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Welcome to Romania

I decided to move to Romania last year December. And yes, there was a woman involved. After 50 years of tulips, Dutch cheese, windmills and Geert Wilders I had seen enough of Holland. I was not that  ”Englishman in New York ” Sting wrote about, but a ” Dutchman in Bucharest ”.

By Marcel de Roode

My girlfriend told me, write about your first few months here, it will be quite interesting for people to know how it really is. I said really? You mean how it is from our bitterballen and other snacks to sarmale and piftie? No, she said, I mean about the business we are in, PR, Marketing and Sales. Well OK if you insist, I replied.

This is a short introduction to this piece I’m writing now, about my experience in the Wonder World of PR, Marketing and Sales in Bucharest.

The first thing I’ve noticed when getting in touch with possible clients was the way most of them ignored the urgency of communicating with the outside world. But after that, they were telling the whole time, I need new clients, they don’t know me at all, how is this possible?? In a market where there is not much competition you can do probably without any communication towards your target groups. This is what many people were used to here, I first get in touch with the friends and friends of friends and we’ll see later what happens after that. Yes, this can work for a while, but there comes a moment when the ”well” of friends dries up, and what then?

For me this information from these clients was the reason I came up with the idea of starting our own business, named No Borders Communications. I saw the gap with the business here, people got stuck with their business, thinking how to move on, which way to go? To see the needs is one, to make clear what they should do and against what budget, is two. Many people here are totally not used to pay for supporting services. They are suspicious about anyone trying to help them with professional advice. Why should I? I know it all, and I don’t need anyone. Sometimes ego gets in the way as well. For us as professionals the task is to tell a honest and clear story.

And one of the stories I tell is the story of Heineken, my favorite beer. Why should a brand which is always top of mind – and top of sales – spend so much money on communications and marketing ? Because it needs to stay on this top.

The theory says the marketing budget of a company should be 5% of its revenues. Heineken, one of the biggest brands on the planet, has a marketing and selling budget of more than 12% of its revenues, in the context where these revenues were bigger than 20 billion euros in 2016, according to the information made public by the company. To give you a flavor of their communications strategy, I have to mention that Heineken paid 45 million USD for that Daniel Craig sip a beer in Skyfall. In US, the advertising budget grew from 311 million USD in 2012 to 412 million USD in 2015. According to Forbes magazine, Heineken is on 85th place in the top of the world most valuable brands. Since 1994, Heineken has been the main sponsor of UEFA Champions League, a partnership that has just been renewed until 2021. A family business founded by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1864, Heineken was transformed into a global brand by Freddy Heineken, the grandson of Gerard, who entered in the service of the company in 1941 and was involved until his death in 2002. He has played a major role in the conception of its centrepiece, the logo. When supervising the restyling of the art deco fat-face logotype in the 1950s, Freddy Heineken proposed the ‘laughing e’ with the cheerfully sloped cross-bar that has remained in place ever since.

I always start my story that in times like these, when the competition gets tougher, you can’t do without a proper communication strategy. Get in touch with your target audience, tell them who you are , interact. If you’re not doing it, your competition will do it at some point. And yes, it takes some financial efforts, creating a communication budget, but it always pays off on the longer term. It’s up to us, the communication professionals, to get this message clear between the ears of our clients. If you can’t tell them what your added value in this whole thing is, you don’t stand a chance. I had some really interesting meetings with clients these last few months, also because there is a difference in approach, I say the Dutch (sometimes blunt) way and the more reserved Romanian way. But the meetings were always in good harmony, and most of the time after a good and sometimes heated conversation it always ended with, by the way ”Welcome to Romania”. And a beer.


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