed for assuming the management company would be the same way (I have no idea – I’ve never been there. Actually, that’s a testament to how poorly they’ve marketed it. For 20 months, I lived literally 250 meters from the building; yet, never knew of its existence!)
It’s a shame to see a building such as this one underperform. As one of the relatively few non-strata title apartment buildings in Shanghai, it had a huge marketing advantage – particularly for the expat market. I can’t overstate the importance of that advantage.
If the property was underperforming (which is my inference based on the steep price reduction), I really have to wonder why Macquarie didn’t spend a few thousand USD (AT MOST!) to create a respectable, indexable site.
July 2, 2008 - The other day I was contacted by a Chinese woman that I recently met at a networking event in Shanghai. She asked to meet with me to “discuss business”. We agreed to meet at a Starbucks.
With my limited Chinese and her equally bad English, it took a while to get to the point of what she wanted to discuss. She kindly pulled out some paper print outs of her company’s description written in English. As I read on about the company being a reputable producer of Networking and Healthcare technologies, I noticed her pulling something else out of her bag and laying it on the table in front of me. I looked it for several minutes before realizing what it was. As it turns out, it was a pack of sanitary napkins. She was making a direct sales pitch for a revolutionary new sanitary napkin that she wanted to sell both to the local and expat female markets.
Now I was completely confused. When I first met her, she told me her company produced mobile phone components. How she moved from mobile phone components to feminine napkins is beyond me.
She continued to explain how this was a very lucrative business opportunity and the market for sanitary napkins was growing exponentially! She hoped to capitalize on my network of expat friends and business associates to help her distribute her product. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that most women (at least most expat women that I know) probably wouldn’t use the product and that in fact it would be extremely creepy for her to approach any one of them at a networking event.
I let her finish her pitch. However, when she mentioned that she would arrange for a special demonstration at her company’s office, I then decided this was a perfect time to end the meeting. I respectfully declined her offer and wished her the best of luck with her investment opportunity of a lifetime.