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Marketing Planning for Japan

A Guide to Better Marketing Planning for Businesses

There is no doubt that as a digital marketing agency in Tokyo this by far is the most important service offering that we provide here AdVertize. There is no plan, project, or activity that happens here without a solid marketing plan.

The reason for this comes down to one very simple rule we have at AdVertize which is value. Everything we do both for ourselves and for our clients must have a compounding effect.

What’s great about digital is that when done right, it makes it possible to achieve a synergistic effect across all your channels whenever you make any changes in each, impacting one another in a way that can help you reach your business objective.

The Importance of Marketing Planning

Have you ever asked yourself, What is Digital Marketing? Well, you're not alone- and it begins with value. But value, isn’t some buzzword, it’s a reality when it comes to digital marketing these days. Let’s just take a look at the data:

FACT: There are over 100 million active mobile users in Japan.

FACT: Online sales will increase by double digits in the next year.

FACT: However, according to Rakuten, without the right plan, at least 26% of your Advertising is wasted.

So that means, it doesn’t matter how great digital marketing is, how much your consumers love Instagram, Twitter, Google, etc... without a solid marketing plan or being able to understand what are the types of digital marketing there then you’ll never be effective.

Here at AdVertize we’ve put measures in place to ensure that both ourselves and our clients can be successful when it comes to marketing planning for Japan.

Here is our approach, the services we offer clients, the lessons we’ve learned, and how together we can both be effective at approaching marketing planning for Japan and beyond.

Steps In the Marketing Planning Process

To be effective at marketing planning you have to come to an understanding that there is no “win-all” template that will help you succeed, as there are many ways to make a great dish or meal.

For example, let’s say you want to sell a scooter to a young millennial in Japan. Do you approach them face to face for the sale, post on social media hoping to get their attention, target them online urging them to click, or do all of the above?

The answer is yes, no, and yes again. Meaning, there is no right or wrong way, there is only the most effective way based on the budget you have to spend to accomplish your goal and that’s why marketing planning is so important, it takes the 1 billion permutation of activities that can be approached to getting one person to buying a product and turns them into a series of simple steps that help you save money, keeps your business afloat, and also make your customers happy - which at the end of the day is the most important thing.

At AdVertize we usually approach marketing planning through a series of steps that include the following:

In this section, we're going to cover the marketing planning services provided by marketing agency AdVertize and how your brand can win as a result, here they area:


Step 1: 4 P's of Marketing Planning

Step 2: Buyer Persona Development

Step 3: Content Strategy for Japan

Step 4: Omni Channel Planning

Step 5: MROI Measurement


Step 1: 4 P's of Marketing Planning

Quite simply put, the 4 P’s of marketing are a great starting point for any company when building a marketing plan.

Even at AdVertize, our marketing agency in Tokyo goes through this process at the beginning of every project.

Whether you’re Nike or a small business coffee shop, everything begins with the 4P’s which are:


Understanding the product value.


Does the price make sense, where can you offer discounts or other LTO’s (limited time offers) which in places like Japan have a 80% impact on end online buying decisions.


Who is the customer? How big is the market? How many potential customers are there? This is very important, because even though you have a big product, are there enough people online with that problem? Now, before you say yes, you’d be surprised by the findings and past failures of many companies trying to enter the market so take the “Place” strategy seriously if you want to be successful.


Finally promotion- what channels, methods or means can you hypothetically use to reach them and what will this mean for the more aggressive planning later.

The exercise above can take anywhere from a day to a whole week to do correctly. However, if the data matches up, you should have a good sense of:

  • The problem you’re solving

  • Who you’re solving it for

  • How you’re going to do it

  • Where you’re going to make it work

To learn more about our 4P marketing offering, contact us today.

Following the 4 P's, or before depending on the situation, we then create a series of S.M.A.R.T. marketing goal.

S- Specific


A- Achievable


T-Time table

For example, once we have all of our information at hand on a client who wants to sell "shoes" online - our goals might look like this:

S- Increase sales by 20% month over month

M- Which means selling 1,000 pairs of shoes a month

A- A/B test Facebook vs Google and find out which one is "Hero" platform

R-Create new CRM system in alignment w/ consumer email trends to support 30% bottom of funnel closing

T-Time table- 1 month to success, with with weekly bench marks

Of course, everyone's goals will be different based on the objective, but if you want to achieve yours with AdVertize this is the best way to start.

However, to be attained every goal needs a customer to acquired to bring any vision to reality.

Step 2: Buyer Persona Building

The second and most overlooked part of the marketing planning process has everything to do with your buyer. Building a buyer persona these days is no easy task, there are entire digital marketing agencies who specialize in just this alone.

However, building a buyer persona for Japan is even more important because of the contrast between the Japanese consumers' decision making and what most traditional businesses are used to.

For example,

Japan is the only place in the world where Twitter is more popular than Facebook

Japan is the only place in the world where Yahoo search is more frequently used than Google search

And 98% of the population don’t speak any other language than Japanese, leaving little room for error just in case you don’t get something correct culturally, which happens quite often.

So, building a solid buyer persona means understanding everything about your customers such as:

Demographics: Age/Sex

Geographics: Location

Psychographics: Interests

And this type of information is necessary just so you can start a conversation- following this it’s essential to have this data so that you can effectively use the many digital publishing tools that require this data in order to even start running a campaign.

However, in Japan here are additional attributes to consider that weigh-in more culturally but are essential for success:

Language: 97% of the population speaks Japanese only

Lifestyle: Buying habits change based on family backgrounds

Culture: Severely important and there are thousands such as:

  • Long form content performs better than short form content

  • Ugly websites are just a matter of opinion - what you see is traditional for Japan as the more information the better

  • Community is the key to scale as public trust is key to success

  • Personal relationships equal results which is why offline events here are so popular

  • Change is actually a bad word, don't use it.- say update instead :)

  • 1 out of 5 Gen Z want to be a YouTuber

  • Females use Instagram to search events and yes- find friends

So whether you want to do the Buyer Persona work or not, if you’re using digital marketing, you’ll have to do it, unless you want to target ads to farmers in Japan that were intended for salary men in Tokyo.

Also, we should mention that Buyer Personas are important for personalization; each digital platform has its own algorithm designed around each user's experience. If you want your ads to be seen, yes you can target, but you also need to personalize them these days to get the return on action to make any of your campaigns worth the while.

For more about creating buyer personas view our webinar here.

Step 3: Content Marketing

Or more accurately, content strategy. The purpose of this phase of a marketing plan is to understand the story you’re going to tell, and how you’re going to tell it. These days, content strategy is often overlooked along with buyer persona development and that is a very compromising thing because without a content strategy, your plan can’t win.

The key of a good content strategy is to take your 4P’s, the Buyer they’re connected to and then map out what’s called a messaging plan in order to reach, engage, and then convert them into a fan or buyer.

The content strategy portion of planning usually involves these three critical elements.


Understand what type of positioning statement or pitch you can use to describe your brand that’s going to resonate with your target audience. Although this isn’t always the case, in some cases, a positioning statement can also be referred to as an elevator pitch. For building a brand positioning statement here are some great resources.


Messaging isn’t often as sexy, yet it requires a lot of work - messaging means taking your brand positioning statement and breaking it down into several different blocks or units based on your value proposition in order to appeal to each consumer. Messaging statements are written by copywriters, they can evolve, there is no limited number, and they’re essential in your marketing planning so that you know how to communicate the value of your product to the person you’re looking to reach.


Once you have a good pitch and the messaging to go with it, now you can build out how your content should be communicated on different platforms, channels, what are the different rules or guidelines it should follow.

For example, within our content structuring we also look to answer the following:

Why: Does this piece of content being created matter

How: Is it relevant to the consumer at hand

Does: It resonate with the current time and trends taking place

Will: It actually drive someone to action

Would: You feel comfortable sharing this content if you weren’t the one writing it (this is one of my favorites).

If you were to look at marketing planning like a tree it’s very simple actually:

  1. The 4P’s are the roots

  2. The Buyer Persona is the trunk or foundation

  3. The Content Strategy is the branches and/or of the wonderful types of stories that result due to an increase in product value

And finally comes the twigs or the different results that each branch uses to tell it’s story.

Or in other words, the channels with which it communicates.

Step 4: Omni Channel Marketing Planning

Without getting into too much detail, this approach of marketing planning is not set and has evolved so much that regardless of what marketing agencies try to sell their clients these days, there is rarely a one channel approach to achieving any goal.

If you think about it, are you only on your desktop all day without once looking at your phone?

Or, are you on your phone all day without looking at a single other screen or device?

The answer is often no, so why would you approach your marketing within the same manner.

At AdVertize, we look at this almost like engineering. So much so that we actually take an engineers approach to building out this final phase of any plan in order to ensure that we’re not just making, but that we’re “moving” the consumer from one point of action to the next.

To do this effectively, when working with AdVertize, you’ll hear us talk a lot about “Funnels”.

A digital marketing funnel is a personalized marketing model that shows the predicted customer journey toward buying a product.

To build a good funnel is usually the final part of your engineered marketing plan and usually involves three stages to be effective.

Top of Funnel

Regardless of what most people think, the likelihood of buying a product after seeing it for the first time is about 0%.

Now, if you’re disagreeing with this, that just means you don’t know the secrets to marketing planning like a good marketer does.

So, we’ll include you in on it.

The entire goal of this final stage is to incorporate a series of tactics using different permutations to get the consumer to purchase without really knowing they’ve been marketed to in the first place.

For example, you bought a bed last month because you knew you needed something new and went to the place you felt you could trust the most to buy it and that’s just it, plain and simple.

Or so you thought.

Behind the scenes, it can be assumed that the distributor places a series of messaging points across x number of outlets of which you see y times a week or month.

It’s also possible that your favorite celebrity shops there too or has in the past and even posts about it z times a year, and so you know it can be trusted.

It might also be the case that while you were doing research, you visited their website, saw the bed you liked, and then it popped back up in a way that looked “organic” into your instagram feed a few times.

All of this so that when you were ready to make a decision your subconscious mind told itself

x+y+z = that distributor for that bed, now.

This is marketing folks.

It’s a science, it's an engineered process, and it’s what we specialize at AdVertize when you build your marketing plan with us.

To execute this perfectly, TOFU campaigns are the ones where you’d see an advertisement however it’s not really asking you to do anything.

These campaigns are usually engineered in a way to meet the “8 times to make a decision” touch point rule. If on first touch, the message resonates, 7 more touches might just get you to do what I’m guessing you thought was next,

Visit the website.

Middle of Funnel

Middle of the funnel is sometimes left out of plans simply because it isn’t sexy enough these days.

Middle of Funnel activities usually refer to email acquisition campaigns, follow campaigns, or maybe even post like campaigns.

It’s hard to always gauge the value of these, however they are important mostly because MOFU always means taking the customer through the next stage of the journey.

For example, if you were to meet someone at an event:

TOFU: the handshake

MOFU: exchanging cards

MOFU usually just means activities where the goal is to acquire information because we know that according to science, the more a consumer engages with a brand, the more likely they are to buy when it matters.

So in the case we’ve been using, your visit to the website and then the click through you made to a specific product, price, and the fact you read reviews, means you’re now at the middle of the funnel for that marketer.

However, there’s still one more step involved - getting the customer to purchase.

Bottom of Funnel

During this stage is where marketers have the most fun and in our planning process so will you.

Most of our clients have 0 idea that their customers need to go through this cycle in order to make a purchase and that a series or set of activities need to be created, managed, analyzed, and optimized daily to get them there.

For BOFU, customers usually have already given an email or in this case we’ve used those who have visited a website, and so because we know what actions the consumer is taking, and have set up the appropriate parameters to notify us when they do, we can remarket to them.

This usually means retargeting the consumer with a discount, offer, or LTO (back to the 4p’s, now you’re getting it) and the offer has been baked in all along knowing at one point the customer would get here.

For many companies, especially in Japan, some brands purposely charge a high ticket price for their product in store so that online they can offer deals and discounts while still profiting or at least breaking even.

And this is very important because in Japan, consumers do buy online but when they do they’ll always be expecting a discount because the common accepted or cultural norm is to only buy online if there is a discount because store experiences are considered more of a cultural norm, where as buying online what you could already get in a store is not.

This is why discounted websites like zozo town and others are so important.

Step 5: MROI Measurement

The final step of good marketing planning, and one that AdVertize is well known for, is MROI measurement.

This often means understanding the KPI’s you aim to gather at each stage of the funnel, how they add up in order to drive each purchase (or which metrics you need frequently to drive action throughout the funnel), and then the total costs so that our client can understand how we’re measuring marketing spend and the ROI we aim to achieve based on our goal.

MROI measurement is an art form in a way with many of its roots living in Marketing Effectiveness Practices and or Marketing Mix Modeling formulas.

Regardless of which philosophy you aim to use, a marketing plan without an ROI attached to it these days, is not a marketing plan.

Let me say it again, a marketing plan without a suggested ROI or even ROAS attached to it is not a marketing plan.

It’s merely a bunch of ideas with a set up numbers that may or may not happen but one thing they will do is not make you any money without a MROI attached.

It’s important to know that ROI isn’t always just sales - the amount of likes a post gets, the followers an account gets- the formulas today are all there to itemize their ROI or in some circles we call these ROO’s (return on objectives).

Regardless, at AdVertize, this is part of what makes us special for clients when it comes to the marketing planning process.

The end isn’t only a month's worth of work, ideas, actions, creative, and plans to win your customer; it's always attached with a marketing ROI that we take our client through, even the math.

This way they know, they’re not only getting a digital marketing agency, they're getting a guarantee that value will be delivered and a marketing planning process designed for Japan that shows them exactly how.

AdVertize is a digital marketing agency in Tokyo that specializes in digital that delivers ROI, go here to learn more about other digital marketing agency services in Tokyo that we provide.

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