Voja Žanetić: When things are leaking in marketing…

Marketing differs from other professions in that you are constantly facing a challenge, that you are constantly at the beginning of something

How I started? My financial potential was contained in a sum of 1,300 DM (Deutsch Marks). I remember those 1,300 DM well. I did not dare buy a computer even, but borrowed it. And the business space was given me by the friend that had “pushed” me into all this.

My lifelong partner Jelisaveta and I started the business, and my additional choice that the business is marketing was due to the great knowledge and experience which is in Serbian advertising attached to the nickname Maca and surname Bijelić. That was a great initial prop.

The first day of our business was by no means promising: we spent it carrying buckets of water. For, it was raining, and it turned out that the office ceiling was leaky.

Now, after seven years, we have grown into a marketing agency with 40 people and our ambition is to stabilize the position we already occupy, and further plans depend entirely on the agreement with my lifelong and business partner, who is at the same time my consultant in all decisions.

In the meantime, I always comfort myself that, theoretically, a return to journalism is always an option. Business is simply like that: when things are flourishing, you should be prepared for the option that tomorrow already you may “go bust”. I have met a man who had gone bankrupt nine times…

That was the answer of Voja Žanetić, a journalist, screen writer, columnist, analyst, marketing expert and businessman- entrepreneur in the interview for Magazin Business, to our question about the increasingly serious business he has been engaged in as the leader of the “Mozaik“ Agency (MOSAIC). In Serbia, in the past few years, business is experiencing a great expansion, competition is becoming ever greater, but it seems that everyone is managing to find their own place.

How profitable is marketing in Serbia?

– There are much, much more profitable businesses. Marketing gained the status of a serious business already at the beginning of the 90s, that is. Perhaps a few years earlier. A great development indeed took place in the last 5-6 years and this area show that things in Serbia are changing. What perhaps sets marketing apart from other professions is that you are constantly faced with a challenge, that you are constantly beginning all over again.

The entire philosophy of selling is connected with the act of advertising. You cannot produce and not advertise. It goes without saying that the buyer should be informed about where and what he/she should buy, and how much it costs in the same way that there is no road without a signpost, because no one would know where they were going.

Do “cartels” function in the field of marketing? How do you provide clients?

– References bring clients. The test of that reference comes very soon, because the results in this business are seen right away and the evaluation of the person responsible for success or failure is entirely simple. You are daily put to a test. It is not the most important thing to gain the targeted client, but to keep him/her. It is worse to lose the client than never to have started with that client.

There is no concentration of market in our sector, that is, it has not happened so far. I am convinced that it will not happen, because, on the one hand, there is great competition between the advertising agencies themselves, and on the other hand, no bigger company entrusts a single agency the whole business. Precisely in order not to find themselves in a subordinate position, smarter companies share out their requests between a number of agencies, the average number is four to five.

For example, even though we are a medium-sized agency, we do a quite a few jobs for “Delta”, which is a huge challenge, having in mind that we are dealing with a company with an extremely fast development. To be in the proximity of that system means to accept jobs that are difficult, which require a lot of patience, for which a lot of work has to be done.

With the commencement of transition numerous foreign marketing agencies have arrived, that is, numerous agencies with authorship rights of strong European and world companies have been formed?

– That is good. Competition can only bring quality, and foreign authorship rights bring quality founded on a huge international and global experience. Now in Serbia there is room for all those who know how and want to work, and, what is fundamental, who want to learn. I expect that competition is yet to become stronger on this market. That tempo will be dictated, above all, the requests of our clients, and they in turn depend on country development, the size of market, purchasing power…. Things can and must get only better. That I believe and for that we are preparing ourselves.

How much has the fact that you stepped into the marketing trade from the area of journalism and dramaturgy helped you?

– The experience of putting the elements together on paper helped, but not much. When you are writing something, you are dealing with people you yourself have created and you are the author of a drama or comedy. What is the difficulty with business, and the reason why I really “take my hat off” to any one who has made something in that area, is that in the real world you are the participant in something that for the greatest part depends on you not making it a tragedy. We are far away from the ideals created in literature: when we are funny, we are much funnier that the ideals created in comedy, and when we are not, then we are by far more tragic than the ideals created in the tragedy.

What is fascinating for me is the spirit of entrepreneurship created in Serbia. That amount of energy can rarely be seen anywhere today. We have many people who started completely on their own and have made a huge success. Who have made something, have had energy, created, without being backed up by a family background, in the sense that they inherited the business from previous generations. Much can be learned from those people.

Can that also be viewed from another angle?

– I suppose that you think that some of them have created it by means which it is considered should undergo lustration. On the other hand, when you consider those four big American families, all they created, they got due to the prohibition and to a small extent to oil monopolies. The laws of capital are evidently such that the concentration of capital in the history of every state takes place in the ways that are not socially just and at the moments which do not create equal chances for everyone.

 That can also be regarded as a competition in which someone was lucky and “had a stomach” to participate, and someone did not. And when you look at it a little bit more closely, the competition is, under the same rules, still going on. It is like running without sounding the pistol at the starting position and without a clearly demarcated finishing line. And whoever wins should let the rest know.

How do you see marketing as a profession in Serbia today compared to what that profession is in Europe?

– Our primary problem, and that goes for all fields of activity in this country, is that when we compare ourselves, we look at the wrong side. For we should compare ourselves with the surrounding countries who used to be far behind us and now they are in front of us to a great extent. I am preparing myself to go to Romania and Bulgaria and learn something. And perhaps I will go to Albania on a tour of the same kind- to gain knowledge. Between the colleagues from Croatia and me there is quite a big time gap, that each time I go there I have to make up for by looking at the state of their market in this sector and at how they specialized for certain areas into which we have not even started entering because we have neither the money nor market needs for big and expensive specializations.

So what is your message after your experience in business so far?

We must realize that we are no longer a 20 million people market and that we have to act in accordance with reality and afterwards try to manage on the regional market. To try to occupy a good position in the regional market and at the same time do not hope that that position will be among the top five in any sector. To get back to my sector: if there was a league of marketing agencies in the Balkans “Mozaik” would probably be a third league and that barely, and hardly anyone from Serbia would make it to the first league. That is, even if he managed to “sneak into” it, it is unlikely that he would be able to play in it.

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