1. Work

Big in Japan

International marketing in the education sector can be complicated for English-speaking organisations. This is especially the case when dealing with multiple countries and multiple channels. We chose to focus on Japan.

International marketing in the education sector is a many-to-many relationship.

As an education provider, you could be dealing with enquiries and bookings from maybe 40 or 50 countries daily. The default position tends to be to do all of your comms in English, because you're an English-speaking organisation, and you're offering an 'English education'. Right? Well maybe. But that's not even the biggest issue.

The real issue is that you need to speak to each country in a culturally appropriate way, and ensure you address the concerns, ambitions, goals and preconceptions a particular country might have. So we're talking 'glocalisation'. The term was coined in the 1980s by Roland Robertson at Harvard. Almost 45 years on, and we're still not necessarily doing this in international education marketing.

Imagine our delight when we were approached by a big international education concern who wanted to improve their international enrolments.

With a bit of digging, it became apparent they had seen a downturn from the Japanese market and they gave us access to their data. We identified a string of channel opportunities - quick wins, if you like, but what really came across was the need to adapt the content on their website and marketing materials to the needs of the Japanese audience.

What we're not considering here is changing the product. We're simply being mindful of what would really 'speak' to a single-country audience. We're also fully aware that it can be dangerous to assume that nationality can provide a single set of characteristics. That said, cross-cultural training experts will tend to agree on sets of tendencies which are culturally likely.

What we did

  • The past sales data told its own story and enabled us to pinpoint key agents in key locations and trigger awareness about supply and demand
  • We sent one of our consultants to Japan to conduct primary research. She's a Japanese national and so had a good opportunity to get under the skin of what parents, agents and student think about international education in the UK and US.
  • We also leveraged the organisations own in-country presence and scrutinised past campaigns and approaches.
  • We conducted our own primary and secondary research, including an online agent questionnaire
  • We compiled a How To Guide for marketing to Japan which went beyond a culture guide, but rather specified the exact digital content which would bridge the gap and 'glocalise' the organisation's generic, geo-centric marketing to the Japanese market.

The output

  • A Japanese and English language SEO & Keyword Audit
  • A full set of technical website optimisation recommendations
  • 35-page content strategy guide for Japan
  • Handover meetings and steerage

And what about translation?

We're pleased to say the organisation took it upon themselves to translate most of the site into Japanese. We're monitoring how that works out for them over the coming months.

What did the organisation have to say about it?

I just wanted to say how impressed I am with the report you sent us. I am just digesting it and identifying areas of action. It is a really useful analysis and it provides lots of opportunities to reflect on what we are currently doing and actions we need to take.

Thank you again for your work, it is precious!

Find out how we can help you by getting in touch