Zeljko Ratkovic managing partner at the brand.david agency

Photo: CEO Zeljko Ratkovic

We are delighted to launch our new B & C Zine with an interview with one of our oldest customers, Zeljko Ratkovic, managing partner at the brand.david agency!

Loyal customers, long-term relationships based on trust, shared growth … … who does not dream of such good fortune?
Our continuous collaboration has so far endured for nearly 25 years and extends from the linguistic tweaking and creative fine-tuning of headers and slogans to weighty financial reports.
And yes, our cooperation began in the early years of dialog marketing.

When companies discovered the customer as an individual …

My father remembers a time when dialog marketing was on everyone’s lips. From where we stand today, this would appear to hark back to another world age cycle. Could you tell us a bit about dialog marketing from today’s perspective? 

ZR: Dialog marketing has undergone an exciting process of development. As the age of mass marketing drew to a close, marketing departments suddenly discovered the customer as an individual. Given the overbearing influence of sales considerations and departments, the newly developed instrument was referred to as “direct marketing”. In those days, the concept comprised anything and everything that had the potential to generate a response, from coupons and reply cards to fax and phone numbers. Well, novelties generally have a good run that lasts for a while, until customers had had enough of “silent selling”.

You see, neither mass communication nor direct marketing were geared towards understanding the customer and his or her needs – it was all just sell, sell, sell, just a one-way street, so to speak.

 

As customers paid less and less heed to their efforts, brands attempted to interact with the buyers of their goods – and so dialog marketing was born. For the first time, the two sides began to enter into a mutual relationship and a genuine dialog arose. Today, there are plenty to means available by which to enter into a dialog with potential customers, or indeed to remain in close contact with existing clients. In the digital field in particular, there are a variety of instruments, tools and platforms that enable a fast and efficient exchange of ideas. Because nowadays brands must do a great deal more than simply wave price tickets in the air if they wish to acquire self-confident customers.

Ultimately, brands and businesses are much like people: Those who fail to form relationships will find themselves lacking friends and short on love.

 

When you look back on your company’s long history, what were the key elements that ensured your success, and what advice would you have for young entrepreneurs setting up in business and aiming to gain a foothold in this sector?

ZR: Every successful business is founded on a mixture of courage, ideas and an overriding passion.

Those who lack inner fire and an absolute conviction that they are doing the right thing will look in vain for success.

On a day to day basis, the ability to function as a team plays a decisive role. In marketing or at communications agencies, there are countless pieces of information to be collated and channeled intelligently – around the clock. And that means coordinating various teams and securing their commitment to a brand or a campaign. All too often, several at the same time.

Founders setting up a business should possess the ability to grasp situations rapidly, along with a talent for getting to the heart of matters – but also a sound measure of social competence.

Moreover, it is naturally essential to be a master par excellence of the technicalities of your chosen field, whether that be creation, project management, strategy, media, digital, or something completely different. Besides technical qualifications, it is ultimately the ability to play as a team that makes the difference, both internally and in interaction with the customer. One of the decisive tasks for an entrepreneur in the communications sector is to put the perfect team together for the job at hand, to inspire and to support the team with all the necessary information. Get that right, and success will follow automatically.


– Zeljko Ratkovic –

ZELJKO RATKOVIC is managing partner at the brand.david agency in Munich. Having earned degrees in oenology and communications, his previous career included stints as a director of consultancy at Rempen & Partner in Munich and CEO of the events agency brandarena. Moreover, he also taught at the BAW Munich.

BRAND.DAVID is an agency that specializes in making brands unmistakable, unmissable and irresistible. With target-oriented strategies, well thought-out concepts and excellent implementation, we establish communication and create identities that reach out by the shortest route to the hearts and minds of the target group.