Sansan, Inc. Sansan Division, Marketing department /Brand Communication department, Keisuke Matsuo
Bigbeat LIVE Speaker Interview #7
Sansan, Inc. Keisuke Mastuo
Sansan, inc. holds a large business conference known as ‘Sansan Innovation Project’ where over 5000 people gather. We were able to ask Keisuke Matsuo, Sansan Division, Marketing Department/Brand Communication Department, about the large event which has succeeded 2 years in a row now. We also asked the ‘110% man, known by this because he is said to produce 110% results in anything he does, about his approach to work.
Our own head of the Marketing Department, Mizuki Nogita interviewed Matsuo, who is a speaker at our Bigbeat LIVE event on August 2.
Innovation is born after new encounters
Nogita (N): The mission at Sansan is to ‘birth innovation through new encounters’ but what does this mean?
Matsuo (M): In history, big changes were brought about to the world because somebody met somebody, and innovation was born from their relationship. Terada (Sansan CEO Chika Terada) always brings up the example of The Beatles. He says ‘The Beatles were only able to form a world-famous rock band and write all of their innovative songs because they met each other. And if you try to understand history, then you see that it is that jewel of innovation is hiding behind new encounters between people. If you put it in other words, then the world is moving by people meeting new people.
In business the image of two new people encountering each other is the exchange of their business cards. The role of Sansan is to expand the chance of innovation hiding in the background through digitalizing and sharing the encounter with others. It is about making sure that the encounter doesn’t end with the first time two people meet, but nurture that encounter and stimulate innovation.
N: You want to emphasize the importance of the jewel that new encounters that are brought about by exchanging business cards.
M: That’s right. No matter the scale of the organization, there are always encounters that you overlook or forget about. If 2 people do not talk then it is hard for them to grasp how they are connected. But with ‘Sansan’ you can follow the connections you have with someone and you can be innovative more easily. I want Sansan to become the greatest radar device to find the jewel of innovation.
N: Many ‘encounters’ are still offline. I think it is also very difficult to make new encounters if someone does not seek to go out and meet new people.
M: Yes. I think it is better to have someone who is actively going out and meeting new people. But the great thing about Sansan is that for people like me who are not good at offline interaction, you can still look at the connections between people. Sansan is not something that solely encourages going outside and meeting new people, but instead enables the expansion of the diplomatic person’s networks and always people to search for connections in that person’s network.
N: So, you are creating value through ‘new encounters’ by fusing offline and digital together. Now, could you tell us about the role of marketing at Sansan.
M: We have about 40 people in the marketing department. They have split us into a variety of groups such as online advertising, content creation, event planning for seminars, exhibitions, and the Sansan Innovation Project, which I am involved in. The groups are divided up by each of their methods and accelerate the development of Sansan Inc. through branding and expanding sales by gathering new leads. That is the role of the Marketing Department at Sansan.
Marketing that adds to the benefit and profit of the customer
N: What are the characteristics of Sansan’s marketing? What are you conscious of in your marketing?
M: Its not just the promotion of a simple product. We are strongly aware of the benefit and profit that ‘Sansan’ can provide to our customers. Even if you create contents based around the latest things in the market such as the digital transformation or workstyle reform, we have to talk about how Sansan is contributing to those things. We are creating content based on a persona of the people we want to make happy. We are creating content while perusing that persona.
N: What kind of persona have you set as the target?
M: We have really racked our brain on what the targeted persona should be. Especially since our business card management system, ‘Sansan,’ is not designed for a specific industry or type of business, we can’t narrow the target down too much. Because of that, when creating the content, we only decide the industry and size of the company the content will be targeted at. After that, depending on the role and strategy of the content, we can narrow it down more depending on targeted employee level.
We are currently progressing towards a user event at the end of October. This is the only event that we have pinned down the target to individual people that we are creating content for. That is because our theory is that if our ‘royal users’ as we call them are happy, then this will spread to our other users who will in turn become ‘royal users.’
N: I bet it took courage to take that step?
M: It did. Up until now there hasn’t been any marketing strategies targeted at individual people. At first, we were thinking people who were in their 30s to 40s, in this industry, and were the managers of the Sansan service at their company. But just with that information we had no idea what content would make them happy. I thought there would be no way we could do a user event at that rate. So, we decided to pick-up individuals and listen to their opinions on things like ‘What opportunities do you feel are coming from ‘Sansan’? ‘Is there something you want us to do?’ We decided on doing a type of event where that was possible.
N: What kind of person is a ‘royal user?’
M: A ‘royal user’ is not just somebody who is using Sansan for business card management but is successfully using Sansan together with things like SFA and MA. If you are just collecting a lot of business cards, then you are not really widening the scope of the product. ‘Royal users’ are combining our service with something and birthing innovation. That is the position from which we are choosing the ‘royal users.’
N: In what way are you creating the ‘Sansan Innovation Project?’ I think it probably plays a different role from your user events.
M: We want people to feel the different innovation that is going on around the world. We want the attendees to go home having gathered knowledge and experiences. That is my vision as the event production manager. But as a company, we want the event to get us new users and increase the LTV of our current users. These are very roles the event plays. The goal is branding and expanding our sales.
Just as the name ‘Sansan Innovation Project’ implies, we believe we are a company that is bringing about innovation. We want to find people are creating innovation or have the potential to create it around the world and give them the power to act by themselves. There is also the possibility that two people will meet in an offline setting and it will lead to something good. It is only natural that Sansan would want to do something like that.
I want to do my job in my own way.
N: You were originally in the Sales Department correct?
M: I was in sales that involved the training of engineers.
N: Why did you originally choose that work?
M: To be honest, I didn’t really have a reason. I wanted to be a movie director. But during my job hunting I failed all the interviews for creative companies and TV stations. I had made it to a good place by accident and I wasn’t very good at much. When I realized this, I decided to extend my job-hunting to the next year, and the year after that. Finally, after 3 years, I realized it wasn’t going to work out. I decided to apply to different companies, and I applied to places still accepting applications and, in a week, I got an offer.
N: Have you given up on being a movie director?
M: I have. I think I couldn’t do it because I wasn’t prepared to enter an organization. During one final interview with a famous producer I said something along the lines of ‘You are welcome to use my draft’ and handed over a proposal. But when I think about it now, no company wants some cheap person like that. I mean if you can hand in a proposal that will make them think you are amazing, then they should take you. But I failed the interview, so I must’ve not had the ability. So, I gave up.
N: Has your attitude change at all since that time?
Bigbeat, Marketing Team, Director, Mizuki Nogita
M: No, I still have the same attitude, I think. It probably sounds like I am showing off when I say something like ‘I hate doing the same thing as other people.’ But I really can’t be satisfied with myself if I do things the same way as other people. Of course, I will use what other people have done as a benchmark. But I want to add my own essence into whatever I do. If it doesn’t feel like ‘my’ work, then I won’t be satisfied. That hasn’t changed since that time.
N: With that in mind, what has been the position you want at Sansan?
M: There hasn’t really been a certain position that I want. During my time at Sansan, I haven’t once said, ‘I want this position.’ I was in sales and they said, ‘do you want to try inside sales division?’ And I responded with ‘yes!’
After about a year of that they asked me if I wanted to oversee web marketing. And I said ‘yes!’ Web marketing felt out of my experience, but I still tried it. Then they asked me if I wanted to be in charge of the ‘Sansan Innovation Project.’ And I once again said ‘yes!’
But the one thing that I have asked is for them to let me oversee the ‘Sansan Innovation Project’ one more time. When I first took charge of the event, I thought I only wanted to do it once. But I thought about it hard and I wanted them to let me do it one more time. It was the first time I’ve asked for a specific position.
N: What was your reason for this?
M: When we hosted the 2018 event ‘Sansan Innovation Project Workstyle Reform 2020’ I had to imitate a lot of things from the previous owner of the event and I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt that I could have done more. And as for the results I felt like I wanted to do an event that can really create profit for the company. I wasn’t satisfied with myself.
N: Were you moving to different positions because you were able to produce the result you wanted?
M: I don’t think I have always done things the right way and there have been things I have been unhappy with, but I think it is easy to get a certain type of result. I don’t consider it a compliment, but my superiors have been calling me the ‘110% man’ because I am able to get a little better result than what the goal was. And I think I am good at producing results. I mean if you tell me to produce 150% or 200% of the expected result it would be difficult, but I believe I could probably do 110%. (Laughs). I think people feel like a positive result will be produced if they let me handle it. Although it’s embarrassing to say that myself. (Laughs).
N: Have you ever hit a wall or felt like you couldn’t do the work?
M: I haven’t thought that. I mean it has probably happened, but I don’t think of it as a wall. If I look back on those times, I think there are things that I should improve on, but while I am in the middle of something, I have never really been stopped dead in my tracks. I think I may just be stubborn.
N: For your final comments, could you give a message to the attendees of Bigbeat LIVE?
M: During the event there are going to be a variety of speakers and some of them will be well known marketers. But I don’t want people to just get impressed and try to imitate their way of doing things. I mean, if you imitate Mr. Ueyama you will become a weird middle-aged man. (Laughs). Mr. Ueyama is an amazing middle-aged man because he is Mr. Ueyama.
I think it is important to set benchmarks, but then take action in your own way. That why I don’t want to just the attendees to just think ‘amazing.’ I want the attendees to listen flatly and acknowledge if they feel something is off or wouldn’t work for them. I want people to listen to the presentations and find their own way of doing things.
N: I am looking forward to your presentation at Bigbeat LIVE. Thank you for today!