Portugal 2020: Investing in communication

Part of the focus of the Portugal 2020 investment and development program is ‘internationalisation’. As an international communicator I’ve been following this program, and the organisations involved, closely during the last year here. I’ve seen great developments. Of course there’s still a lot of work to do, in particular in the area of international communication. So, what can we do, you ask?

“You can invest however much you like on product or technology, without a communication strategy you won’t succeed in the long-term.”

Before I show you a case from my portfolio, let’s consider the relevant elements of international communication. First of all, what does ‘international’ mean for business? Basically, it means: a situation where people, groups or organisations interact with other people, groups or organisations from a different country or culture. I add the dimension ‘culture’ because you need to realise that you’re also dealing with different cultures within a country.

Communication covers every interaction, so awareness of regional or cultural differences is crucial for international success. If you are a Portuguese company or start-up with cross-border ambitions, you need to prepare your communications strategy with this in mind if you want to succeed in the long term. Developing a communications strategy is a challenge, but the effort will pay off. On the other hand, I’ve seen really great initiatives fail because of the lack of a vision (strategy) on communication. You can invest however much you like, without communication you won’t succeed in the long-term.

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International communication in Portugal

Let me start with a recent case*. Trying to attract more foreign quality visitors, this Portuguese restaurant realised it was time to change its marketing communication. In addition to offering a Portuguese menu, it stages differently themed events in the evening. They wanted to capture a new clientele, and the subsequent brief was to sell their Portuguese ambiance to foreign guests, both tourists and business visitors.

“Make sure that all your activities are aligned.”

What kind of actions were necessary? Now I’m not going into detail here, but we worked through these steps:

  • Define the current and future profile of your business?
  • Decide what you want to change. No need to change what’s okay!
  • Profile your current and future customer.
  • Create a realistic planning, based on an equally realistic budget.

From this exercise we took these tag words as a starting point for the development of our new communications approach: Portuguese, international, quality. In fact, we are not just working on creating a communications plan, we’re actually at the level of a business plan! Why? Because we have to make sure that all activities are aligned. Most communicators, I’m sorry to say, stick to a one-side approach. In my projects, cooperation on more levels is needed in order to make the communication effort as effective and durable as possible.

Consistent communication

Right, back to this business. The three key words are still ‘Portuguese, international, quality’, remember? These add up to a vision, a corporate story or whatever you want to call it. I use the concept of the Manifesto. This covers all aspects of the business, including the restaurant, the staff, the products and the services. And, of course, it covers the communication.

Time to start communicating! In cooperation with the owner, a project developer (investor) and a marketing support agency, I’ve developed the following tools in the communications plan:

  • Redesign of the identity based on the current design but more appealing to an international audience;
  • Brand guidelines in line with the freshly developed identity;
  • Online tools (website) and a social media content strategy;
  • Offline tools: from menus to flags and vouchers (print);
  • And, not to forget: the language options (in this case the focus is on English, French and German) for all relevant tools.

Production of communications tools and a list of actions during the year is subject to the plan/planning/budget we decided on. Of course, communication activities need to be flexible (active and reactive), so I’ll update  the customer regularly (in this case monthly) on progress, changes and challenges. Without getting into results yet, the change of direction quickly started paying off, as we wasted no time before the season’s start.

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What do you need as a start-up?

Each project I do is different. Very. I don’t do standard solutions. Because of the many variables a communications professional deals with, they should offer wide-ranging and flexible services on many levels. However, the essence of my services is always the same: getting to know the customer’s needs, their audience and using the best (read: most effective and efficient) tools available for communication, within planning and available budget. No blabla, just plan-do-check-act.

“In my experience, start-ups require an approach that is fast and effective.”

The Portugal 2020 program has resulted in start-ups with mostly international ambitions. Let’s take a look at their communications approach. What does a start-up need? Often, the technical (IT) capabilities are present, as well as a social media foundation. In my experience however, their online activities are not yet fully market-driven.

In my experience, supporting start-ups require an approach that is fast and effective, in line with their high ambitions. Often, we start with a basic training to the team on (international) marketing and communication, followed by hands-on support on creating what is most needed in the start:

  • A short-term communications plan
  • Website – online
  • Social Media strategy and plan
  • Trade fairs and personal contacts
  • Presentations
  • Brochures, hand-outs and other print and display material

The nature of start-ups requires less long-term strategy, but more hands-on approach. Weekly meetings or videoconferences are used to keep up to (full) speed with their quickly changing dynamics. It’s great to be part of it all, pushing future entrepreneurs literally across borders!

Finally: contrary to what many believe, communication is not just about communicating. Because of my international background, for me it’s very much about making communication work, about crossing borders. That’s the challenge! Are you prepared?

Contact

For more information, please visit the website alfred-jansen.com, contact me via e-mail at alfred@alfred-jansen.com, connect on social media, or simply call me: +351 936 814 043.

*I’ve adapted the case in order to protect my client.

Why I moved to Portugal…

Now I’ve started my communications work in Portugal, my friends, business partners and colleagues start asking me the reasons for my move. This is, of course, a very legitimate thing to ask. Let me share some of my thoughts on this.

If you check out my bio, you’ll discover that I’ve quite a record when it comes to communication. Coming from a Dutch entrepreneurial family with international ties, it is natural for me to look across borders. However, this is the first time I took the step of really moving out of my native country for work. Why oh why?

The challenge

First reason: this is a challenge. Look at my CV or bio, and you’ll see that within my profession I always took on major challenges. Like starting up the PR for the then new car brand Daewoo. Or, some years later, setting up the corporate communications department of the listed B2B multinational Vopak. More recently I was involved in developing a social media and privacy strategy for a leading major healthcare organisation. I love complex project. I love building. Coming to Portugal poses a new challenge. Focusing on international communication, I am thoroughly challenged.

The possibilities

A challenge alone is not enough to make a move. Having been a regular visitor to Portugal, I have seen not only those challenges, but also increasing possibilities and opportunities. I believe in the products and services coming from this country, which combine innovation and tradition with craftsmanship and sustainability. However, I also believe that the communication deserves a boost. I’m convinced that my multinational background will add to what is already here. It is not just about marketing, it is about bridging invisible barriers and connecting in new ways.

The perspectives

‘The grass is always greener…’, I’m sure you know the saying. Portugal is, in many ways, a unique part of Europe and definitely different from my country of origin. So far, I’ve learnt a lot about the societal, social and cultural climate here. I had to step way out of my comfort zone when moving here. In return I gained new perspectives and reflections. I don’t believe the different climate is or should be a deciding factor, though I’m not going to complain about the weather here. Let’s be realistic: it should never mask the other qualities Portugal has to offer. In short: I’m finding new perspectives.

‘Cross the bridge when you get there’. Well, I’ve arrived.’

The diversity

Portugal is a fascinating place to be. Interestingly, it shares a common world-conquering history with my native country. However, the way its colonial past has been absorbed into daily life is quite different. Having been active in various areas of diversity, I have become inspired by the Portuguese approach towards diversity and inclusion. I realise how sensitive this matter is, and I’m sure there are lessons to be learnt for me in this area. Yes, I’ve come here to learn.

The passion

So, you see there are many reasons for me to be here. Last and definitely not least I want to mention the most personal one: love and friendship(s). These have been the ultimate triggers to not only continue my professional life here in Portugal, but also rebuild my personal life. To me, there is no difference in personal and professional.

This is all about passion and the pursuit of dreams. It’s real life. As one of my friends taught me: ‘Cross the bridge when you get there’. Well, I’ve arrived. And I’m now crossing the proverbial bridge…

 

 

 

 

 

Alfred Jansen starts international communications activities in Portugal

Continuing his longstanding career in international communication, today Alfred Jansen has officially moved his activities to Portugal. From his studio in Campolide in Lisbon he will serve both his existing clients in other European countries as well as new clients based in Portugal.

Alfred: “It took a couple of years of research to take this step into Portugal. I’m convinced I can add value. It is a challenge I’m happy to take on!”.

Alfred Jansen has a history as a communicator in a diverse range of areas: automotive, transport, logistics, ICT, GDPR/Privacy, tourism, fashion, healthcare and inclusivity. He is equally at home in a business-to-business environment as in consumer-related businesses. In addition to the communications services (producing content and media), he’s got a great track record in training, events and presentations.

In Portugal, Alfred focuses on the following business areas:
  • Internationally operating multinational companies and organisations in Portugal;
  • Portuguese companies with cross-border activities (or ambitions);
  • In addition, he sees a lot of potential with start-ups, multicultural and tourist-focused activities, as well as with communications agencies looking for cross-border opportunities.

Depending on the needs, his approach will be strategic, hands-on and result-driven. Originating from the Netherlands, combined with a mixed English and German background, Alfred will look to connect, translate and educate in order to internationalise communication. Being a non-native Portuguese, he co-operates with Portuguese experts where possible.

Specialised communication for ambitious businesses

Alfred: “Having dealt with many different types of companies (and governmental and non-governmental organisations) in different areas and countries, I’m now offering my services to all ambitious, quality-driven businesses in Portugal.

Contrary to what many believe, communication is not only about communicating. Because of my business background, for me it’s very much about making communication work.”

Contact

In a short video presentation, Alfred explains his drive into Portugal. He can be reached via the website alfred-jansen.com, via e-mail at alfred@alfred-jansen.com, via social media or simply by phone on +351 936 814 043.