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Doing business in The Netherlands, and in Europe!

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Doing business in The Netherlands, and in Europe!

Working in partnership with other businesses is the essence of 21st century success. Start-ups in particular benefit from a collaborative framework in which ideas can be generated and prospective partnerships initiated. PR consultants like EVOKE partners, with their natural flair for communication, should foster such co-operation at national and international level.

In today’s fast-paced networked economy, professional PR consultants must work closer with marketing departments to maintain and improve business skills and market knowledge. But technical mastery of our discipline is not enough. The key to professional success, is the ability to earn the trust and confidence of clients.The creation of trust is what earns the right to influence clients; trust is also at the root of client satisfaction and loyalty and it is even more essential when business practices are carried out at international level.

Today’s business environment is more challenging than ever with powerful forces affecting companies competitive positions. These forces include rapidly changing preferences, erosion in trust, pricing and time pressures, and far reaching technological advance. Therefore, we need to provide a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic business environment. So a professional network such as EVOKE PR can offer a distinct advantage.

Almost every business person in Europe speaks some English, but 96% are only fluent in their mother tongue. Cold calls are still used to gain new businesses yet these can only be initiated in the language of the person who is receiving the call. Trying to do business in English only, even in a country with such high levels of foreign languages proficiency as The Netherlands, isn’t good enough. Though a study conducted among SMEs in the EU-27 and published in 2011, showed that the number of companies that have a clear foreign language strategy has increased from 10 to 25% cultural barriers still remain in place.

Even here in The Netherlands, the manager of a foreign company with expertise in healthcare systems and on the last day of the Zorg & ICT exhibition was told to come back the following year with more support material in Dutch, as well as Dutch speaking staff.

According to a report by Bloomberg in 2012, Hong Kong is the best place to do business followed in second place by The Netherlands. This reflects The Netherlands’ appeal as an economy with a strong strategic position in Europe, as well as excellent transport links to other key economies of the region, backed by a highly educated workforce.

Despite the fact that the Dutch market is very well developed, with many suppliers already offering competitive goods and services, there are still good opportunities to export and introduce new products successfully. Like in all countries, it is always advisable to conduct first some market research to establish specific needs before exporting goods or services. The same basic export approaches apply. Entering a market with a ‘me too’ product requires a greater competitive advantage than similar ones, or he presence of added values such as greater guarantees, more attractive packaging etc. Clearly if a product is brand new there are advantages, but one should still find out why that product is missing as there may be good reasons behind it, such as restrictions or cultural barriers.

Relative to its size, The Netherlands has a very strong economy with a solid trading background dating back several centuries. As a consequence many multinational companies are based in The Netherlands and the Dutch economy is very open and business friendly. From a pan-European perspective setting up a business base in The Netherlands is one of the best decisions a foreign company could make. But despite the inherent cultural receptivity and ease of business it is still essential to work within the country’s own system and culture, if a business wants to do more than merely ‘survive’.

As professional PR consultants we need to ensure all aspects of the communication process are taken into account and developed, refining ideas and concepts so that these resonate more effectively within target audiences with the aim of articulating features, insights, benefits, and claims, leading at increasing the propensity to purchase. Together we can invert the traditional research approach. For example, a good starting point here in The Netherlands would be the setting up of small qualitative groups of Dutch business prospects. By inverting the research approach we can make the best of both on-line and off-line methodologies, within a coherent process that delivers deeper, richer and more meaningful insight as well as more quality ideas.

But what are the fastest developing business sectors in The Netherlands in 2012 and beyond? Education, postal and distribution services, logistics, industrial and food processing, ICT and telecoms, together with related professional services (and yes even bicycles!), to medical and healthcare sytems, renewable energy, water projects, waste related services, e-banking, cybersecurity and much more – in short all that is so vitally important to the development of 21st century businesses. Welcome to The Netherlands, and to Europe.

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