Respect for business etiquette
The business culture in Japan is very different from that of Western countries. Japanese professionals are very respectful of each other and do not contact strangers directly. Picking up a person’s contact details without their permission is prohibited. This is why companies all have a general email address where they receive communications, which they pass on to the person concerned.
Once the relationship is established, personal details are exchanged in a face-to-face meeting. Using a local intermediary, like Promosalons Japan office, to approach professionals is therefore essential.
To avoid being disregarded, communicate in Japanese
Few Japanese speak English fluently, or even understand or read English. All communications must therefore be translated into Japanese as most Japanese professionals delete emails received in a foreign language. It is therefore important to avoid communicating in English even though it is generally considered as the language of business.
Lobbying – an ace up your sleeve
One of the most effective ways to reach professionals in a given sector is to approach trade associations and institutional bodies such as chambers of commerce or JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization). Lobbying industry associations can save a great deal of time because they make sure the information reaches the right person.
Most associations, in exchange for a fee or invitations to the show, will agree to distribute press releases or put inserts in their promotional media.
Maintaining good relations with the media
In Japan, it is risky to end a media plan abruptly. The absence of advertising in trade or consumer magazines gives the impression that the show is losing its influence. It becomes complicated for the Promosalons office to obtain satisfactory press coverage.
Media spending must be accompanied by a strong, long-term relationship with journalists. Recent experiences of inviting high-level journalists from the financial and trade press to fashion shows in January 2016 (see Focus in Newsletter No. 55), and more recently in Tokyo for a group promotional campaign (see Focus p. 8), demonstrate Promosalons’ ability to maintain a broad network of relationships with influential media.
Because Japanese visitors never travel alone, organising a delegation is the most effective way to convince them to come to a trade show. Being unfamiliar with Western customs, Japanese professionals prefer to talk directly with a compatriot. Having an intermediary at the show to welcome them and provide cultural and linguistic support is essential.
A complementary team
The Japanese Promosalons team is made up of three people: Erika Ida, who has been with Promosalons Japan for ten years, has been managing the Japanese office since July 2014. She oversees the work of Masahiro Kogama, head of sales and promotion for twelve trade shows, and Yukiko Matsuda, who takes care of visitor promotion for eight shows; Yukiko has an excellent knowledge of digital communication and social media.
Everyone on the team is French-speaking and familiar with Japanese and French culture and their respective business etiquettes.