Marketing Japan: Creating a Buzz Requires Credibility….

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

A good friend of mine once said to me, “Credibility is hard to get but even harder to buy.” When I heard this I thought it was simply genius. It’s so absolutely true.

I’ve been recently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book, “Outliers.” In one section at the front of the book, he writes about how kids get into the Canadian Major Junior A Hockey League; the premier league for children and teens hoping to become professional hockey players.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

Gladwell writes:

You can’t buy your way into Major Junior A hockey. It doesn’t matter who your father or mother is, or who your grandfather was, or what business your family is in. Nor does it matter if you live in the most remote corner of the most northerly province in Canada. If you have the ability, the vast network of hockey scouts and talent spotters will find you, and if you are willing to develop that ability, the system will reward  you.

Gladwell then goes on to point out that there’s a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time that goes into being successful… But he also delves deeply into working at success and dedicating time and effort.

I’d like to point out that if a kid gets into Major Junior A hockey in Canada, then that kid gets “status.” With Major Junior A hockey comes credibility. And this credibility is impossible to buy.

It’s the same when you are trying to build a buzz for your product or service… Credibility is crucial. Without credibility, you will never build a long-term lasting success. Quality is crucial to credibility.

I am now working with partners on promoting tourism to a former Eastern Block country in Europe. In some circles, this promotion has been extremely difficult. Why? Because twenty years ago, this country was involved in a civil war and many Japanese people still have the image of war when they think of this nation.

We have to change that image among the Japanese. Maybe you have guessed the name of this country already…. A war 20 years ago in Europe? Yes. It had to be one of the countries in former Yugoslavia. I’m talking specifically about Croatia.

Actually, Croatia is nothing like the image that many Japanese people have; a cold and dreary former Soviet Bloc territory. Croatia has a rich history; formerly part of the Hapsburg Empire; formerly Rome. Croatia’s tourism promotional copy is “The Mediterranean the way it used to be.” Croatia has 7 world heritage sites, glorious architecture, fantastic gourmet (including seafood) and more! See some sites here.

But some Japanese still have the image of war.

Recently, two things have greatly helped us to gain trust and credibility among the Japanese. One has been the push from Japanese travel agents for Japanese tourists to visit Croatia. It really helps to show people the tourism and travel brochures made by reputable Japanese companies like Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) recommending Croatia. I mean, if Croatia weren’t safe, they certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

But the most recent thing that I think will be the watershed moment for Croatia tourism will be this December. From this December, Tokyo FM (TFM) will run a station-wide promotion on air and on the Internet (this will include, of course, SNS, blogs, Twitter, Pick, Mixi and Facebook!) The promotion will be for three lucky couples to win a vacation to Croatia including airfare and hotel….

The hotel stay is at one of the most prestigious hotels in all of Europe! It’s the Regent Esplanade Zagreb. See photos here that will drop your jaw.

The Regent Esplanade Zagreb

There’s not a person in Japan over the age of 18 who hasn’t heard of Tokyo FM. Tokyo FM is the flagship station of a 34 station Japan-wide FM network. Tokyo FM is prestige.

Will Croatia become the huge buzz and “place to be” amongst the Japanese within the next two years? That remains to be seen, but Tokyo FM accepting Croatia as a partner for a big Christmas campaign gives Croatia the respect and credibility Croatia needs. With this credibility in hand, it is the final critical factor needed to build the buzz among the Japanese who like to travel.

Like was pointed out at the top of this blog, “Credibility is hard to get, it is even harder to buy.” Tokyo FM agreeing to partner with Croatia is a key to credibility.

Now, with this credibility, they can get to work on building a buzz.



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