[Bigbeat CEO Column]
For three years now, the theme of our Bigbeat LIVE event has been ‘change management through marketing.’ We have aimed for our event to be a summer festival for B2B marketers where we discuss that theme.
And as the host of this 3 year series of annual events, we do not plan on stopping here, we are facing forward to our next venture.
The focus on ‘workstyle reform’ began in the Fall of 2016. Unfortunately, this was due to a tragic incident at one of the top corporations in our own advertising and marketing industry. But I think many people had already realized the need for change before people started saying ‘workstyle reform.’ People had already started to ask: ‘is this the Japanese way of working ok? Will anything actually get better if we continue working the same way?’
Being able to believe that the future will get better is incredibly important.
In other words, if someone asks, ‘are you happy?’ those who say ‘yes’ are the ones who are hopefully for their future. And the most important element of that is being hopeful for your work life.
Businesspeople in Tokyo and other cities are exhausted from work and the population in other regions are declining. And everyone is losing from it.
Will we be able to leave a better future for our children at this rate? I realized that we have to do something to make a better future. We are a marketing and advertising agency. While we can’t create some world changing product or service, we can create opportunity, we can disseminate information online, and we decided to take action. The job of an advertising agency is to make the atmosphere better.
Our focus became ‘change management through marketing.’
What is management? What is marketing?
Bigbeat Live 2017, We focused on communicating the imporatance of marketing to managment.
It is a mistake to think you can change Japan’s workstyle without changing its management. It can’t be done. In order to change our workstyle, we first have to change our management style. And it shouldn’t be ‘workstyle reform,’ it should ‘management style reform’ which would actually improve the lives of workers.
I believe that we can change our current management style through marketing. This is because marketing is the greatest tool of management.
But we first need to breakdown what management and marketing are at their core. So, I will tell you my interpretation and opinion on the matter.
The Japanese word for management is keiei. The character for kei (経) also means ‘sutra’ when read as kyou. The word originated from india and is used to describe the horizontal threads in a woven cloth. Ei (営) means to run a business.
So, using a woven fabric as the representation of an organization, kei can be visualized as the horizontal threads and ei is the vertical threads the cloth.
Things that are important to the company, such as its mission and vision, the reason it was started and its goals are the threads of kei. And management is the vertical threads of ei. The skillfulness of the weave is then the company’s culture. If management is the weaver of the cloth, then new products and services will be born from their created culture.
The more people (customers, partners, shareholders, and employees) who support the company culture, the more a company can grow and prosper. I believe that management is about creating a company culture that can continually increase the number of supporters it has.
There are a wide varieties of marketing functions and specialist that can be defined. And within every company that has a marketing department, there are a variety of roles and titles within the department.
I believe that marketing is the greatest tool of management. But what kind of tool is it? It the tool of ‘being chosen.’ Mainly being chosen by the customer. But it is not only limited to this. It is also being chosen by partners, shareholders, recruits, and society. It is the tool used to be chosen by anyone involved with the company. And of course, most importantly being chosen by its employees.
You create customers who choose you in a market. In other words, you create a marketplace. It’s important to clearly define, ‘who’ will choose you. ‘What’ they will choose. ‘where’ they are able to choose you? And ‘how’ they will choose you. The actual implementation of this work is marketing.
If you utilize marketing, then you can hugely increase work efficiency within your company. For example, there is a tendency for the sales department at advertising agencies to make 100 cold calls a day in order to make appointments with potential customers. This would go away with marketing.
Communicating the company culture woven by management.
Bigbeat LIVE 2018. We had 12 speakers and started our own community marketing program: Okyaku
In general, how do you utilize marketing as a tool? Although may seem obvious, one important element is utilizing digital activities. Japan is much further behind the rest of the world when it comes to utilization of digital platforms. But even in Japan, it has become a world where you can not do anything if you don’t have a digital presence. Telling this to marketers is like preaching to a buddha. But its important to collect and use accurate data to your advantage.
It is the age of digital information, where the world is overflowing with information, opinions, and data. For this reason, it is important to publish things that have a feeling of passion and care in them. You won’t be able to move people with contents that doesn’t have the same feeling as real life. Digital is not analog and is active and alive.
The next way to utilize marketing to change management is the use of storytelling. I have seen many cases of Japanese B2B companies not utilizing marketing. But it is the job of marketing to strategically plan and execute stories that are interesting to hear and apart of the woven corporate culture by management.
We as an advertising and marketing want to help companies with that story telling.
It is like a movie. The 2-hour full length movie is management while marketing is the 30 second sneak peek preview or the poster hanging in the theater. In other words, it is the tool you use to get people to watch your movie or in the case of a company choose you.
At Bigbeat our corporate slogan is ‘behind every business there is a story’ and the above sentiment is encapsulated into that slogan. The mission of any advertising agency should be to communicate the story of their clients and convey their passion and goals.
Turning to the second chapter of Bigbeat LIVE.
We have had over 40 people as speakers in the 3 years of Bigbeat LIVE and over 1,200 attendees. This year we had over 80 people who received outside support from.
Bigbeat LIVE has become the trigger for people to make change at their companies.
・ There has been a manager who have established a marketing department in their company.
・ There was an executive officer of the sales department who went to his CEO to discuss marketing and became the CMO. After that he went on to establish his own company.
・ We heard from someone who incorporated marketing into medical education.
・ And we had attendees who went on to become speakers at this year’s event.
We heard stories like this from a variety of people who attended Bigbeat LIVE.
We have been saying ‘lets change management through marketing and make a better future’ and we have seen results in these 3 years.
People ask me ‘But what about Bigbeat? Hamaguchi are you changing management through marketing and making a better future for everyone?’ It’s an important question. And as the CEO I am trying my best to follow my own message.
For example, in these 3 years we have focused on raising profits and reducing overtime hours rather than just raising gross sales. We have succeeded in doing so too. But the most important thing is if we are able to implement our vision and if we are moving towards becoming the company we want to be.
1. Are you truly thinking about how to help you customers succeed and proposing plans that will profit them? (Customer Success)
2. In order to achieve the above, is your organization flexible and willing to change? (Change Management)
3. Are you taking the responsibility for educating yourself and outputting your own information? (Creating a new self)
The three themes of the main sessions at Bigbeat LIVE this year were ‘Customer Success,’ ‘Changing the company through compassion,’ and ‘Establishing the core role of a marketer.’ These themes not only focused on the changing others and the company, but also thinking for yourself and taking action from today.
At Bigbeat, what have emphasized the importance of ‘changing management through marketing’ for these years and now we are ready to move on to the next stage.
We are ready to turn to the second chapter.