Dealing with special sensitivities – a real-world international copywriting case study

Part two of our five-part series on international copywriting
Some products and services are particularly challenging to sell in international markets due to target buyers with cultural differences and unique buying tendencies. In this case study, find out how a financial services company reached wealthy, but cautious, Japanese investors with a well-executed website. Learn how our own English-to-Japanese copywriting team helped them rewrite and revamp their web copy – and find out the results.

Japanese translation company
Swiss private banking

Nicholas Rose:
Private banking advisor

International copywriting case study
We keep telling you how valuable it is to think carefully about international copywriting projects, and here’s some more inspiration. One of our favorite copywriting success stories is about our development of Japanese web copy for our client Nicholas Rose. As the sole Japan-focused partner at Invest Partners Wealth Management AG, he’s responsible for marketing to Japanese web surfers who are interested in Swiss private banking and wealth management.

When we worked on this project a couple of years ago, private banking had recently become more popular in Japan. Prudent risk-taking by Japanese investors was more common than it had been in the 1990s. So, off-shore providers such as Invest Partners were able to compete in Japan against a growing number of domestic private banking firms. Invest Partners came to us to launch their website,, which needed to emphasize that ‘Swiss private banking is just as safe as savings and investments offered inside Japan, and comes with unique advantages.’

Now, we consumers, Japanese or otherwise, don’t buy financial services the way we buy music or clothing. We don’t tend to make important purchasing decisions on a whim while browsing a website, no matter how trustworthy the seller. Japanese in the demographic targeted by firms providing wealth management services tend to hesitate to identify themselves in an online contact form, let alone make any sort of hasty commitment. So, Invest Partners’ goal was simply to convert web visitors to viable prospects. They planned to define “conversions” as each occurrence when a visitor was persuaded to make initial contact by sending an email or making a phone call. From there, the eventual path toward signing the necessary account opening documents would be made through direct communication, often over the course of months. Easy, right? Nope. Not so simple at all. Even if the first sales step is merely to make contact, sites aimed at such a sensitive market as this require incredibly meticulous native copywriting in order to convey complete trustworthiness. That’s where we came in. We needed to build exactly the right internal team to fuss over every single word together with Nicholas, directly.

As luck would have it, one regular member of our Japanese copywriting team had written private banking material for Citigroup. For this project, she worked closely with Nicholas along with our project manager and the Japanese search engine marketing team at Wasabi Communications to rewrite Invest Partners’ boilerplate text for the Japanese site. The three-way conferences between the SEM firm, the client and us were indispensable. That’s where the real success was created. They launched the site and we held our breath.

During the first year as Nicholas and Wasabi both monitored the actual site usage, they paid close attention to the “persuasion architecture” – or text, navigation and images used to persuade websurfers to take action. The first iteration took some tweaking. Honestly, early on, none of us felt completely sure that Japanese prospects in this market would respond via the web. But then things started to turn around. Conversion rates rose. Our heart rates dropped back down to normal levels. And most importantly, Nicholas and Invest Partners saw their Japanese business take off.

Today, this well oiled marketing machine of a website is generating quality prospects and the investment has paid for itself. It’s not magic. It’s all a matter of careful collaboration. When a client team, a search engine marketing team and a copywriting team work together closely, it’s possible to come up with persuasive copy even for the most sensitive markets.

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