We held our B2B marketing event, Bigbeat LIVE, on August 2nd. The theme of our 3rd private marketing event hosted by an advertising and marketing agency was ‘Go for it!’ and marketers from all over Japan gathered in Tokyo for the event.
This blog is a report on the 1st Stage, ‘Creating Customer Success,’ which was hosted by Hideki Ojima, Parallel Marketer, Evangelist. For the first half of the 1st Stage we heard from Mr. Ojima, and presentations from Daiki Mastumura, SORA, Inc, and Takeshi Mutaguchi, IKEUCHI ORGANIC Inc.
You have to think about the Who, What, and How in that order.
At the opening of our 3rd annual Bigbeat LIVE our CEO Yutaka Hamaguchi and Marketing Manager Mizuki Nogita, who was responsible for the theming, and planning of the event, greeted the audience. From there we moved onto our 1st Stage and Mr. Ojima took the stage.
Hideki Ojima’s Profile:
Mr. Ojima worked at AWS (Amazon Web Services) where he created the largest cloud community, JAWS-UG (Japan AWS User Group), In Japan. Currently he is supporting the marketing activities of various companies at Parallel Marketer.
‘Parallel Marketer’ is a marketer who supports and gives advice to various companies, speaks at events, and does a variety of marketing activities. This is what Mr. Ojima said in his book Community Marketing (2019) which was published in March of this year.
Mr. Ojima says that ‘Marketing is like a romantic relationship.’ This is because in a relationship if you don’t decide who you want the other person to be then you can’t move forward in a relationship. Mr. Ojima has found many cases where he asks asked a company who their target customer is, and they cannot give a clear answer.
“Marketing is about matching the Who, What, and How A lot of companies do not have clear answers for these 3 questions and there are many cases where everyone starts from the how and not from who. By doing this people tend to become one track minded. For example, they think ‘it is all about the number of people we reach’ or ‘we just need advertisements’ or ‘we just need a measurable KPI.” (Hideki Ojima)
So, what are companies who are the forefront of marketing doing to define these 3 points. At our 1st Stage we asked our three speakers, ‘how Is your company succeeding on the three levels of marketing: creating the market, creating business, and rapidly expanding your business.’
‘Why’ is essential when creating a market.
Our first speaker was Daiki Mastumura who is the CEO of Sora Inc. a company that provides support to hotels with their Magic Price Service, which helps hotels maximize their profits through price setting, and advocates the use of ‘PriceTech.’
Daiki Mastumura’s Profile:
After graduating college, Mr. Mastumura entered in Yahoo where he worked in their ad Technology division. In 2015 he left his job at Yahoo to establish Sora Inc. While first focusing on airplane ticket sales, they now support hotels by helping them set efficient room prices for the best profits through their product, ‘Magic Price.’ They are currently taking on the challenge of tackling other business domains with the PriceTech field and expanding their hotels services globally.
The ‘saturation era’ is marketing in an era where material things and information are overflowing. It is different from the mass production and mass consumption era. It is an era where more so than ‘expansion,’ the focus is on rediscovering the value of a product or service and using to apply more value onto something. Mr. Mastumura sees the 2 keywords of marketing in this era as ‘Pricing’ and ‘Why.’
By ‘pricing’ he means pricing strategy. In the framework of the 4Ps of marketing, the least focused on P is price. But depending on your pricing strategy, your profits will greatly vary.
‘Why’ conveys the value and significance of your service or product and the reason why the customer should choose it. It is essential that you clearly convey the reason why the customer should choose you and the value you an add to their company.
But what kind of marketing strategy is Sora implementing themselves?
Who: The marketing and corporate planning divisions of all established companies
What: A cloud service that sets the pricing strategy.
How: Convey the significance reason why the service will help the customer.
Using the above three answers as their base, Sora is implementing their own marketing strategy.
The value that this startup company can provide is ‘pricing strategy. In order to convey this through their marketing, Mr. Matsumura created a new category by naming a need that nobody had realized yet, leading to the creation of a new market. That category was ‘PriceTech.’
‘Pricing strategy is a component of business that is necessary in any company. Using that we created a new category of product and used that as our talking point. We appealed to our customers by created the story of why they need PriceTech. It was not the PR of a product or service.’ Daiki Matsumura
Mr. Mastumura explained that ‘creating a new category of products that is not yet in the world is exactly the act of ‘creating customer success.’ As stated in ‘Maslow's hierarchy of needs’, when basic needs such as physiological needs and safety are met, the needs gradually rise to a higher level. By reaching this the level of ‘self-realization’ you are able to convey your significance and value to reach a common understanding. Through this the customer will choose your company’s product.
Because of this, the ‘why’ is an incredibly necessary keyword of marketing.
Mr. Matsumura explained that ‘in order to become a marketing that can convey the ‘why you can’t just be outside-in, you have to be able to explain and define your products value and significance from inside-out. That is one necessary point of becoming a marketer that can create a market that no one has yet realized was possible yet.’
Mr. Matsumura’s Message:
In the case where you are unable to convey the ‘why’ to the customer, then it is most likely that you have not defined the ‘why’ yourself. Why are you working for that company? Why is that product necessary for the world and the customer? Why are you selling that product? Find the ‘why’ within yourself and become an inside-out marketer.
Marketing in tranforming business that is driven by customer communication.
Next, Takeshi Mutaguchi, IKEUCHI ORGANIC Inc., Sales Manager, took the stage. IKEUCHI ORGANIC is an Imabari towel (Japanese Towel) maker.
Takeshi Mutaguchi’s Profile.
Mr. Mutaguchi first entered into a video production company after graduating college. After that he worked in marketing of TSUTAYA’s Culture and Convenience Club and as the Web director at Amazon Japan. After that he started at IKEUCHI ORGANIC Inc. He is currently the sales manager and leads their owned media, Ikeuchi People. He has also been active in the creation and management of their fan community and advertisements.
Mr. Mutaguchi started at IKEUCHI ORGANIC in the July of 2015. He explained ‘we are a company that has a huge passion about the product we are making, but we were not properly portraying that to the customer. That’s when I thought, could I utilize my experience and contribute to the cause of this company? And so, I started working there.’
IKEUCHI ORGANIC is a towel maker that has been established for 66 years. That does not mean, however, that business has been smooth sailing for the entirety of their history. They have gone through many changes. The first was with filing for bankruptcy in 2003, then trying to strengthen the appeal of their value in the BtoC field. And then trying to strengthen their appeal in the BtoB marketplace. Mr. Mutaguchi explained the marketing that takes place in such a changing business.
IKEUCHI ORGANIC was producing brand-licensed towels as an OEM maker until 1999. They had their own original brand towel, but there was no brand awareness and they didn’t sell well.
That original brand, however, would go on to win an international award in 2002. Thanks to that award their brand awareness in Japan rose and they though that sales would raise too. However, in 2003, the company filed for bankruptcy.
When the fans of the company saw the news of their bankruptcy, they flooded IKEUCHI ORGANIC with calls and letters of support. And because of that support, the top of the company was determined to revitalize the company with the end-user of their original brand towels as the ‘who’ (target customer).
As for the specifics of the ‘how’ part, they placed their emphasis on communication with the customer, visits from management in order to continue that communication, and establishing stores in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Fukuoka. They created a place where the customer can freely test their products, including washing the towels, to improve the sales of their towel brand.
Mr. Mutaguchi joined the company in 2015 and began planning the website, ‘Ikeuchi People’ that would convey the philosophy and value of the creators of their towel through interviews. They received a big reaction from their fans. While these fans already understood IKEUCHI ORGANIC’s philosophy and vision, by seeing the face of the people who actually make the towels it humanized them, and they saw high engagement. The distance between the customers and the company began to narrow and they saw visits to their headquarters and factory and participation in their events in Ehime Prefecture at the customer’s own expense.
From 2018 to 2019, the company started to work on its marketing aimed at strengthening their BtoB business, such as OEM and collaborative product development. Their BtoB side is much different from their fans and end-users. There are customers who think ‘as long as its cheap’ and ‘it doesn’t matter as long as it’s an Imabari Towel,’ and there are customers who choose IKEUCHI ORGNAIC because they are IKEUCHI ORGANIC.
Mr. Mutaguchi explained the Who, What, and How of his company.
Who: IKEUCHI ORGANIC fans who have the same values of their vision.
What: A little more happiness and richness every day.
How: Have the fans talk about it in their owned media.
The thought behind the creation of ‘Ikeuchi People’ was to have the editors, writers, photographers, etc. be fans of the company who shared their values. They started creating user case studies made by fans who were actually using IKEUCHI ORGANIC’s products. Users from different industries such as restaurants, public baths, salons, and sports began to connect and communicate through Ikeuchi People. This led to the introduction and sales of our towels to the customer.
Mr. Mutaguchi finished his presentation proclaiming ‘we will work to have a bigger impact in the BtoB field.
Mr. Mutaguchi’s message:
Do not forget that the customer comes before the numbers. The who, what, and how of your company can be found through communication with your customers, partners, employees, and craftspeople. And by expanding that communication you find new ways of communicating.
In our next report, we will talk about the second half of our 1st Stage where Keisuke Matsuo, Sansan, Inc, which controls 80% of the market in the business card cloud management service field. Mr. Matsuo has overseen see the success of 2 ‘Sansan Innovation Project’ conferences. Then we will discuss the panel discussion between our host, Mr. Ojima, and the 3 speakers.