Multilingual Business Communication

April 4, 2009

Alfatechnics: beyond packaging

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, company, Elisa Van Peteghem, marketing communication, Marlène Bragard — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:00 pm

Nearly all the products you buy at your local supermarket are wrapped. Have you ever thought about how this is done? If you were going to set up your own company, you would have. Because in that case, you would be in need of Alfatechnics’ help. This Belgian company namely acts as an intermediary between manufacturers of packaging machines and companies in need of such machines.


Exactly how does Alfatechnics work? Benny Verbist, the manager, first sits down with the customer and helps him or her to determine which kind of machine their company needs. Then he contacts Alfatechnics’ partners who will not only deliver the machine but who will also adjust it to the client’s specific needs. Finally, the machine is integrated into the production line, taking care of the specificities of the production line.

Now why would a company use Alfatechnics’ help instead of ordering a machine themselves? It is because Alfatechnics offers them various benefits that they would have to do without otherwise. First of all, Mr. Verbist has years of experience in the field of packaging. He knows the market and he works closely together with the best producers of packing machines available. Secondly, as Alfatechnics cooperates with several producers, the clients get to choose from a larger number of machines. Finally, Alfatechnics invests in durable relationships with its clients and takes care of MRO.

Alfatechnics definitely goes beyond a regular packaging solution: the focus is on the client and his packaging needs are met in the best possible way.

Aagje Verbogen
Elisa Van Peteghem
Marlène Bragard


March 29, 2009

How to write brochures that work

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, internship — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:02 pm


Have you ever considered using brochures to communicate about your company? They do not have to be boring pieces of information. Written well, a brochure will help your company boost its results.

There are at least two benefits to having your own brochure. Firstly, you gain credibility as “people expect a ‘real’ company to have printed sales literature.” Secondly, it is timesaving: your customers can read it at their leisure, you add a personal touch, and it supports the other means of communication you use.

Brochures make a first impression of your company, so you want to do it right. How do you start? Firstly, you have to know the audience you address. What information will they be looking for? Write from their point of view and create different brochures for each target group. Secondly, you have to motivate your customers to pick up the brochure. You do this by designing an exciting cover (limiting it to the company name or product just does not work). Also include photos to draw interest and write short and simple texts. Thirdly, make sure you use a good structure, preferably mirroring the order of your customers’ questions. If the brochure is eight pages or longer, include a contents page. Finally, when describing your product, stress its benefits rather than its features.

The last thing to do is to make sure that your customers will buy your product or your service. How you do this? Simply by adding “contact us”. If you want to make your brochure a keeper, do not hesitate to alter the A4 shape into e.g. a football, if that is what you are selling. Providing tips and tricks also helps your brochure stand a chance.

Still not feeling up to it? Then contact an advertising copywriter or a company such as Writing Machine.

Aagje Verbogen

March 22, 2009

Belgian employers forbid Facebook

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:33 pm


Four in ten Belgian employers forbid their employees to access the social network site Facebook while they are on the job. This result was brought to light by a survey by the trade journal Smart Business Strategies, for which 250 employees and about twenty organisations were questioned. This banning of Facebook is part of the companies’ restricted Internet access policy: seven in ten Belgian employers set clear rules about the use of Internet or block certain sites. Only large companies used to bother about their staff’s digital whereabouts, but smaller companies are also starting to restrict Internet access. This growth is due to the economic crisis, which makes employers sensitive about their employees’ productivity: they are afraid that their staff wastes their time. Victims of this trend are Facebook and online gaming sites, but also erotic, music, torrent, gambling, and chatsites.

This banning of Facebook is not only a Belgian problem, nor is it a recent one. In 2007, the Trades Union Congress advised employers to let their staff continue using sites such as Facebook. According to the TUC, employers can forbid access to sites like this, but they warned them not to overreact and impose a total ban. “It is unreasonable for employers to try to stop staff from having a life outside work, just because they cannot get their heads around the technology,” TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said at the time. “Better to invest a little time in working out sensible conduct guidelines so that there do not need to be any nasty surprises for staff or employers.”

The TUC general secretary’s advice is reasonable enough, but in these times of economic turmoil our Belgian companies seem to be worrying more about money than about their employees’ work-life balance. And in this context, maybe that is reasonable too…

Aagje Verbogen

March 21, 2009

AIG apologizes for misusing government’s money

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, crisis communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:25 pm

In an open letter to the Washington post, the American insurance company AIG apologizes for the mistakes it has made. Edward Liddy, head of AIG and author of the letter admits that the company has used the government’s money to “reward” its top executives with large bonuses. The government aided the largest insurance company in the world four times, but the money was shamelessly abused: of the 170 billion dollars that the company received, 165 million was used to pay its executives.

This caused a lot of protest in America and President Barack Obama reprimanded the company. I think that we can all agree with Max Baucus, a Montanta Democrat, that “Millions lost their jobs; it’s an outrage that the people who somewhat caused this problem are now paying themselves bonuses.” Liddy thinks that the American people are right to be appalled and says that he feels the same. However, he claims not to be responsible for the exorbitant salaries.

The American Chancellor of the Exchequer, Timothy Geithner, has ordered AIG to repay the 165 million dollars, and rightly so. “We will impose on AIG a contractual commitment to pay the Treasury from the operations of the company the amount of the retention awards just paid,” Geithner said. If AIG refuses, the government will consider rising taxes to recuperate the bonuses.

aig1 edward-liddy1
Source: Metro n° 1866, Thursday 19 March 2009

Aagje Verbogen

February 28, 2009

Broadcast your news on the BBC

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, employee communication, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:39 pm

The BBC already receives several videos, e-mails and pictures by its viewers on a weekly basis. Now they have decided to up the ante: the BBC asks its viewers to send in more footage that is related to the news. They will then choose which items will be featured on a new show called “Your World News”, which will be presented by Siobhan Courtney and which will be broadcast every Friday on BBC World News. What is more, if you are lucky to capture a current news event, your video or pictures “may be used immediately on any BBC News outlet”. This is undoubtly a good marketing strategy, as it will allow the BBC to choose from more footage. However, the BBC is careful to add that “you should never put yourself in danger or break any laws” when you are attempting to record a news event.

Great as this may seem, there is a minor catch, though. The BBC’s terms and conditions mention that “you agree to grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide.” Still, they allow you to own the copyright and promise to publish your name on the website.

Siobhan Courtney

Siobhan Courtney

Aagje Verbogen

February 8, 2009

“Hello honey, the plane has just taken off.”

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:02 pm


Ryanair has found a new way to distinguish itself: thanks to a new technology that weakens the signal from mobile phones, its passengers will be able to make phonecalls on the plane. Everybody will be able to use text messages and send e-mails, but only six passengers will be allowed to call at one time. The facility will be tested this month on flights from Dublin and it will be available on 40 of Ryanair’s planes by the end of the summer. Although a fixed price has not been mentioned yet, it is estimated that the calls would cost about £2 a minute.

One can wonder whether this really is a good marketing strategy. For one, it might prevent other passengers from enjoying their flight. I know I would not be that happy sitting next to somebody who is incessantly talking into his phone. Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, is not bothered. He simply says: “If you want a quiet flight, use another airline. Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something.” Charlie Prior, a spokesman for OnAir –the company that designed the new technology- tries to soothe customers by saying that “The rates of the calls mean that passengers only use the service for two minutes at the very most.” He also adds that a customer survey has shown that passengers do not object to the facility and that the crew can switch it off so that you can only text and e-mail. Still, as O’Leary expects that the facility will increase revenues, I doubt whether the company will really prevent people from calling.

Aagje Verbogen

November 1, 2008

How to engage in corporate blogging

Filed under: Aagje Verbogen, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 4:44 pm

Many companies are entering the bloggosphere and are starting up corporate blogs. Before doing so yourself, it is wise to read up on some ground rules. A good way to start is by finding out what Nick Reynolds has learned by editing the BBC Internet blog. He writes that the first thing you have to do is to find out what is going on: gather information and motivate your employees to contribute to the company’s blog. However, you should be careful about what you publish as the information you find belongs to one of three categories. These are: “harmless, but still likely to make someone twitchy”, “true but embarrassing”, and “true but, if revealed, would really damage your organisation”. Finally, make your blog impartial and accurate, just like the BBC News.

There is one major problem you should be aware of, though. According to a survey conducted by Forrester, “consumers trust company blogs less than any other channel”. Josh Bernoff explains this result by stating that consumers do not trust companies in general. Still, it is something to take into account if you want to start a company blog. Therefore, Bernoff advises to write less about your company and its products, and to write more about your customers instead. Writing about their problems and solutions will help you gain their trust.

Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, explains the survey’s results by stating that corporate blogs are boring and are not credible as they are written in “corporate speak”. She also thinks that the survey is stating the obvious as it is known that people do not trust advertising. However, she calls for more research on what works and what does not for corporate blogs and on measuring their effectiveness.

Aagje Verbogen

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