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Balkans.com: Krazy Fish is a marketing and corporate communication agency, in Serbia, that covers all aspects of public relations and marketing in the region. Can you tell our readers how you started and what challenges you have faced?
Danica Radisic: Actually, Krazy Fish is a regional agency, we are equally based out of Belgrade and Zagreb and working to expand slowly but surely into the rest of Southeastern Europe as we see it all as one integrated market on many levels. While we do offer most marketing and PR related services, we are specifically focused on offering these services to small and medium sized enterprises, especially in the fields of tourism, business events, food and beverage.
Believe it or not, we started the business online. In fact, my Croatian business partner and co-owner of Krazy Fish and I didn’t meet in person for almost a year while we were working together. Most would say this was highly innovative of us, but I see it as very old-school business – businesses in the 19th century mostly corresponded through mail and later telegrams, while export from Serbia to the US and other continents was successfully growing during that time. Other than trying to tie together an entire region with a very small team and bootstrapped resources, we still face common entrepreneurial challenges daily and yearly – harsh economic times, bureaucracy, slow reform and, above all, working in a developing industry in an emerging market. But choosing to build a business in the Balkans was a conscious decision, not a circumstance, and we really believe in the potential of this market, so we’re willing to work hard, sleep less, and push forward.
Balkans.com: You recently undertook the marketing for the upcoming Balkan Venture Forum, can you tell us more about this event and why this event is so important to the region?
Danica Radisic: Yes and, although I just joined the team organizing the Balkan Venture Forum in Belgrade some 45 days ahead of the event, I was thrilled to do so. Promoting this conference is more of a mission than a job for me, because I can honestly say I believe in the cause, if I may call it that. Serbia and the region not only need venture and equity capital, but we have so much to offer in the sense of innovation, technological development, IT and ICT services and green energy solutions. The Balkan Venture Forum targets exactly that and we will be introducing entrepreneurs and investors directly at the event on November 22nd and 23rd. No red tape, no approval of government funding or subsidies, no hoops to jump through and no time to waste. The event is there to help companies and investors get straight to work. That concept is what immediately got me interested in working on this event – the potential for almost immediate results.
Of course, all the regional governments are working on creating support for investments and we very much appreciate that some Serbian government officials and institutions are supporting the conference itself. This is a unique opportunity for the public and private sectors to come together with investors and work on developing the vast potential of the regional market. We plan on making this a regular yearly event in Belgrade and I feel the region needs more events like it.
Balkans.com: As a forward thinking agency, can you please give us your view point about social media in Serbia and how that is changing business?
Danica Radisic: The forward-thinking of our agency is actually very much based on past experiences in the region. I happen to be a history buff and, from my experience with people in Eastern Europe in general, I believe social media is perfect for this region. People here, or consumers if you will, grew accustomed to using alternate sources of information and obtaining goods, because many of the typical channels and markets were closed off or hard to reach during the era of socialism and communism. For decades, trends were created through simple word-of-mouth and peer recommendation, words you will now often hear used in the world of online marketing, not commercials and advertising gimmicks. That’s exactly the role social media plays in marketing today – creating word-of-mouth, peer recommendation, and trends through communication and customer service, which ultimately all lead to sales. The consumers in this region are already Web-savvy shoppers and potential brand ambassadors, businesses should be putting that to good use.
Balkans.com: With so many prosperous events planned and successful marketing projects you must have a lot of rewarding moments, but what would you say is the most memorable?
Danica Radisic: Good question and food for thought. The utmost rewarding factor is that, tough as it may be sometimes, I love what I do for a living and nothing beats that. As for the rewards of particular projects, I would have to emphasize all the “firsts” we were fortunate enough to be involved in. With The Brown Forum organized by the US State Department and Embassy in Croatia, we had the opportunity to work on the first ever closed, diplomatic and high-level business conference in the region that was entirely livestreamed and open to the global public online. Anyone with an Internet connection was able to follow and post questions to ministers and top CEOs during and after panels. We were also the first team in Southeastern Europe to ever monitor a national election online and in real-time, for Media Center in Belgrade during the presidential and parliamentary elections in May of this year in Serbia. The Balkan Venture Forum will also carry a few first time elements. Like anything else in live, the “firsts” require a lot of experimenting and overcoming fears that it may not work quite the way we wanted it to, but they are always the sweetest memories.
Balkans.com: In today’s economy we constantly hear about the role of “creating value” as strategic brand necessities, as a forward thinking agency, how do you accomplish this for your clients?
Danica Radisic: Absolutely, the artificial era of fueled consumerism is on its last breath and people are looking for real value in everything they purchase. Times are tough everywhere and consumers will no longer buy something pretty and shiny, they are buying what they need and they now have the tools to research and buy products and services that offer the best quality for the least amount of money. A better informed consumer creates a more competitive market and, in turn, demands more in marketing and advertising those products. Over some 50 years or more, marketing answered the consumers’ question “Why is this cool to have?”. Today it needs to answer the consumers’ question “Why do I really need this?”
The way we accomplish this for our clients is through transparency and using integrated channels that are specifically adequate for that particular client. First and foremost, we’re lucky to work with clients that all have high-quality products and services, which makes our job fairly easy in presenting them. Apart from that, the true secret is in finding and reaching their target audience properly. The old Serbian saying goes: every product has its buyer. We don’t shove our clients’ brands in consumers’ faces, we simply find where the demand is on the market and we help our clients fill that demand. It’s all about getting back to business basics – getting to know your consumers and supplying their demand.
Balkans.com: Our readers are businesses and investors who are interested in investing or have invested in the region, what is a marketing or PR trend that all companies should embrace in order to thrive in the region?
Danica Radisic: The Balkans are a tricky region – culturally, historically and in a business sense. The most important thing for any business or investor to do here is to get to know the market and the consumers well. We’re a quircky bunch. We have a fantastic work force, tons of manufacturing experience, a great geographic position and a load of potential, but we lack capital and we are creatures of habit that have a difficult time accepting change. My advice is: listen to the market, research it well and form an implementable understanding of it. There is a method to our madness and, once discovered, it can be incredibly profitable.