Asian economies comprise more than 4 billion people (60% of the world population) and you would have to have been living under a stone for the last 15 years not to have noticed the growing economic weight of the region.
I’m glad to see the rise of emerging markets and hope it restores some much needed balance to the world.
I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Asia. I’ve warmed to Asian philosophies, attitudes, diets, religions and medicines more than I have to those from the West. And, despite this being an English language blog, nearly a third of the readers here are Asian!
Don’t take the title of this article to mean that I see Asia as a “threat” or an “enemy” to my business or that Asian outsourcing is somehow a bad thing. It’s completely the opposite.
We’re living in an interesting time of commerce. The rise of internet technology has meant that Asian firms and individuals can compete much more freely with their European and North American counterparts. There has never before been a time when two people of equal abilities at opposite ends of the world – one who may need to charge $50/hour; the other $5/hour – are competing on an almost level playing field.
Not only are factory jobs being moved from the West to the East, but also middle class engineering jobs are going to Asia. Apple makes iPhones in China, for example, and we are only just beginning to see how these changes will affect all our lives.
A western design consultancy could charge $500+ for a logo to go on a website which can be bought from a designer in Malaysia for $5. Some sales copy could be charged at $500+ for 500 words in the US could also be written in the Philippines for $5. There will always be an argument about quality, of course, I’ll come back to that later.
While those of us in the West need to know how to compete against these prices, my readers from the East need to know how to get good Western clients.
Play to your strengths
At the moment work that’s outsourced most successfully to Asia is call center work, help desk/IT support, etc. However the quality of this work will continue to rise in the future.
Many people consider back-end developers from the Indian subcontinent to be of a very high standard but consider their front-end ability lacking. So, while Asian companies improve this side (and that won’t take them long!), you can point out to potential clients your front-end expertise.
The peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of the English language can work in favor of a native speaker. Sometimes only someone with total command of English can construct an English interface properly.
Whether your strengths include language, design or user experience, put these qualities at the forefront of your unique selling point.
Communicate to your clients that you understand the “why” of the job. This will increase the confidence the client has in you.
“Own” the whole job
Whatever your business does, it operates as a small part of a larger picture.
You may only be building web pages but, ultimately, these web pages are going to need SEO, social interactivity and all sorts of marketing if they’re going to be successful. Try to explain to your client that the best person to market a website is the person that built it. You may be designing some business cards. So, offer the client printing and delivery.
Try to branch out from your core business to the neighboring offshoots of the ecosystem so that you can “own” bigger processes and contracts.
Diversify your business so that you can offer your clients the whole package instead of
small bits of a larger job.
Always use clear and precise language when dealing with a client, as this shows you can be trusted with larger and larger processes.
This may sound like a contradiction, advising you to specialize right after advising you to diversify. But I think you can do both.
It’s great for your clients to hear that you specialize in something that they want. Specialize in what you enjoy doing and provide these services to clients. Also, make sure you compete in terms of quality and not price.
You will never win when competing with price. Never put your prices as low as possible. You are much more likely to score big when competing on quality.
Think how your product is better than the next one. How there is a greater attention to detail with your work, how your years of experience produces better outcomes, how your client communication provides a better solution everytime.
This is how you can compete.
What to do now
Think of all the effects of outsourcing on your business now and double them. That’ll be reality very soon. Think of ways to embrace this new reality and how you can use it to your advantage to provide better products and services for your clients.
Think of what other companies are doing in the East and West in your sector now. What are they doing right, and what are they doing wrong? Sometimes you can stand out from the crowd by providing just a little extra service. Read more about what you can to do get more clients in my book “How To Get Clients”.
I would love to hear what you think about this interesting subject.
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