First Brand inc.Fumiko Kawamoto
Tell us about First Brand’s business.
I run a service called My Best Professional. It’s a community-based online service that helps to match professionals working in various fields in each prefecture with local consumers in need of their professional skills. These professionals really are a diverse array of individuals, from accountants to professional matchmakers to colorists.
There are said to be four million business operators and individual business owners in Japan right now. Many individual business owners provide great services, but the problem is that they lack both the skills to market themselves and a place in which to do so. My Best Professional brands and leverages them.
How does the mechanism work?
The problem when you’re looking for a professional is credibility. It’s really hard to tell whether or not the person you’ve found is reliable. At My Best Professional, We evaluate the businesses before we add them on the list and write articles about their professionals. Therefore, this provides a guarantee that the professionals on the My Best Professional are credible.
In addition, My Best Professional works with a local print or broadcast media outlet in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. You can use the internet to transmit information worldwide, but that information doesn’t necessarily have the weight of credibility. Print and broadcast media features on professionals help to boost the credibility of those professionals.
What are the advantages for print and broadcast media outlets?
Advertising is the key revenue stream for print media, but spending on mass advertising is declining by the year, so there’s a need to create micro-clients. For example, we place ads for My Best Professional in newspapers and feature lots of our professionals in them. It’s hard for a single company to afford ¥1 million, but if you have 20 professionals paying ¥50,000 per company, ad placement becomes a lot more affordable. In this way, small businesses that couldn’t previously have afforded to advertise in the newspaper now place ads, providing a new and growing income stream for print media companies.
When they’re featured in newspapers, our professionals also see an increase in both inquiries and income. Most business operators can afford ¥50,000, so the expenditure is worth it for them.
Tell us about your plans for future development.
I want to export Japanese services. The value of Japanese goods is highly acclaimed worldwide, but the value of services underpinned by our culture is also high. If we could promote our professionals via My Best Professional in English, I think we could even match them with consumers overseas.
Our company’s hypothesis is that the challenges faced by individual business owners are the same the world over. If this turns out to be the case, it would mean that in New York, for example, matching among New Yorkers is also available. I’m really keen to take on the challenge of overseas markets like that.