Globalization: Making the world a smaller place
Last month, I attended the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) SME Summit in Hangzhou, China. Former President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd. He told us that the world's greatest hope for financial stability and sustained economic growth is a massive shift in wealth from a handful of precariously balanced and self-interested financial institutions to a multitude of small and medium businesses across the globe doing business with one another -- and technology is the accelerant bringing this change to life.
Bill's words. Not mine.
Globalization is an unstoppable force reshaping our society. The world's economies are inextricably linked. Technology has made geography irrelevant. Businesses around the world are doing business with one another and will continue to do so. This is big. This is mega big.
Many Americans have been slow to realize this. The web has given us all access to a whole new world of markets and partners that we can and should do business with. Technology can make every business a global business.
The recession has left millions of Americans out of work, many wondering what their next move should be. Today, they can start their own global business from the comfort of their living room.
The brand that gets it: Alibaba.com
Alibaba.com is the technology platform that is accelerating globalization. (Full disclosure: Alibaba.com is a client of my agency.) It's a website that helps small and medium-sized businesses around the world find suppliers or manufacturers for virtually any product or service they might need. Alibaba.com makes it possible for virtually anyone with a laptop and an idea to find a supplier half a world away to help them build a business. The site has 42 million members, and the company has grown from 18 employees to 10,000 in a decade.
When I was first introduced to Alibaba.com, I went on its website to check it out. I clicked on an interesting-looking button that said, "Submit a buying lead." Three minutes later, I had filled out a form seeking a supplier to produce 2,000 cashmere sweaters (I have expensive taste).
What happened next was amazing. Within 36 hours, I had 27 people from real companies around the world -- China, India, Egypt, Italy, Vietnam, and Bangladesh -- sending me emails offering to produce my sweaters, to send me samples, to be my partner. If I didn't love this agency gig so much, I'd be in the cashmere business right now.
Alibaba.com faced a tough challenge in the U.S. market this year. The brand was a relatively unknown quantity to most Americans, and the very notion of finding a trusted partner halfway across the world was foreign to a majority of small business owners in the U.S.
Alibaba.com introduced itself to the American with a marketing campaign that summed up everything you're able to do on its site:
Find it. Make it. Sell it.
"It" could be just about anything.
The campaign features stories of entrepreneurs that found partners on Alibaba.com that helped them create successful businesses. An integrated brand narrative used TV, print, and online media to build awareness and drive customers to success.alibaba.com where they could watch "mockumentary" videos of the campaign characters telling their stories, delve into case studies of real-life Alibaba entrepreneurs, and learn how they can get started using Alibaba.com for their businesses.