With increasing geopolitical tensions and market share pressure to navigate, Victoria Guo helms Mars Communications as Founder & Principal Consultant. Speaking to Telum for this Agency Profile, she talks about working with mid-sized B2B companies and providing a point of focus for those looking to expand in Greater China and beyond.
What services does the agency offer?
We offer bespoke communications advisory for inbound and outbound B2B firms, particularly focused on the technology and professional service sectors. We help them navigate not only geopolitical tensions, but also showcase how their business are contributing to the economy and wider ecosystems.
Where does your agency have an office?
We are a hybrid agency based in Shanghai with presence in the Greater Bay Area (mainly Shenzhen and Hong Kong). This set-up has allowed us to capture major start-up, trade and media hubs and be closer to where innovation, finance and production are taking place.
Additionally, we have network support across key global markets including the US and the UK through our affiliate partner.
Do you have a particular area of focus?
In terms of company scale: from our team’s experience at in-house and large agencies, we believe mid-sized B2B technology and professional service companies are underserved by PR agencies. These firms are critical in wider international trade and are seeing strong growth as both companies and their sectors begin to mature. However, they struggle to get tailored and attentive services from top-ranked agencies, and large PR firms normally find that the budget is too limited to support them.
In terms of industries: as we work with many clients from the automation sector, our teams have developed strong understanding of the industrial landscape in Mainland China, as well as related technologies and applications.
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or are particularly proud of.
We are particularly proud of our work when it makes direct business relevance to our clients.
Earlier this year, we helped an electronics OEM launch one of its very first brand products. We were engaged to conduct market research with an aim to assess its business potential, identify key prospects and gather public feedback on its overall design and functionality. The research provided valid insights and guidance for our client to decide on the product positioning, design, pricing, and sales channels.
Right now, we are working with one of our technology clients in designing marcomms programmes into 2023, and an important part of that work is to strengthen its engagement with distributors, who make both a key target audience and an influential channel of PR.
For both briefs, the counsel has gone beyond traditional PR scopes and demonstrated growing requirements from clients that marcomms needs to deliver business value alongside sales and marketing counterparts.
What is next for your agency? What is the five-year goal?
In a sentence, describe your ideal relationship with a journalist.
- Become a specialist.
- Help our clients expand their business and teams.
- Grow our own teams and network in the Greater China region and overseas markets.
Be a good listener and understand what the journalist focusses on, as well as be ready to answer questions and provide media with sufficient ready-to-use reporting materials, including creatives.
Any key PR trends your agency is keeping an eye on?
The Greater China region presents a unique competition for mid-sized international B2B companies. They are challenged with market share pressure from state-owned enterprises and MNCs and the pricing race driven by emerging local players.
To carve out a piece of this tight market and build a strong positioning is hard. Their marcomms demands are often diversified yet very underserved. Communications service must therefore evolve. Regardless of the programme, it needs to contribute to two predominant goals for these businesses - lead generation and market growth.
What skillsets do you look for in new hires?
We are looking for talents with strong work ethics, thoughtful scepticism and breadth and depth of knowledge in relevant B2B disciplines.