Improved enforcement of internal market rules is a priority for the European Commission. In some cases legislation in individual member states diverges from EU rules, which may cause problems for individual citizens and businesses. In such cases the European Commission’s SOLVIT network can help them. In practice, many businesses in the Netherlands are unaware of the services that SOLVIT provides. Earlier attempts to promote awareness of SOLVIT had only a marginal effect. The European Commission asked us to evaluate the situation. The next step was to develop a communication strategy and campaign in partnership with creative agency Kwieker. The objective: to put SOLVIT on the radar of businesses and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.
Despite the potentially valuable support that SOLVIT offers free of charge, the share of business cases submitted throughout Europe is lower than cases submitted by individuals. The problem is that business awareness of SOLVIT is extremely limited. The ambition of the SOLVIT centre in the Netherlands (which operates from EZK, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) is to attract more business cases and, by extension, to set an inspiring example to other SOLVIT centres in Europe. Given the importance of evidence-based policy making for the European Commission, the choices made must be based on up-to-date market insights.
Our work to develop the communication strategy and campaign started with conducting research to obtain insight in the current situation and to collect input for the strategy. We then translated all insights into a targeted strategy including a sharper focus on brand positioning, target group analysis, tailored messaging and main themes to improve SOLVIT’s visibility with the business community. During a workshop with the client (representatives of EZK and SOLVIT Nederland) we discussed and fine-tuned the communication strategy. At that point, the creative agency came into the picture. Kwieker translated the communication strategy into a compelling campaign to improve SOLVIT’s visibility in the Netherlands. They developed various promising concepts based on the strategy. The concepts were pre-tested with groups of self-employed business targets and SMEs.
To activate the strategy we detailed an action plan with three recommendations. Firstly, SOLVIT should get the communication basics right. Secondly, the SOLVIT centre should implement a targeted campaign to stakeholders, trade associations and interest groups and increase its visibility through owned channels and search engine advertising. One of the key success factors was identified as structural attention to communications and the related budget and in-house staffing. The campaign concept created by Kwieker resulted in promising communication instruments for SOLVIT.
The challenge that SOLVIT faced was to realise its potential in practice and attract more business cases. At the heart of the strategy we developed were up-to-date market and stakeholder insights which formed the basis for a targeted campaign to businesses and entrepreneurs through their trade associations and umbrella organisations. The strategy and campaign are putting SOLVIT on the radar of the business community in the Netherlands and helping to increase the number of business cases submitted.