Our 3rd annual B2B marketing event, Bigbeat LIVE, was held on August 2nd, 2019 at Tokyo Midtown Hibaya ‘BASE Q.’ The theme of this year was ‘go for it!’ and we had our bigger and best sessions yet in the 3 years since we started the event. Before the event, our CEO held a panel discussion with the hosts of the 3 main sessions. Those hosts were Hideki Ojima, Takumi Ozawa, and Motohiko Tokuriki.
Bigbeat CEO: Yutaka Hamaguchi
We first thought of the structure of Bigbeat LIVE in the summer of 2016. Bigbeat had reached its 20th year since being established an we were thinking about how our management would change in 3 or 4 years.
I thought really hard about how we should move forward, and I then realized the keyword that is at the center of our business. That word is ‘marketing.’
I think marketing is ‘being chosen.’ Being chosen by partners, society, and customers. And marketing is also growing that ability to be chosen. It is the greatest function of management.
Japanese B2B companies have really amazing techniques and products but, unfortunately, they have not focused on the ability of ‘being chosen.’ So, I wanted to create a place where we could gather people and talk about ‘how to be chosen = the function of marketing.’ That place became Bigbeat LIVE.
And we came up with a 3-year plan for Bigbeat Live. The message of the first Bigbeat LIVE was about ‘changing management through marketing’ and was targeted towards the management level to think together about what things you need to do to be chosen. At last years event, the second Bigbeat LIVE, the message was still ‘changing management through marketing’ but was targeted at those who still didn’t quite understand it. But we also applied the keyword of ‘struggle’ into the event and we heard stories from our speakers about the marketing they were currently going through and the issues they were facing.
The message of our third Bigbeat LIVE was ‘go for it!’ We are trying to say ‘take action now! It’s ok, go for it!’ I wanted a lot of different people to come to Bigbeat LIVE and not just marketers and have them use the event to take the first step towards making changes in their jobs.
This third year will be the last time we hold ‘Bigbeat LIVE’ in its current format. So, we gathered the three hosts of our main sessions to discuss how we should conclude ‘Bigbeat LIVE.’
Host: Parallel Marketer, Evangelist, Hideki Ojima
Ojima worked at Adobe from 2009 to 2016. He was at the forefront of Japanese marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He established the CMC_Meetup (Community Marketing Community) in 2016. From 2017 he has been helping IT corporations both in and outside of Japan as a marketing evangelist at Parallel.
2nd Stage: Changing the company through empathy
Host: Adobe Systems Co., Ltd, Director of Professional Services, Takumi Ozawa
Ozawa started playing violin at the age of 3 and went to Musashino Academia Musicae but transferred to Berklee College of Music. In 2003 he graduated from Berkley’s graduate school. After returning to Japan he became involved in the production of film music and worked as a sound designer. But after learning about family issues, he entered into a venture capital company, where he began to get heavily involved in marketing.
3rd Stage: Establishing the core role of a marketer.
Host: Agile Media Network Inc., Ambassador/Blogger, Mr. Motohiko Tokuriki.
Mr. Tokuriki has experience working for NTT and an IT consulting firm. He has been at Agile Media Network since its establishment where he is a blogger. He has held the positions of CEO and CMO, but is now a Blogger Ambassador where is enlightening companies on the use social media for business.
At the same time, he works at Piece of Cake Co. as a note producer. He supports businesspeople and companies on how to use blogs and social media. He also writes he own column in Nikkei MJ and Yahoo! News and even has his own books, Corporate Strategy of Customer’s Perspective and Alpha Blogger.
Hamaguchi: It’s been 2 years since we held our first Bigbeat LIVE. And I want to ask everyone about those years. In what ways has your companies, personal base, and the work environment around you changed?
Ojima: This more about my own surroundings, but I feel like there are more people whose work life and private life are one thing and not separate. I think that you could say that more people cannot separate the two, but I don’t mean like ‘black corporations’ (In Japan a black corporation is one that overworks and mistreats its employees.) I mean people whose work lives and private lives are closely connected together. And I think those people have a certain kind of ‘immersive force.’
In the business scene I think this kind of immersive attitude is something that companies in any industry want. I don’t think it is simple becoming good at something just because you like it, but because their work becomes apart of them, they want to maximize the situation. Because they see it is as a part of themself, they get immersed in the work. That’s why you could say there are more people ‘who cannot separate’ their private and work lives.
Ozawa: That reminds of two things. When you combine work and vacation, you call it a ‘workation’ and when you combine business with leisure you call it ‘bleisure.’ I that management in corporations have begun to allow change that has brought the advent of these words in Japan. The reason for this is that it has become an era where the marketplace and the customer will not understand each other just through work.
There has been an increase in businesses that think ‘only selling a product won’t work, we need to switch to subscriptions.’ And so, they start subscription services. But this method alone won’t just sell things. They need to have a mutual understanding with the customer. In other words, they need to think about the customer experience. And if they are going to think about the customer experience, they need to better the employee experience. So, I think that people’s ‘work and lifestyle’ and becoming more closely connected.
Hamaguchi: Could I ask your opinion Mr. Tokuriki?
Tokuriki: I’m a little bit pessimistic. (Laughs). If you think about the past 10 years, then there is no doubt that the business environment has gone through huge changes. I think that individual employees in companies are getting themselves out there more. There are more people using blogs and social media for business purposes.
But in the case of Japan, there are still a lot of people who have no issues with their companies. And because of that I feel that a very big divergence is forming between those people and the people who think the way we work should change with the times. For example, there are still companies that ban the use of social media by their employees. I feel there are still a significant amount of people in Japan who think that even though Heisei was 30 years long and it has become the Reiwa era there is no need to change the way we work.
Hamaguchi: As a host, what kind of thing do you want to do at this event?
Ozawa: When I saw the Facebooks posts from last years Bigbeat LIVE, I thought the event looked really interesting. I have an interest in change management and I have wanted to create a ‘change management society’ so I really want to delve into the subject with the audience.
Hamaguchi: Could you explain a little more on what you mean?
Ozawa: This event really reminds me of a jazz jam session. (Laughs). The song of the jam session is called ‘change management’ and I want to listen to the song with the other speakers who will take the stage. And I want it to motivate the audience. That’s the image I have.
If you are a businessperson, no matter who you are there will be challenges and things you want to change in your company. But there are a lot of people who do not know how to go about making changes.
Personally, I don’t think it is necessary to split things like ‘B2B’ and ‘B2C’ or ‘sales’ and ‘marketing.’ I want to talk about how we you can change the design of your organization or the work process. How do you go about changing yourself? How do you bring about change? It’s a big theme, but I would like to talk about those things.
Hamaguchi: Thank you for sharing. What do you think Mr. Tokuriki?
Tokuriki: As an audience member of last year’s Bigbeat LIVE I listened to Mr. Ojima and Mr. Iimuro’s presentations. They made me think if there were more people who understood marketing, then companies and Japan would change. I want to motivate people to get involved in marketing and start outputting change.
Hamaguchi: I think the first time we talked about it, there was a little bit of confusion too. (Laughs).
Tokuriki: Well I’m not very familiar with the B2B field and there were a lot of other people more qualified around me at the event. But last year I heard of the stories about people trying to change their company through marketing and it really left an impression. I wanted to support those efforts. My first job was at NTT, so I am really interested in how you can change a big corporation. I know that it is an incredibly difficult task, so I want to support those who are trying to do it.
Hamaguchi: You will be hosting the final session, so please do it with energy. (Laughs)
Tokuriki: I want the audience to listen to the speakers and feel a connection with them.
People tend to the think the speakers at these big events are amazing and different from themselves. But I think that is such a waste. Of course, it is difficult to replicate the achievements of these amazing people right away. But if you can start to take action now, then you can eventually start to make those achievement yourself. I want people to realize that and their connection to the speakers. Bigbeat LIVE may come to an end this year, I want there to be people who come to the event and think ‘I want to take be on the stage at the next 3-year event series.
Hamaguchi: Thank you. And lastly, although it’s a little hard to ask. (Laughs). What do you think Mr. Ojima?
Ojima: Well one reason for my participation is because my highschool superior (Hamaguchi) told me to… (Laughs). That and right now the need for B2B marketing is on the rise. And I think the timing is really good for this event.
When I entered into the B2B marketing field a long time ago, that status of marketing was still really low. The name of the marketing department would be ‘sales support department’ or ‘sales promotion department.’ Basically, the sales department was above marketing in status, and marketing was just a supporting department of sales.
But now marketing is become and essential function of business in Japan. I want people to really understand the importance of B2B marketing at this event.
Hamaguchi: You have participated since the second event and from the beginning you said ‘I don’t want people to just say ‘I learned something.’ You wanted them to start taking action.
Ojima: That hasn’t changed. No matter how good the event is, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t lead to action. I want to create a chain where someone acting leads to another person taking action and so on. That has been the same since the beginning.
Nothing will change if people don’t act. Nothing will change with just input, people need to start outputting their own information. And you must show that output. I don’t know how far we will be able to go, but that is what I want to do.
This is the last time Bigbeat LIVE will be done in this format, and there will probably be a different event with the same members. And new ideas will be made, and you will make a new place where marketers can gather. That is the ideal flow for this event.
After the discussion between our 3 host and CEO, we had our ‘Okyaku’ (customer) event. Here we had our speakers who would take the stage gather and talk about how they were going to ensure the event was a success.
For food, we had Katsuo Tataki (a seafood dish made from bonito), which is from our CEO’s hometown in Kouchi Prefecture. Even in Tokyo this dish is hard to find. We also had snacks and food that went well with drinks.
We also had a taste testing for 3 original beers we made. The one that everyone thought was the best went on to become the original beer we had at the 3rd Bigbeat LIVE.
When we first started Bigbeat LIVE people said to me ‘what are you doing hosting an event where you are not selling anything and having free admissions.’ But since we have started this event, I have felt that my own employees want to act with marketing in mind. And the way we work at my company has changed.
Since we have started distributing information about Bigbeat LIVE and our blog, the cases where we are ‘being chosen’ have slowly begun to increase. And our existing clients have told they think what we are doing is interesting.
When I first made the announcement to my employees that we would be doing Bigbeat LIVE, a lot of them even questioned it. But now we have changed our actions and the way we are working.
I hope that people felt that at Bigbeat LIVE. Although Bigbeat LIVE is ending in its current format, we will continue to emphasize marketing as the greatest function of management.
go for it!