Exasperation

As you know, I’m a staff writer over at Kyotogram,a facebook page showcasing the best of Kyoto. I enjoy the job, mostly because I do learn a lot about doing business in Japan, but it seems that there’s something driving me nuts every six months or so. No, it’s not the main job this time, nor is it the people. Work runs smoothly and rather predictably, I am happy with the atmosphere and the money is good still. But then there is the kyozutsumi… In the following “we” mostly refers to the main Kyotogram staff, I’m not involved in all the decisions.

It’s a new project that we’re trying to start, and the way it is run is just totally beyond me and drives me up the walls in the office (and at home too).Essentially it’s about selling things to the Kyotogram fans on facebook. So, we came up with the idea of the “kyozutsumi”, meaning a little package from Kyoto. It contains items that were made in or associated with Kyoto, and you buy the whole set that is only available (as this particular set) through us. So far the basic idea.

We started looking for a partner back in January, when the goodies for the first kyozutsumi were chosen: A set of three items made with the old Yuzen dyeing method by a small company hand-crafting them in Kyoto. They even agreed to do all the packing and shipping for us, which makes things much easier on our side.That was the easy part, things went downhill from there.

kyozutsumiFast forward to March, when we put out the first advertising on Facebook plus an article on the Kyotogram website (on a Friday). There was no easing into the idea: “That’s our kyozutsumi and here you can preorder”, that was all. If I see that on a site that has never done this before I go HUH? and move on. Of course, people were not eager to do anything, the post did not get much reach (meaning: views) either, and the preorders were in single digits.

On Tuesday the bombshell was dropped onto us writers: Somebody higher up we had never met before had finalised the contract with the craftsmen – and promised them 50 preorders until the end of March. Please believe me when I say: We started screaming! 50 preorders in such a short time are pretty much impossible and since then, all of us are in panic mode, trying to get more people to preorder. It’s not looking good – the main staff is trying to advertise to more people on facebook, going so far as to promise gifts for sharing our posts, trying to change the article on the Kyotogram website to make it more appealing…

Of course, with that bomb exploding just two weeks ago, the planned marketing campaign (whatever little plan there was) is now dead. First the slogan was “Show Your Love for Kyoto Culture”, and “Brand New Tradition”. Now it is “Preserve Yuzen Dyeing”. And of course, the copy that I’m writing for the article on the homepage is constantly being changed without my knowledge. I have lost count on how often I have already commented on it, and it still reads horribly. That’s the main thing that drives me nuts. A good marketing campaign doesn’t chase customers – the customers are made to chase you! Unfortunately, nobody in the group really knows how to write good copy and advertisements…

And then, I am also looking at this from a slightly detached position on the outside. There are so many things I don’t get: What’s with the preorder? Why not set up a shopping page immediately? It’s the internet, I want to shop now, not whenever the seller gets their ducks in a row, that’s not my problem. And what’s with the 50? It seems that the craftsman has only 50 in stock before he needs to start making new ones or something, but again: not our problem.

The worst part: It is very likely that, if this project is not taking off, this will be the end of Kyotogram, which means that I’ll need a new job. Which would be a pity, because I really enjoy what I’m doing.

So,if you’d like to keep me busy for the time being, have a look at the kyozutsumi page. The items are really nice – I held them in my hand – and especially the little wallet or pouch is of great quality. My favourite is the blue one with the rabbit. You may want to consider helping out with a preorder – all you need is your email address. And it’s okay if you don’t buy in the end, as far as I understand the system. I already preordered. Several times. Just sayin’… 😉

One thought on “Exasperation

  1. I remember seeing those items in a facebook post, but I can’t remember anything about pre-ordering them. O.o Is everyone clear on who your target audience is? Shipping inside Japan is included in the price, but Kyotogram seems more targeted towards tourists than local Japanese. It might make sense to at least have a shipping estimate for America, Europe and mainland Asia on the site as well. People are lazy. Writing an additional e-mail might just be that step too much.

    Well they are cute, so I did just put in a preorder. Luckily, I now know a Japanese address I could potentially ship it to. 😉

    Hope everything works out for you!