What Traveling to Tokyo Taught Me About Marketing Nation

  • Vanessa Griffiths

    Vanessa Griffiths

Published Jul 18, 2019

What Traveling to Tokyo Taught Me About Marketing Nation


Uncover insights, break language barriers, and share the passion for marketing. Discover how fearlessness is the Marketo way of life.

As a startup in a massive industry, the Knak team understands that we need to operate with a high degree of fearlessness if we want to stand out among the many MarTech vendors in an ever-growing ecosystem.

So when an opportunity to present at the Marketo User Group Day in Tokyo popped up in our Slack channel, I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand. Sure, I wasn’t the most experienced public speaker, and I’d never travelled such a long way on my own. But the Marketo community puts a high value on fearlessness, so I set my self-doubt aside and hit the ground running.

As one of the leaders of the Ottawa Marketo User Group, I couldn’t wait to see how a city as big as Tokyo organizes their MUGs. I wanted to soak up as much of the experience as possible so I could share it back in Ottawa. I was also excited to introduce Knak to a broader group of Marketo users.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience.

Tokyo MUGs are no joke

Tokyo MUGs are no joke

A typical Ottawa MUG usually involves a few hours and a guest speaker. The Tokyo MUG Day lasted for six hours, featured execs from Clearbanc and Marketo as well as a privacy lawyer, and hosted more than 300 marketers.

In addition to the size of the event, I was thoroughly impressed by the many guest speakers present and the breadth of topics covered.

Breakout sessions centered around many different aspects of the Marketo community – from Femketo (women who use Marketo) to vendor-specific groups like Salesforce, Adobe Experience Manager, and more.

Marketing Nation is bigger than I thought

Marketing Nation is bigger than I thought

The Marketo Community in Japan, much like the one I’ve become familiar with in North America, is strong. Many of the 300 people in attendance knew each other well, likely due to the fact that they don’t wait for a MUG Day to come around to get together. In addition to the bi-annual MUG Days, Marketo users in Tokyo can take advantage of monthly breakout sessions geared towards specific marketing groups.

The Tokyo MUG Day attendees were also more than welcoming to me. Despite the language barrier they embraced me fully, offering suggestions for restaurants, parks, and attractions to visit. I was thrilled to receive such a warm welcome!

Think global, act local

Think global, act local

For my presentation, I spent some time introducing Knak and discussing the future of email marketing (through an incredible translator, of course!). The booming tech industry in Japan means that Japanese companies can run their entire Marketing department without going outside the country for support, but that doesn’t mean they’re not open to collaborating with their North American counterparts. Countless MUG Day attendees came up to me after the presentation to ask questions about Knak and find out how we could help them build beautiful emails faster. It was amazing to see their excitement about engaging with a Canadian company.

Fearlessness: the Marketo way of life

Fearlessness: the Marketo way of life

While I was experiencing my own doubts about MUG Day (the size of the crowd, the language barrier), I realized that the attendees were having some of the same hesitations. The event organizers encouraged them to speak to me in English in order to get some practice, but shyness from both sides stifled communication.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before we started nerding out over our mutual love of marketing. I got to hear stories from several different marketers about how they reached their current roles, how they manage Adobe Marketo Engage at their organizations, and how they’re tackling their biggest marketing challenges. In each story, “fearlessness” played a role, and I heard the message over and over again: in marketing and in life, you’ve got to just ignore the fear and get things done.

Different side of the world, same email problems

Different side of the world, same email problems

Despite the language barrier, everybody was able to air their grievances over what we and Knak are most passionate about– the email creation process. Hearing marketers on the other side of the world talk about the same pain points, from creating the emails themselves to getting them approved by the right people, was equal parts comforting (at least I’m not the only one) and exciting (Knak can help!). It was so motivating to know that the work that Knak helps marketers far beyond our front door.

All-in-all, I’m so glad I took advantage of this experience. It’s always easy to come up with reasons to maintain the status quo, but this trip halfway around the world gave me the opportunity to live out the fearlessness that Marketo encourages. It was my first time in Japan, my first presentation with a translator, the first time I ate ramen in a private cubicle (!!!), and my first experience meeting my Japanese Marketo counterparts.

For many of the Tokyo MUG Day attendees, it was their first introduction to Knak. Hopefully it offered some insight into what Marketers are doing in other parts of the world; at the very least, it was an opportunity to work on their English, likely a step outside their comfort zone for many.

And isn’t being out of your comfort zone the first step to being fearless?

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    Vanessa Griffiths


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