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 In Marketing, Citymarketing
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5 place marketing differences between Belgium and The Netherlands [Battle]

It's time for a new battle between the low countries. You don’t necessarily have to go to the other side of the world to find big cultural differences. This statement will be proven by comparing two neighbouring countries with each other. When it comes to place marketing, there are a lot of differences between Belgium and the Netherlands. This article shows what those differences are and what they can learn from each other.

Citymarketing battle between the low countries

1. Separate entities

In Belgium, the communication or tourism department is often responsible for place marketing. In the neighbouring country, there are usually separate entities that are responsible for the marketing of their city. Maastricht Marketing and Marketing Groningen are two examples of a Dutch entity that focuses completely on place marketing. Usually, in an entity a different marketer takes care of the marketing for a target group.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, Dutch cities have the advantage that they have a service that is constantly working on its branding and can react quickly to the competition.

On the other hand, in Belgium, it is interesting that people with a lot of knowledge about culture can organise their own campaigns. The disadvantage of this method is that those departments who organize it don’t have a lot of time and cannot, like the entities in The Netherlands, fully concentrate on place marketing.

Due to the fact that Dutch cities are able to focus more on place marketing, they have won the first battle.

Belgium: 0

The Netherlands: 1

2. Place marketing events

Every year, the Nationaal Congres Citymarketing (means: National Congress for Place Marketing) is organised in the Netherlands. An event entirely dedicated to place marketing.

A lot of cities and experts come together to talk about place marketing and to exchange ideas. This is one of the best sources of inspiration for place marketeers that strengthens the campaigns of cities. The event also awards a prize to the best campaign.

This recognition is the ultimate place marketing. As you can see, it is a very nice event that can produce interesting results. How cool would it be if a similar event was organised in Belgium? This would certainly improve the quality of the Belgian campaigns.

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The Netherlands has won the second battle since it is has created a large network for place marketeers to improve place marketing in the country.

Belgium: 0

The Netherlands: 2

 

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 3. Jargon

Citymarketing (means: place marketing) is a concept invented by the Dutch. The term ‘city marketing’ can also be used in English but ‘citymarketing’ written like this, is a completely Dutch word. Not so long after the invention of this word, a lot of other words followed like city marketeer (means: place marketeer), stadspromotie (means: place promotion) en stadsmarketing (means: place marketing).

In Belgium, the term 'city marketing' is more commonly known as 'centre management', which is part of place marketing. Centre management focuses on the commercial possibilities of a city. For example, promoting local shopping. Furthermore, some Belgian cities might know a word like ‘stadsmarketing’ (means: place marketing).

When it comes to jargon, Belgium can still learn a lot of new words from its northern neighbours. Nor do Belgian cities yet understand the full meaning of place marketing. It goes beyond centre management, which mainly focuses on the local merchant, shopping and the hospitality industry.

Belgium: 0

The Netherlands: 3

4. Dealing with competitors

Even the smallest city in The Netherlands actively uses place marketing. Due to a lot of competition between cities in Holland, there is a need to spread a unique identity. This ensures that Dutch cities always try to be original and come up with creative campaigns.

In Belgium, the competition begins to increase. As a result, many cities realise that it is time to focus on place marketing. Any Belgian city that is currently intensively involved in place marketing will have a major competitive advantage. Building an image takes more than one single day.

Since there is a lot of competition in the Netherlands, the consequences also transcend national borders. As a result, Dutch cities don’t only compete with each other but also with Flemish cities.

For example, the Dutch city of Breda saw an opportunity in the fact that the Belgians have a holiday on the first of May. They had set up a targeted city marketing campaign to attract as many Belgian shoppers as possible to the Netherlands. The result was that the local merchants were happy with the increase of shoppers.

As you can see, it is important to start actively using place marketing, because competition is in every corner! We have written 7 tips to use place marketing to help you.

Belgium: 0

The Netherlands: 4

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5. Opportunities

Since the Dutch cities have a lot of experience in place marketing, it is becoming more and more difficult to put your city in the spotlights. This is the big challenge Dutch cities face. How are they supposed to find a unique position for their city in a 'market' where so many competitors are using the same tool.

On the other hand, in Belgium place marketing is an opportunity for any Flemish city or municipality. Currently, there are a few Flemish cities that are using this tool but in comparison with the Netherlands, there is still a lot of things to improve. This means that there are still a lot of opportunities for cities and municipalities. Time to begin!

Since Belgium will be able to grow in place marketing, they have earned their first point. We expect that, in the long term, every Flemish city will have to and will actively engage in place marketing.

Belgium: 1

The Netherlands: 4

In a nutshell:

  • In the Netherlands, place marketing is organised in separate entities.
  • The Netherlands organises the annual National Congress on Place Marketing, which is the network event for the sector.
  • In terms of jargon, the Flemish cities can learn a lot from their neighbours.
  • Dutch cities compete with each other but also with Flemish cities.
  • Since Flanders is lagging behind, it will grow rapidly.

Are you a Dutch city and looking for new creative ideas for your campaign? Or are you a Flemish city and would you like to work intensively on place marketing? Contact one of our account managers to discover the possibilities with merchandise.

Merchandise is one of the latest trends where ambassadors are created. It's the perfect way to show that you're proud of your city and it's also a great conversation starter. In the Netherlands, merchandise is already being used. In Flanders, there are a few cities who have their own merchandise such as Ostend, Roeselare, Knokke and Bruges.

The latest place marketing trends

Discover below the latest place marketing trends to boost your game. 

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