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 second half of the 1st Stage which was themed ‘Customer Success.’ (You can read about the first half here) In the second half Keisuke Matsuo, Sansan Inc. gave his presentation and our host Hideki Ojima, Parallel Marketer, Evangelist, held a panel discussion with our 3 speakers.
In order to climb the ladder of growth, you must clearly define your value.
Our last speaker of the 1st stage was Keisuke Mastuo who works in the Marketing Department and Brand Communication Department at Sansan Inc. We asked our speakers of the 1st Stage ‘how is your company succeeding on the three levels of marketing: creating the market, creating business, and rapidly expanding your business?’ We heard about rapid growth marketing in Mr. Matsuo’s presentation.
Keisuke Matsuo’s Profile
In 2014, Mr. Matsuo entered into the prospective sales department at Sansan Inc, which provides a business card cloud management service. Currently he works in the marketing and brand communication departments, where he is in charge of planning their large business conference, Sansan Innovation Project, which sees over 5,000 attendees. He has over seen the success of the past two events.
Sansan is a business card cloud management service. The users are businesspeople, so they have clear understanding of the ‘who’ (target customer). Mr. Matsuo explained that “the who and what are two sides of the same coin, but the ‘what’ almost always of becomes clear first.”
But even if the product or service you provide is clear, but this does not mean the value it provides isn’t clear and it will change over time. Mr. Matsuo explained “in other words, in the history of our marketing we have redefined the value of the product according to the business phase that we were in.”
Established in 2007, their brand recognition rapidly began to rise in 2013 with a TV commercial that starred actor Yutaka Matsushige. At that time there were about 1,000 companies using Sansan’s service and it appeared that they reached the peak of their digital and offline promotion. That’s when they redefined their value (the what). Sansan changed its product concept to ‘business card management that strengthens sales’ and the customer (the who) became salespeople. They used TV commercials to convey their message to the customer (the how). It resulted in the number of inquiries and sales to be multiple times larger than the previous year.
The next big change came in 2016. This was also the first year of their large conference, the ‘Sansan Innovation Project.’ At that time there were about 4,000 companies using their service. It was also the same time that ‘workstyle reform’ became a very hot topic in Japan. Sansan redefined their value again. The who became ‘innovators promoting workstyle reform’ and the what became ‘making business cards an asset to the company.’
What: business card management that strengthens sales
How: TV commercial
Who: innovators promoting workstyle reform
What: making business cards an asset to the company
How: large business conference
They aimed to open new channels and convey their new message through a large business conference, which they had not done before.
Mr. Matsuo told the crowd “The participants at events are ones that cannot be reached by TV commercials and digital promotions. And they free choose to participate in the event, so they have a high desire to learn more. We wanted to reach those people.” Mr. Matsuo leads the ‘Sansan Innovation Project’ and oversees the planning and management. Through the conference they have been able to gain over 20,000 leads, a successful 150~200% ROI.
From 2018 they began to strengthen their community marketing. Currently they have around 6,000 active contracts and are aiming to expand their single cloud service to an entire platform.
The target of this community marketing is not prospective customers but current users and the value they are providing is ‘business that starts from business card management.’ They are now shifting from mass marketing to current user targeting marketing in order to provide a new value to their current customers.
In addition to reducing the work required for customer support and onboarding, the community also increases the utilization of our service and the number of referrals to new customers. In particular there is the rate of contract terminations which greatly affects the cloud service business. Mr. Mastuo explained “currently we have a monthly contract termination rate of 0.66%. So, most of our customers are continuing to use our service. By strengthening our user community, we want to create an environment where it is the norm to use Sansan.”
Mr. Matsuo’s Message:
“If you want to promote the rapid growth of your company, you first need to define what value (the what) you want to provide and what world view do you want to convey to the customer with that. Then you need to convey that to the customer with a simple message. If you too narrowly define the ‘who’ then you will lose business opportunities. And it is ok to imitate other companies for the ‘how,’ but is important to think about why you are using that method. If you are doing that, then originality should naturally come out.”
Don’t get caught up in the short term. As a marketer you need to think about the long term.
At the end of our 1st stage, our three speakers, Mr. Matsumura (Sora), Mr. Mutaguchi (IKEUCHI ORGANIC), and Mr. Mastuo (Sansan), and our host, Mr. Ojima, held a panel discussion and Q&A session.
Mr. Ojima wanted to work in marketing from the time he was a student, a time when marketing had not yet taken root in Japanese companies. He has been a driving force of growth the Japanese marketing world. He explained ‘I became involved in marketing when it was still just seen as secondary to sales and a support division. I really think marketing is an interesting field.’
Mr. Matsuo is in the business of building new markets. He told the audience “I like marketing and I think of myself as a marketer. At my past job my superiors told me ‘don’t become a marketer who only looks at the number’ and I have kept that advice close to my chest ever since. I never knew that I wanted to be a marketer, but I really like thinking of new ideas, so it really suits me.” While their reasons for becoming a marketer vary, the y all seen the importance of clarifying who their customer is and then provide them with the greatest possible value.
The keyword that was in all of the presentations was customer success. “Customer success is really important for marketing and building a community, because if you do not have any ‘fans’ then you won’t have a community.” (Mr. Ojima)
While Mr. Matsumura is the CEO of Sora, there was a time when he was apart of a customer success division. “At Sora, we often say ‘for customer success’ and we put a lot of effort into it. Our sales and new customers mostly come from current customer referrals.” (Mr. Matsumura)
While strongly agreeing with Mr. Matsumura, Mr. Ojima told the audience ‘In the Saas business it is important to drive down the churn rate. In order to do that you need to listen to the customers who are successfully using your service or product.’
Mr. Ojima explained “customer success and community marketing are two devices that cannot be separated.” Using the above image, he explained it is easy to understand using a marketing funnel.
“Even if you are talking with people from other departments, by using the marketing funnel you can easily explain your vision. And it is easy to point out where in the funnel you are currently at and what you want to do with them together. The end goal is to increase the size of the bottom section of the pyramid (Cross/Up Sell). In order to do that, the customer needs to succeed and praise your product. In other words, customer success is important and it is important to create platforms, such as a customer community or owned media, for you to convey your value to the next person.” (Mr. Ojima)
“It’s a diagram where the goal is not set to just end at ‘acquisitions’ but is a cycle instead. Current customer →customer success→customer brings next fan→new customer, and the cycle repeats over and over. The product also improves under this cycle.” (Mr. Matsumura)
The panel then began to discuss KPIs and sale numbers as the goal. “if you set your end goal only as short term KPIs or sales, then the improvement in your performance will decrease. It is important to think about what value you want to provide in the long term.” (Mr. Matsuo) For example if you use marketing methods such as TV commercials for only a short span to raise sales, “it is not a very effective strategy” (Mr. Matsuo). But “if you want to convey your company’s values and vision, then mass marketing can be very effective. But the results cannot be measured by short term KPIs. (Mr. Matsumura). “it is important to communicate with the customer through owned media and mass marketing” (Mr. Mutaguchi).
Our audience asked the panel things like ‘how you convince you superiors to let you change things because of feelings?’ and ‘I have changed industries as a marketer but how do you use the who, what, and how framework to give compelling explanations?’ “If you are using feelings, the first thing you need to do is set a common goal with the other party. And then explain how your role contribute to the success of that goal” (Mr. Ojima). “You have to discuss as much as possible through interpersonal communication and search for solutions” (Mr. Mutaguchi).
At the end of our 1st stage, Mr. Ojima left the audience with this message: “I don’t want you to leave today just thinking ‘I’m glad I listened to that.’ I hope this becomes a trigger to start changing your situation for the better starting from tomorrow.”