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Addressing Japan and Japanese! Will it get there?

Date: September, 2009 --

There are many unfortunate myths that surround direct marketing in Japan. Among some of those myths are those saying postal service is bad, addresses are inadequate, and the language has an impenetrable alphabet system. Many of America's and Japan's largest and smallest companies have found these and other "truths" about Japan to be false. And the professionals at Data Services can guide you past all those myths.

After all, Japan is the second largest direct marketing market in the world on a per capita basis after the United States. Moreover, according to data supplied by the Japan Direct Marketing Association, the B2B direct market in Japan was larger on a per person basis than the United States in 2007. Direct mail works.

According to the largest Japanese ad agency, Dentsu, total ad spend is $59b, with Internet $5.5bn, or 8.6%, more than for magazines, and slightly ahead of direct mail at 6.5%. If you want to reach potential customers of any age, you'll see that they aren't getting much else in their mail box. Your piece, if it follows some proper rules, will get undivided attention. As with any country there are some basic rules of the game.

First, do not be afraid to use U.S. Postal Service products, as they have an excellent relationship with Japan Post to mail into the country. Japan Post is a member of the Kahala Post Group, an alliance of 10 leading postal services, which recently forecast revenue growth of 9% for 2009. More people are sending more mail and shipping more parcels among the countries of Japan, Australia, China, Korea, the US, Spain and the UK France and Singapore.

Second, use the language. Your offer needs to be in Japanese, and beautifully translated. Unlike many other countries, Japanese consumers generally don't even pretend to speak English.

Third, start with a control package that has worked in another country. Japanese consumers will respond to copy and unique offers much like consumers elsewhere and they are always looking for an interesting offer, and a bargain.

Fourth, because the written language is so complicated, and Japanese lists may use combinations of the four, yes four, different alphabets employed in writing for names and addresses, list hygiene is even more mission-critical than in nearly any other country. And because there are a limited number of surnames used in the Japanese language, getting the Japanese and Chinese characters correct, and attached to the right address, is essential.

The task of switching names and addresses back and forth between the English alphabet (Romaji), Chinese characters (Kanji) and the two phonetic scripts (Katakana and Hiragana) is best left to professionals. To be sure your carefully constructed, tasteful and unique offer reaches your prospect or customer, be sure you ask Data Services to show you their new capabilities in Japanese database maintenance, list cleaning and address verification and hygiene.

Learn more about Japan-Complete, the new Japan data processing service from Data Services.