Bigbeat Live Speaker Interview #2
en world, Asahi Katayama
On August 2nd, 2019 we will host our B2B marketing event, Bigbeat LIVE.
We are proud to say that we have marketers who have found the marketing path they want to follow after participating in the past 2 Bigbeat LIVE events. One of those marketers is Asahi Katayama, Customer Success Specialist, en world Japan K.K. Mr. Katayama joined the enabling success at en world after joining the company. He told us when he joined the marketing team, he had very little marketing experience and entered the recruiting company after working at a cellphone reseller. And the marketing division was in a fractured state. Bigbeat’s director of marketing Mizuki Nogita was able to ask Mr. Katayama for his advice to the troubled marketer.
A fascination with marketing that has the power to change sales numbers
Asahi Katayama, Customer Success Specialist, en world Japan K.K. (At last years Bigbeat LIVE in Kioi Conference)
Nogita (N): Could you tell me what initially made you interested in marketing?
Katayama (K): At my last job I was in sales and a cellphone reseller, but I wasn’t interested in 1 on 1 sales but on marketing which can directly affect the entire sales numbers. I was pretty good at sales but if you got away from it and went to the management side of things you would see that other stores were selling the same products and services through the same process, but the sales number would be astonishingly different to our store.
When I did more research, I found out that the different stores were developing services rooted in the community. For example, some stores were promoting the visits of parents with small children. After seeing that I understood ‘this is marketing’ and my interest was born.
N: And from their you entered en world Japan?
K: Yes. When I was looking for a new job, I decided that I wanted to work in an industry that sells services and not material products. During that time I wanted to look at a wide variety of companies so I registered with a recruiter agent.
But I felt like the recruiters were treating me like a product to be sold to the company. It didn’t leave me with a good impression of recruitment companies. It was during that time that I was introduced to en world Japan. When I heard their mission, ‘enabling success’ my opinion of recruitment companies changed.
In the world of recruitment, the end goal is often thought to be finding the job seeker a new job. But I think most people feel that their journey towards their goal starts after they start their new job. But the business model of recruitment companies has the cash point at when the customer is recruited. It is really difficult to invest in the after-follow where they don’t see any way to sell anything.
But at en world, we are promoting the idea of ‘thoroughly following success after placement.’ I agreed with this vision and wanted to enter the marketing department to spread this idea. That was in the September of 2017.
No Boss, No colleagues, Only marketing
N: After starting at en world, it seems that you had to go through a lot of trial and error. It was the first time a recruitment company was doing actual marketing. It must not be an easy job.
K: I understood after I entered the company, but the marketing department was very fractured. Marketing wasn’t emphasized as important.
The reason for this was because en world Japan used to be a foreign owned company called Wall Street Associates. And their referrals were very strong (meaning that en world’s registered users or client companies would refer job seekers to them). They were able to succeed with just an emphasis on their sales. The main method of marketing was to gather job seekers through mass marketing strategies. But because our referrals were so strong there wasn’t a big need for that, and marketing didn’t play a big role.
But some people in the company worried that the company couldn’t move forward with just referrals. They were people who believed they needed to invest in the marketing and gather job seekers through other means. That is when I entered the company. I didn’t have any experience in the marketing world, and I had no superiors or colleagues to teach me. The only way to learn was through trial and error.
Starting from zero, the 3 things I continued doing because I was inexperienced.
N: I’m sure you continued your , since you were inexperienced how did you position yourself for marketintrial and error, when the marketing department was in mostly in a bad shape, what was your mission?
K: I think I made my first mission to give NPS (Net Promotion Score) surveys out, give our job seekers surveys after 6 months and 1 year after they were placed, and to hold events for our corporate clients. I wasn’t able to do real practical marketing.
From there I thought hard about what to do. So, I started making a system to share information on internal events and on other things happening within the company. And in order start to understand my company and the recruitment industry better, I gave myself 3 things to continue doing as a KPI.
I will go into more details on it during Bigbeat LIVE, but in a few words the three things are ‘creating a network inside the company,’ ‘self-branding’ and ‘get familiar with outside measurements.’ The easiest to understand is the ‘creating a network inside the company.’ For this, I challenged myself to always invite someone in the company out to lunch every day. I made that my mission for 1 year.
In order to start networking at en world, I made my first target the sales department. At the right timing I invited someone out to lunch. He was a junior in the company, so it was someone easy to approach (Laughs). From there I exchanged information and learned so much about the industry and widened my personal connections. It’s been really useful.
For the second thing, I didn’t intend to focus on self-branding at first. But, in order to better to my job I study English everyday very early in the morning. This fact spread around the company and people would come up to me to talk about it and it had a positive effect on my networking.
For the third thing, ‘get familiar with outside measurements,’ I started participating in a variety of outside events and meeting people from outside of the company. When I would read something in a marketing book that I just couldn’t quite understand, I would find a seminar I was interested in, and go learn about those things. Bigbeat LIVE became the trigger for this.
N: At that time, what things were troubling you? What did you expect from Bigbeat LIVE?
K: Bigbeat LIVE is a B2B focused marketing event but the recruitment industry is not a purely B2B or B2C industry. It also makes it hard to find a standard marketing. But the event looking interesting and I thought I could gain something from it.
Early I mentioned that mass marketing is the main tool recruitment companies use for marketing. But I personally feel that it isn’t the best method. Even if you listen to a salesperson talk about it, it still doesn’t feel right.
Even for an amateur like myself it is easy to understand the trend of going from mass to digital marketing. But even then, gaining customers (job seekers) from digital marketing is still not quite right. There isn’t a large group of people in the level my company targets (mid-career, management, executives, and specialists). It’s not about fighting with volume. I really think that it is not about using money to gather many people. I was having trouble finding the solution to this problem, so I came to Bigbeat LIVE looking for a hint.
N: How did you find Bigbeat LIVE when you actually went?
K: There was lots of challenging material that I found hard to understand at first, but I found all of the different speakers really unique and it pushed me to start doing something to change my situation from the next day.
After that, Bigbeat’s smaller seminars, Nama Okyaku (Live Customer), started, and it was there that I found ‘customer success.’ When I heard about that idea I immediately thought ‘this is it!’ I knew that I wanted to start doing something like Nama Okyaku and other things involving customer success.
N: Customer success really matches en world Japan’s mission.
K: I really think so too. I also think it would be great to start applying customer success to ‘enabling success.’
Giving an English presentation to the CEO
N: What did you so from there?
K: At that time, the person most familiar with digital marketing was my superior and boss in the marketing department. We were considering introducing MA tools into our marketing at the time and he taught me a lot about digital market. But I still felt that this wasn’t the best marketing tool for en world. So I gave a presentation to the CEO titled ‘Lets make a customer success team’
N: That’s amazing.
K: I kept thinking to myself if this doesn’t work, I’ll have to quit. (laughs) The CEO of en world is a foreigner, so before I gave my presentation, I practiced and practiced during online English conversation classes. I was really able to shape the presentation and tell a story. But when I gave the presentation the CEO said ‘This is all good so please just cut to the point’ and my mind went blank. (Laughs)
N: (Laughs) How did the CEO respond after you gave the presentation?
K: He was incredibly nice. And he was really moved by how passionate I was about the company’s mission.
The next day I gave the same proposal to the director of marketing and vice president of the company and the vice president really supported me. The ‘enabling success team’ was established and started in the April of 2019.
People in the company would said, ‘I thought Katayama wanted to do marketing, but what happened?’ But I feel that the approach of marketing and customer success is the only difference. The goal of helping the job seeker to succeed is still the same. Although it may have a different structure than marketing, I would like to create a pool of job seekers from contacts that have already been placed.
Increasing focus on the enabling success Team inhouse.
N: What are your plans from now?
K: I am in charge of NPS surveys and after placement surveys. I want to collaborate with the other departments and raise interest in the data I’ve collected. If we are receiving a low score on certain things, I want to work with the training department to raise those skills within the company and incorporate them into personal evaluations.
If we can do this, then we will be able to provide the customer with a continually good experience. That good experience will lead to referrals and the reputation of the company will rise. It will also separate us from our competition and become good armor against them. This will of course lead to more success.
N: I’m excited for your presentation. Could you give some final remarks to those who will attend Bigbeat LIVE?
K: Bigbeat LIVE is the place where I changed for the better. So, for those who have an interest in marketing or are troubled in some way regarding marketing, ‘please come’ is what I would say to them.
I am no marketing veteran, and there will be a lot of people who are more knowledgeable and have more experience than me at the event. And there are things that I won’t be able to convey, but I will be happy if I am able to give a useful suggestion to someone who is troubled and looking for a solution.
N: Thank you for today! I am looking forward to your presentation Mr. Katayama.