What’s Hot and What’s Not for 2013?

Knowing what is going to be big in the coming year will make all the difference to your marketing strategy: where your customers hangout, what kind of devices they use and where their points of reference are crucial.

What’s Hot

Instagram – once the privacy concerns have been ironed out, this is the social networking vehicle for people who are more visual than textural. As Pinterest showed in 2012, visual has a strong pulling power.

Interest-based social networking – There’s no denying the triumvirate of

thumb it

Thumbs up or down ?

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will take some toppling, but new guns on the street like Thumb are trying a different tack: networking based around people’s interests rather than social hubs. Thumb offers mobile users the ability to ask each for an opinion. That could be an opinion on what clothes to buy, whether a new piece of music hits the right note, or whether a piece of writing is good enough to submit to a lecturer.

The Tablet – It’s been a fierce battle between the tablet makers. Apple still reins supreme, with Google, Samsung, and Amazon currently fighting for second place. Yet it is the idea of the tablet itself that has won the hearts of millions of people around the globe. Understanding how to tap into this market is key to retaining old customers and winning new ones.

Google Play – It’s been a long time in the making, and as with most things Google, it has had its teething problems. However, this will be Google Play’s year. Rolling out across the world it will become the real competition to iTunes. For app developers, musicians and filmmakers, getting involved in Play has to be on this year’s to-do list.

Personal Archiving – It’s barely made a dent yet in the collective psyche, yet personal digital archiving will become an important buzz-word in 2013. Personal archiving and curation has started on individual sites, but the big question is how will people be able to collect their digital lives into one place?

 

What’s Not

QR Codes – Although it still has its place in the world, QR Codes have been ahead of their time for too long. It may take another two years before the full versatility of a QR Code is fully appreciated by the general public.

Apple Maps – by the end of 2012 Apple still hadn’t sorted out their maps and most iPhone users have already downloaded Google Maps. It is one failure Apple may never fully recover from.

Newspapers – The old printed format is dying, and has been doing so for some years. Disposable news in the form of daily newspapers has been slowly shifting towards the web. With the rise of the tablet it will be precious few that see the point of buying a newspaper on a daily basis, when they can simply download it onto their tablet to read on their daily commute.

What are your thoughts? What is going to be hot in marketing for the next 12 months?


Overwhelmingly, the biggest marketing trend in 2013 will be the increased use of mobile phones, with technology in general, coming a close second.

Already we are seeing how smart phones are changing the way in which people are using the internet. You are more likely to find a young person watching YouTube on their phones, than on their computers – that is if they even have a pc! It’s more likely to be a tablet nowadays.

So my marketing predictions for 2013 are:

Mobile payments

Mastercard, Visa, and the major banks have come together with mobile phone manufacturers to develop phones that can be used to pay at the checkout. This very cool piece of tech means you just swipe the phone over the terminal in the shop and the amount is deducted from a predetermined credit card. There is also the ability to have a pre-set limit. A pretty important step forward for parents wanting to give their teenage children control over their finances – while importantly keeping it limited to prevent spending spiralling out of control.

Mobile payment on public transport

It will become commonplace across Dubai to see people using their mobile phones to pay for their journeys on public transport. This was announced by the roads and Transport Authority (RTA) last October. Replacing the Nol card, but not the Nol system, users will be able to top up their Nol accounts electronically and view their balances on their phones.

Mobile marketing

With more and more people accessing the internet through their mobiles, the mobile ad market share will increase. Recent research suggests that mobile phone ads are noticed by over half of people using a smart phone to look at a website. This certainly gives advertisers food for thought.

Responsive design

The rise of mobile Internet has meant website developers have had to be far cleverer in how they design sites. There is still a bit of confusion in how to move forward. Does the customer want an app, a mobile site and a desktop site designing? Responsive design is going some way to answer this. It is a type of web design that allows one design process to be in charge of how the desktop and mobile site will look. How well it will cope with large ecommerce sites will be interesting to see.

Customers as the audience

There is no denying that search engine optimisation has its place. However, the days of leaning completely on SEO to bring in customers are numbered. The big companies are already well on their way to creating more in-depth, useful and entertaining content for their sites. This is about seeing people not as potential customers, but as an audience, eager to come to the site again and again to view the next chapter of the story, win competitions and play new games. It’s an expensive route to take and smaller businesses have their work cut out finding a way to compete on this level.

Technology you wear

Yes I know, this one shows up from time to time, but hasn’t yet filtered down to the street. Wearable technology will be making a dent in the general consciousness. Now some celebs are already wearing clothes with LEDs displaying their twitter feed and Facebook status. However as these become more well known, designers will hopefully see the opportunity to do something really interesting with the clothes.

What do you think will be the top trends in marketing for 2013 in Dubai?

There is a tendency to use buzzwords when gathering around the board room table from Dubai to New York, but when you use crowdfund, freemium, big data, gamification, transmedia, ecosystem, mission critical, blue-sky thinking, and win/ win, are you signalling you are ahead of the pack, or is your terminology due for an overhaul?

paris hilton dubai

Are you the barometer of what's hot or not in Dubai ?

Or does the linguistic landscape of sales buzzwords leave you asking: “why can’t they just talk in plain language?” Whether you like them or not, buzzwords are used in the workplace and you do need to know what they mean and whether to use them or avoid them.

Hot:

SaaS – Software as a Service is software and data accessed through a web browser, rather than being stored locally.

Transmedia – A narrative told through interconnected content delivered across different mediums.

Freemium – free software, games, that has a premium element for advanced features and functionality.

Big Data – highly complex, huge data sets (ranging from a few terabytes to petabytes) requiring specialised data management tools.

Osmosis Marketing – Using blogging, Twitter and other social media vehicles rather than traditional marketing to make a brand successful.

Digital Nomads – People who use wireless technology so they don’t need an office.

Crowdfund – sites such as Kickstarter where anyone can invest in your idea.

Gamification – A way of making boring tasks, like filling in questionnaires, more like a game.

Social Looping – growing the social interconnectivity of yourself, your business, brand or product.

Digital Curation – although primarily used in academia, businesses are beginning to curate data by preserving and making accessible important digital assets.

Sense check – when a project outsider looks at marketing collateral to ensure it actually makes sense to a normal person.

Content marketing – using content on websites and social media vehicles to market a brand, product or service.

Not:

Ecosystem – a buzzword banned in many marketing agencies, the ecosystem is the environment that a particular brand exists in.

Blue Sky thinking – same as out of the box, usually impractical ideas and heavily overused.

Next Generation – simple… means you’ve improved an existing product.

Innovation – unless you have genuinely invented something new, don’t use innovation, innovative, or innovating.

Win/Win – although there is a need to find a mutually beneficial point in negotiations, it isn’t always possible. So be mindful of the situation so as not to look like a buzzword addict, rather than an honest salesperson.

Result-orientated, customer orientated – well, aren’t all businesses results and customer orientated?

Brand Equity – customer perception of your brand gives it a certain value.

World Class – not unless you really, really are world class should you use this term.

Solutioning – It means to create a solution, and if you want to say create a solution, then say that, not solutioning.

Authentic – overuse has turned this, ironically, into a subtle clue that something is fake.

Undeniably, marketing buzzwords will always exist, new ones replacing the old at regular intervals. But, if you overuse buzzwords in your marketing material you will alienate the very people you are trying to reach out to. Plain, simple language will win most people over. Save the buzzwords for when they will really create an impact, and make sure you know as many as possible for the time your colleague in Dubai suggests a discreet game of buzzword bingo at the next industry seminar you attend.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, staying within your comfort zone. Easy it may be, but to market to your Dubai customers effectively, sticking to old formulas could be stopping you bringing in new business, or making more out of the relationships you already have.

Talking is good, Listening is better

The major mistakes in B2B marketing isn’t just a Dubai issue, it is a problem that spans the globe. Companies know their products inside out, but don’t know their customer’s business as well. Knowing your product is important, but not knowing what your customer’s business is, means you don’t know how your product will really help them.

Listening to them, researching their markets fully, means you can see your own products through their eyes. This is when you really start to appreciate why your product is the solution they need. And if you find it isn’t, you can start developing better products to meet their needs more effectively.

Articulate your Value Proposition

Having listened to your customer, you now know what they want. Do you know how to sell that back to them with your product? You’re not just selling this idea to them; you are selling it to their customers as well. Put together a sharp message that shows how you are not only selling something they need, but also something their customer needs, and you are showing you care about their supply chain.

If you can show how the end customer benefits, you are well on your way to selling the idea to your customer.

Death by PowerPoint

Favoured by the smallest one-man band to the biggest global leaders in business, PowerPoint is a great tool for selling a new product. But more often than not, the customer isn’t engaged by your presentation.

Creating a PowerPoint that sells means paring down what’s on screen to the absolute takeaway information. Think about the images, do they really sell your product? Are they the same pictures you’ve been using for years? Don’t just have the product on its own, show it in use. Look hard at the text, how many bullet points do you need?

destination london game

Destination London was rejected in Dragons den due to a poor presentation but has gone on to be a bestseller spawning spin offs.

Your presentation is there to inspire, you are putting on a show. Don’t leave the writing of the presentation to the salesman. Get the best writer you have, or can afford to bring in, to write it.

Harness the Power of the Web

Discover more about a company and how they tick by using the web. Not only can you find out about their business from their website, looking up individuals on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, will give you a more rounded idea about who they are. Understanding people is the first step in creating a better working relationship.

On the flip side, the web is the place to get your products out into the public eye. Use social media to build a buzz about your products and services. Choose wisely before you start: you wouldn’t advertise your accountancy services at a rock concert, so consider every social media vehicle as carefully.

There is no excuse for coasting along with old marketing habits. Think of the internet as a tool. Not only can you find out more about your customers, reach out to them in new and exciting ways, your Dubai marketing team can find the latest trends in marketing and implement them on your home turf.

magrudy's bag

Magrudy's, an institution in Dubai has a whole bag of tricks to keep their customers happy and coming back

Making a person love your brand is the way forward in relationship marketing whether you own a little tech store in Dubai, or are running the sales and marketing team of a massive multinational.

Relationship marketing has evolved from the recognition that companies need to retain customers. It is significantly cheaper to sell to someone who has already bought from you, than to bring in new customers.

So what are the key building blocks for relationship marketing?

Focus Groups

Get people in to tell you what they really think about your product or service. You may be surprised by the results.

Questionnaires & Online Surveys

Again, a great way to find out what people really think about your company. But take care with your questions: it is easy to weight them so the answers are favourable. An online survey is a great way of reaching your customers who wouldn’t normally stop in the street or store.

Mystery Shoppers

The staple way of finding out how people in your company perform when they think nobody important is around. Find out exactly how good your customer support in-store and online really is.

Loyalty Cards

Now this one may have reached the end of it’s lifespan – just how many loyalty cards can one person hold in their wallet? But at least giving people the option of having one, shows you are willing to give them something extra if they come back enough times.

Social Network

If your company isn’t on at least one social networking site, first of all you should be calling a meeting to find out why. Every single major company in the world is engaging daily with their customers on at least one of the major networking vehicles: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and blogs.

And they all intertwine. One feeds naturally into another. With your Twitter feed you can flag up new activity on your blog, the latest product launch on YouTube, a competition on Facebook, or your latest employee through LinkedIn. Social Networking creates it’s own loops and circles where your customers will find their own interest point to enter into your company’s online activity.

Rewards

Now we are all familiar with the voucher system that gives something back to your customers. It still works but the method of delivery is now changing: the email voucher is gaining ground on the cut out magazine voucher. By making it possible for customers to spend the email voucher in stores as well as online cuts your paper and posting costs as well as making it easier for the customer to use it. And 20% off a dress they’ve been hankering after since the beginning of the season is going to give them a warm feeling when they buy it.

Social Responsibility

Getting involved in local charities is not just about getting your name in different venues from normal. This element of relationship management is, in many respects, the one that is more fraught than any other: your company could easily be perceived as purely wanting to have, have, have, when what you want to show is how you can give, give, give.  Get it wrong and you’ll spend a lot of money clawing back your reputation. Get it right and everyone wins. Whether it is simply becoming a key sponsor in a local charity or creating a Foundation that helps give opportunities to young people in your area, it is important that your company gives support locally.

Entertain them

The fun part of advertising and marketing is the entertainment factor. And with so many ways available now and with the cost of entry so low, get out there and make a video, animate your widget, create a circus show outside the store, make a song, create your own paper, ebook, magazine… the only limit is your imagination, oh and budget, of course.

Your sales and marketing team in Dubai need to get round the table once a week and take a good look at what is being done to enhance the customer’s experience of your service.

Pinterest has been around for less than two years, yet it has become the fastest website in history to break 10million unique visitors. And because the majority of users are women, for sales and marketing teams in Dubai it provides an ideal opportunity to reach out to their target audience in a fresh way.

For a website that is still in an open beta stage, the phenomenal 11 million total visits per week in December 2011, clearly shows why this zero to hero site grabbed the best startup of 2011 by TechCrunch (one of the world’s foremost technology news and analysis websites).

The speed at which Pinterest has become so popular is due, in part to the relaxed attitude to money taken by the founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp. The aim is to create a popular platform before considering how to monetize it. And the venture capital companies that have so far invested $37m in Pinterest, seem willing to wait as well.

One of the main investors is Bessemer Venture Partners. Jeremy Levine, of Bessemer, said recently that they had been looking for “a user-generated content media property around products” for over six years and when they came across Pinterest in 2011, it hit a cord with them immediately.

So at what point does this free website make the kind of money that attracts millions of investment? Well look to Facebook and Google for the answer. Both sites provide huge amounts of free content, and are able to heavily monetize a small percentage of that content.

Pinterest, Levine says, is not at the stage of thinking about monetizing it, but when the moment comes, be sure that it will do so very profitably indeed.

So, you may be thinking, how does my company in Dubai use Pinterest from a marketing point of view? Well the most common way used as the moment is the competition format.

cool romance pinterest

Get you nails on Orly's goodie bag!

One such competition is being run by the nail polish brand Orly. The prize is a swag bag of Orly products, and to enter people have to create a Pinterest board titled ‘My Cool Romance’. By asking people to enter on Pinterest, Orly are just one of hundreds of companies wholeheartedly embracing the zeitgeist.

Copyright issues still dog the site as some people don’t know whether what they are allowed to pin other people’s work to the site. However, Pinterest get around this problem by working with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, an act designed to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals. They also have an etiquette that asks users to credit their sources. Which in the case of companies running competitions works very much in their favour.

Because it is populated primarily by women, (97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women), it provides an ideal platform for companies to talk to a female audience in an environment they have self-advocated. Get your offering right and it will become an interesting component of the fast moving social media marketing landscape.

There is no doubt that, this year, Pinterest is the next big thing. Will it continue to hold its position as one of the top ten social media vehicles, or will it go the route of MySpace? Whatever the answer, at this time the question for your marketing department in Dubai is not when should we engage, but rather how quickly can we engage?

 

Sources:

http://www.sirenasparklestar.com/2012/03/orly-launches-pinterest-contest-today.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest

http://www.fastcompany.com/1816870/bessemer-ventures-why-we-invested-in-pinterest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/shortcuts/2012/feb/27/pinterest-a-man-free-zone

As a Dubai marketing team do you want your customers and clients to Like you, or to +1 you?

google plus one

Google plus one..are you on the list?

Well everyone likes a Like and up until six months ago, nobody had seen the +1 button on websites. Even as this little button slowly began appearing, nobody really took much notice. But when the world’s biggest search engine dives headfirst into social media, best take a step back and re-evaluate your position.

Until Google entered the social media landscape in June 2011, there were five social media vehicles for companies to use to increase search engine optimisation. These were Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs.

There are hundreds of other different vehicles that can be used to increase your Dubai business profile in social media circles, yet only recently have businesses really taken Google+ seriously.

But that is now changing. Not because it is necessarily where your customers will hang out. More so because Google wants to make Google+ successful and is giving its use higher rankings in searches. And it is this particular side of Google+ that makes it a necessary component of your company’s social media strategy.

If Google is willing to place greater emphasis on those who are using 1+ button on their sites, it is the smart marketer in Dubai that gets her company profile up and running as soon as possible. We all know Google changes its search engine algorithm constantly, but if they want to push Google+, then it could well be that little button will weight your company more favourably in searches.

At the moment there aren’t a huge amount of people on Google+ who would be considered natural customers, but as nobody is sure how Google+ will progress, far better to have some presence now, rather than joining the party later.

Facebook is a different beast entirely to Google+ and when you are looking at how best to improve the social media marketing for your business, including both is a better bet than choosing one over the other.

Branding of Facebook pages has become necessary to the extent that some businesses are actually ditching their traditional websites and concentrating on what is termed F-Commerce, Facebook Commerce.

The reason behind this shift is the same as the reason markets and malls exist. That is, be where your customers can easily find you. If all your customers are on Facebook, why make them go off site to discover what you can offer them.

limahl

Do you "love plus one?"

Facebook is more than just a light site (sorry Google+ but so far so true) for professionals and business people to play around in. Facebook is a global economic, social, and political force. According to Facebook’s most recent figures, it adds an estimated €15.3 billion to the European economy. There is a panel discussion on the Economic Impact of Revolutions in the Middle East, which has its events page on Facebook. And just about everyone on the planet keeps up with friends and family through their personal profiles.

It’ll be a long time before Google+ comes anywhere close to the popularity of Facebook. At the moment it has a problem with people and companies not being entirely sure what it does and what it will become.

But while Google+ goes through its identity crisis, give your Dubai business a search engine boost by creating a profile and putting  +1 on every page of your website.

Sources:

Facebook Newsroom

http://newsroom.fb.com/

Social Commerce Today

http://socialcommercetoday.com/uk-pub-chain-ditches-web-for-facebook-traffic-up-2000-percent/

Google Search Engine

http://www.google.ae  or http://www.google.com

Star gazing

Want to see stars in Dubai? Download a star gazing app !

Apps are not just profile raisers, they can increase sales when you consider them part of your marketing mix in Dubai.

If you’ve visited the Apple website recently you can’t fail to have noticed their 25 Billion App download Countdown. From the ever-popular Angry Birds to the incredibly useful Dubai Travel Guide, there truly is an app for everything.

Which is why every company, regardless of whether they are a SME or international corporation should be considering the development of an app as a marketing tool for their business.

Undeniably it can be expensive to develop apps for businesses, not only because of the time involved, but also because of the different software packages required to publish on different platforms. However, since the skill sets of graphic designers, programmers and software developers have improved dramatically over the last four years, the costs have come down somewhat.

In 2010, an American company, Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store, spent $20,000 on creating an app that gave Christmas decorating tips. The owners of the store, based in Texas, viewed this cost as part of their marketing budget and were very pleased with the results: “We have gained (customers) and have the potential to gain more.” They said in an interview with Small Business Computing.

And this is what lies at the heart of developing a company app: it is a marketing tool that can gain you more customers and re-engage old customers who may have forgotten about your business and what it can do for them.

Although the costs have come down, there are app development companies offering app development for as little as $2,000 now, you have to ensure that you know what you want from the outset. Only by having a clear idea at the beginning can you keep a lid on the costs of developing your company’s app.

Another consideration is your target market. Despite the fact that very loose estimates put Blackberry apps at around 30,000, a company who sells high-end business software in Dubai, will need an app that can be used by Blackberry users as well as iPhone users. An app that isn’t available on Blackberry is going to miss a chunk of your potential customer base.

And don’t be seduced by the thought of making money out of selling the app. Only rare games such as Angry Birds bring in the big bucks and they required a huge investment of over $1m to get the return you see today.

Think of developing your app in the same way as the owners of Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store did. By providing a really neat service showing their customers how to decorate a Christmas tree they provided a fun and useful app.

An app that is downloaded and then languishes on the home screen without ever being used is a waste of money. Consider your business and your customers, what is going to be a big benefit for them and for you?

* In December 2011, Apple announced there were over 500,000 apps available to download. It is impossible to get exact number of apps available on the other major platforms such as Microsoft, Blackberry and Android, however approximate estimates put them as follows:

Apple – 500,000

Android – 200,000

Windows – 40,000

Blackberry – 30,000

Sources:

Small Business Computing – http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/emarketing/article.php/3930736/How-Apps-Can-Help-Market-Your-Business-Increase-Sales.htm

It stands to reason that a market research project for a cosmetics company in Dubai should target people who are based in Dubai. However, finding the correct people is key to a successful research campaign.

Fortunately a city the size of Dubai has what is called the ‘accessible population’, a term reflecting the high number of people living and working in an urban environment.

There are a myriad of ways to talk to people and get them to participate in your market research project. Firstly, though, it is important to create a precise list of the points you want to be answered. By keeping the focus at this initial stage, it makes it far easier to know the type of person you need to ensure your market research is productive.

It is also necessary, at the beginning of a new brief, to outline the budget constraints on the project. It is ineffective to hire expensive equipment for the rather useful computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), if there is nothing left in the pot to pay researchers to go out into the street with the computers.

Now armed with a budget and a firm idea of what you, or your client, specifically want clarifying from the market research, you can identify the types of people required to achieve optimum conclusions and recommendations.

The people you need to talk to will depend entirely on the product or services being researched. If we take the example of a market research project for a cosmetics company based in the centre of Dubai, historical data into this industry will give some basic lines along which to find the target respondents.

lip gloss

Wasabi lip balm anyone? Is this going to be a bestseller in Dubai? Pretty nifty if you like sushi...

Finding your participants will depend on the initial questions the company requires answering. So if our cosmetics company is developing a new flavoured lip-gloss, it may want to know what flavours are the most popular and which are the most unpopular. Choose the wrong range of flavours and the lip-gloss will fail in the stores.

In this instance the target market is going to be young women and teenage girls. And the likely places the market researchers will find their target participants are hubs of activity such as:- the Mall of the Emirates; Safa park; the beach at the weekend; university campuses ; the business district during the week or the eternal favourite of market researchers- the supermarket.

Successful market research does give an organisation a highly competitive edge. It can change the advertising approach; it also can lead to the development of products and services more finely tuned to what customers actually want. Far better to find out what consumers like and don’t like at the beginning of product development, rather than after huge amounts of money and resources have been ploughed into it.

But it is not always obvious which methodologies are going to be most suitable for each campaign, which is why The Marketing Research and Intelligence course, from the Institute of Sales and Marketing, Dubai, gives your business the tools to make the best market research decisions for your company. More information on these marketing courses can be found here: http://18.130.2.180/courses/market-research/index.php

Whether you are a Dubai based company selling a local service or products worldwide, you will be using a website either to sell directly or use an online brochure. Which means you’ll need a digital copywriter alongside your web design team.

As the world of business turns on the Internet these days, you cannot afford to place your trust in a traditional copywriter with no experience of working in the digital environment. Unless you are a marketing company willing to teach someone on the job, there are too many essential skills required in this medium to leave it to a newbie.

If you are using the services of a large Dubai marketing agency, it’s highly likely that you’ll be working with a skilled digital copywriter – but it is always good to ask anyway, just in case. However, for smaller companies without a large marketing budget, hiring a freelance copywriter to work alongside your web design company is common practice and very economical. But ensure beforehand they do have the relevant digital background.

Writing for the web does need some of the skills used offline, but there are a raft of skills and little tricks of the trade, that only a digital copywriter will be aware of. The most basic of these are:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Keywords

SEO is the buzz word for getting your website seen on the first page of sites such as Google and Yahoo. But not many people really understand what it actually means. A good digital copywriter will know. They will understand where keywords are best located on your website. They will write a great title tag, including the keywords for each individual page on your site.

Provide a brilliant user experience

A digital copywriter has to have more than a passing interest in web site design theory and practice. There have been numerous studies done to find out how people interact with websites. The most scary statistic is that you have less than a second to hook someone’s interest. Once that is done, the writer’s job is to keep them hooked and take them on a journey through your site and, ultimately, hit the buy/download button.

Editing & Proofreading

no smoking arabic

Make sure your directives are carried out by someone competent!

Although a traditional copywriter will be a stickler for correct grammar and spelling, there are always a couple more sets of eyes along the line that will pick up on any glaring mistakes. But when a writer is loading up content directly to your website, you need someone who will not leave a trial off blivious errors.

 

Use Content Management Systems (CMS)

A content management system sounds easy enough, but there are rules and your digital copywriter should be able to whizz around it, uploading new copy to your website, fixing the odd broken link and creating tag cloud words, decide who can and cannot view the page, create META descriptions and keywords, upload images, change the font, the font size, colour the text, and lots of other design elements you don’t want an amateur mucking about with.

Cut and Past?

 Oh, and lastly, it doesn’t matter if your business is in Dubai and the digital copywriter is based abroad as everything can be done over the web. But they should definitely know not to cut and paste from Word into your CMS – your website will suffer visually and you’ll need a web designer to sort the mess out – because a copywriter who doesn’t know that, wont know how to fix it!

Stop sign

Stop and think about who is writing your copy!

Look back ten years ago in Dubai, and indeed across the world, and the role of a digital copywriter barely existed. Commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy and most companies employed their traditional copywriters with little consideration of how the new medium would change their role.

Today, however, there is a distinct line to be drawn between a traditional print copywriter and a digital copywriter. Obviously, there are cross over skills: such as the ability to write clear, concise, engaging copy. But without a deep understanding of the mechanics of writing for the web, the copy will fail to attract attention and so your business will fail to convert visitors into customers.

Whether your company is in Dubai, New York or Beijing, the skills you need from a digital copywriter will be the same. Here are the top five:

1.     Keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Despite the global reach of the internet, you need to talk to you potential client and customer base locally, so your copywriter needs to know how to create content for your website that includes keywords that search engines will pick up. For example, when a person in downtown Dubai searches for a Dubai locksmith, you need those two words on your website. Very importantly, a good digital copywriter will be able to include keywords in a way that doesn’t make the copy read like complete gibberish!

2.     Call to Action As website design has become increasingly sophisticated, so have the methods used to attract the attention of visitors to websites. Without an effective call to action button on a web page, a potential customer will not understand how to navigate and will go to another site. Now while a good designer will already know where on the page to place the call to action buttons, it is the job of the digital copywriter to choose from the myriad of tried and test phrases to appeal directly to your target audience.

3.     Site Map Now, this is one that many traditional copywriters may not even be aware exists. The Site Map is the designers crumb trail to how a website is constructed. The digital copywriter also needs to know how a site map works to create the content in a cohesive fashion.

4.     Content Strategy This goes hand-in-hand with the Site Map. Without a strong understanding of how a visitor is guided through the website, a digital copywriter cannot construct an effective content strategy that encourages visitors to the site to get to the ‘buy’, ‘download’, ‘sign-up’ page. And once they’ve been drawn to those pages, good copy will put them in the mood to take action.

 5.     Schedules and Updates  Once your website has been created it cannot stay exactly the same forever. Without new content, visitors to your website will dwindle and it will slowly disappear from the search engine radar. Keeping on top of your content means your site stays fresh not only for seo but, and this is often forgotten in the race to be number one on Google, for your customers and clients. Fresh and interesting content will not only retain your old customers, it’ll attract new ones.

 

Crazy ads dubai

No help needed in copywriting here I am sold!

A website will give you global reach but as a Dubai based company, what you need from your digital copywriter is the ability to create a brilliant content strategy that markets your products and services to your local audience.

Strange lines China

Just what are these lines in the Chinese desert?

In 2011 strange lines in the Chinese desert were compared to QR Codes across the media. Which is pretty good going for an odd looking marketing tool that has only been in use for a couple of years.

Originally designed by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, in 1994 as a way of tracking vehicles during the manufacturing process, QR Codes weren’t considered until smartphones cameras made them more publically accessible.

Although still extensively used in tracking products, with over 20 million Americans accessing AR Codes (source ComScore) in October 2011, the QR Code has rapidly become an integral part of some very clever marketing campaigns.

An excellent example of this is Calvin Klein’s Jeans X campaign. Banners were placed in three locations in New York. The banners, mostly composed of the QR Code in bright red, teased passers-by with the promise of content that couldn’t be shown in public.

By carefully selecting their locations in the heart of a New York’s busiest shopping areas, the smartphones accessed a racy 40 second commercial that quickly went viral – the golden egg of new media advertising.

For those unfamiliar with the way they work, it’s incredibly simple from the users point of view. A QR Code (which is just one of 70 types of what is termed Mobile Tagging) is usually a black and white box with what appears to be badly printed pixel art inside it. Point your smartphone at it and (as long as you’ve downloaded the right app) your phone automatically reads it and takes you to a website to view new products, houses, special deals.

And once you start looking for them you quickly realise they are everywhere. From magazines and newspapers, which is a beautiful blend of new and old media, to websites, billboards, t-shirts and as part of graffiti on pavements and buildings. Some enterprising job seekers are even replacing old style resumes with a QR Code.

This is a significant leap forward because the gloss has gone off having a web address on a billboard or advert in a magazine – it just doesn’t cut it anymore. People like the idea of the new, there’s a seductive pull to be able to play with something different. Why type a long url when you can point and access the information almost instantaneously? You don’t even need to click.

And it is this speed of information transfer is at the crux of the success of QR Codes. With a smartphone people access the web on the move, as well as at home, which necessarily means they don’t want to click through several pages of a website to get to the newest pop video or get a great discount on their favourite make-up. They want it now, not in two minutes time.

QR code usage

Where are people accessing QR codes from?

There are 6.1 billion mobile phones (cellphones) in the world. Of those, according to leading mobile equipment manufacturer, Ericsson, 30% in areas such as the USA, Germany and the UK, are smartphones. And as this market share rises, so does the need to keep in step with the way people are using them. In the U.S. 20 million mobile phones scanned a QR code in a 3 month period ending October, is technophilic UAE scanning them? Well, the beauty is they are easy to track the effectiveness of in any marketing campaign using analytics.

Market Research and Marketing Research are not the same. Market Research is about finding out specific details about the nature of markets, competitors and potential customers. It involves researching a specific industry or market e.g. researching the mobile phone industry to  discover the number of competitors and their market share. Market research will provide more global information – often carried out in focus groups often combining questions from several companies to obtain general market information on a broader scale.

Market research can more easily be carried out by an external company since more global data are required such as geographic information and the accessibility of a market and its potential together with general customer information.

Special Man

Have you done your research? Is there a market for Specialman in Dubai?

Marketing Research analyses a given marketing opportunity or problem, defines the research and data collection methods to deal with the problem or take advantage of an opportunity, right through to implementation of a strategy. It is more systematic and seeks to find out the root cause for specific problem/s and determine solutions. e.g. research carried out to analyse and find solution for increasing sales revenues. Marketing research is about finding data on your products/services and your existing customers and provides more detailed information on the company’s product/service offer and the customers who buy them. All the information is used to better understand the reasons why customers choose your offer and in some circumstances to understand why not.

Marketing Research is essential in developing strategic decisions which are important for growth. It helps in making the right decisions  by using statistical methods and as such reduces the uncertainty in the decision-making process and increases the probability and magnitude of success provided it is conducted systematically, analytically and objectively.

Depending on the specific needs and expectations for any research, market or marketing, its success depends on the correct use of the type of research, its preparation and the use of its results.

All of this can be daunting for those organisations and individuals who wish to conduct research and so it is vital to learn about the various methods of approach and analysis. The Marketing Research & Intelligence course presented by the Institute of Sales & Marketing, Dubai will help you choose the most appropriate research programme and design appropriate methods so you will be able to make critical marketing decisions with absolute confidence. Find out more http://18.130.2.180/courses/market-research/index.php

Steve Jobs

"One more thing..." Jobs, the master marketer

Businesses that market themselves successfully will in all likelihood have a marketing plan that is adaptable to a changing business landscape.   A marketing plan will help you determine the marketing resources you will need to apply to meet your marketing and corporate objectives whether you have a small business or large company. The key purpose and focus of marketing planning is identifying and creating competitive advantage with intelligence coming from the market. It is about what you want to achieve (marketing objectives) and how you plan to get there (marketing strategy). A marketing plan can streamline the matching of resources to opportunity, enable increased coordination of efforts, develop a future market mindset within your company and help your business thrive through a combination of employing long-term strategic marketing and shorter tactical marketing.

So what do marketing plans involve?

  1. The marketing plan should be integrated with the corporate plan so that objectives cascade down into each department.
  2. A marketing audit to comprehensively review and appraise internal and external factors that affect the company’s profitability to direct the marketing strategy/objectives.
  3. The audit will lead to a concise SWOT analysis generated internally from a variety of viewpoints. This is done for each product or market segment. From the SWOT’s assumptions can be made that guide the marketing objectives you will set.
  4. Strategy should now be formulated with sub-objectives and action plans to achieve these within each individual department. The budget and resources needed to carry out these objectives should be determined.
  5. The marketing objectives are measured and reviewed to inform future planning.

Whilst this is an extremely simplistic view of a fairly complicated and lengthy process, the importance of market planning cannot be overemphasized since it will help your company survive, thrive, adapt and capitilise on emerging markets.

ISM training specializes in marketing training and will be running ‘Strategic Marketing Planning’ in Dubai, October 18th to 20th , please contact  Michelle if you wish to book a place.

There is an increasing amount of discussion about recession returning. All the media are gloomy about the continuing impact of recession on businesses.

This has an effect on businesses and their people, not only in terms of generating negative thoughts but believing them.  These negative thoughts affect the way in which businesses see their prospects of future survival.  It is vital, if you want to succeed in these conditions in any market to ensure that a positive outlook is maintained , essential marketing, sales and negotiation skills are energised and activities increased.  In times of recession it is tempting to cut sales activities which can only lead to further limitation of sales results.

Bill Levell for ISM Training

Bill mentors a delegate during an ISM Training Course

During such times customers place increasing importance on finding suppliers on whom they can rely and who provide them with valuable support.

When the going gets tough it’s not the time to withdraw but rather to become more proactive – increase marketing efforts, strengthen sales activities and sharpen negotiation skills. Even if the business potential is limited, it is essential to be even more active and more focused to ensure of being well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that will exist when recession is finally over.

Customers will be looking for ways to improve their profitability through negotiating better prices and value.  They will be spending more time in analysing the differences between competing offers, however, this will not be limited to price alone.  They will also be making comparisons of:-

  • Performance
  • Cost reductions
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Support
  • People and relationships
  • Financial stability

Customers/buyers are not committed to buying at the lowest price – they know that the lowest priced supplier does not have 100% of the market and they recognise that there is always price differentiation.  It is rare that the lowest priced offer secures the business.

What is more important, is for the customer to achieve the lowest cost of ownership of the product or service.  Attempting to negotiate a single variable such as price will almost certainly lead to suppliers having to concede part of their profit to the buyer.

Effective negotiation requires suppliers to thoroughly understand the value proposition of the competition compared to their own.  The implications are that it is essential to assess all of the variables on their values not just price.  Think about the factors that influence the customer’s evaluation e.g.

  • What are the costs and risk involved in changing supplier?
  • What is the long-term impact of building strategic relationships and support?
  • What will be the impact of the products and services on the the customer’s products and organisation?

When negotiating, it is in the interests of both parties to establish measurable, additional value by trading multiple variables simultaneously.  It is much more effective to avoid reacting to price reduction demands and to focus on demonstrating how to help the customer achieve their internal objectives whilst getting valuable concessions from them in return.

Market recession provides great opportunities to increase credibility and customer acceptance through demonstrating a thorough understanding of their value requirements and trading all variables effectively.

The ISM Training Dubai courses “ROI Selling Skills “and “Advanced Negotiation” provide high skill building which will contribute significantly to maintaining profitably and securing competitive advantage during recessionary times.

burj khalifa

AR 'at the top'!

On the hunt for more Augmented Reality (AR) in Dubai, I have recently come across a few more examples. The first is to be found at the tallest structure in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.  On the 124th floor viewers can use a telescope to view a live stream of Dubai. If a location of interest within the field of view is selected then additional information will appear on a screen. At the moment this is limited to tourist attractions. Panadol , also ran an AR campaign to launch their new packaging in Mall of the Emirates (Talk Partnership).

Mapping projection is more prevalent in the region with examples of the Fanta Chase and the recent unveiling of Green Line metro in Dubai. Nabil Moutran,  the Regional Director from Ogilvy One explained that  the  reason AR hasn’t yet been strongly  picked up in this market as in other regions , is simply due to the fact that the new world of digitalisation from a marketing perspective is still being explored. He expects rapid growth to come in digital marketing as a whole. However, he emphasised that Ogilvy One, whilst constantly   looking for new technologies and methods to engage with consumers, considers the creative idea as central to brand marketing. If the idea then allows Ogilvy One to explore new tech such as AR, then it is proposed.

“We believe in innovation, but our focus remains on developing strong ideas.”

A strong and effective marketing idea is vital to the successful promotion of products or services and at the moment AR may not be the best delivery medium. Marketing ideas should be responsive to changes in the local markets and be able to adapt to local tastes and preferences.  However, if marketing firms in the region are not developing their digital marketing /AR expertise and looking towards the future then this may be a lost opportunity to become market leaders in technophilic Dubai.

Thanks to Roland for some AR spotting and Nabil Moutran from Ogilvy One ( responsible for Fanta Chase). An enthusiast at the top, Burj Khalifa.

Are you reaching out to your potential market en masse or do you use the more subtle, effective method of relationship marketing? Your transactional customers may not sustain your business long term and according to Pareto’s Law approximately 20% of your customers are going to be responsible for 80% of your business. So do you know who these emotively loyal customers are and how are you engaging and communicating with them? Does your business adhere strictly to the traditional marketing mix approach focusing on markets and products or are you developing a more holistic approach and developing relationships with your customers? Is there synergy between your customer service departments, quality management and marketing team and does your strategy recognise that each employee has a marketing function? Are the customers that are initially loyal to your brand about to jump ship because you are not cementing your relationship with them?

Will he let his hair grow back now Steve Jobs has retired?

It is important to know who your customers are to retain their loyalty to your brand, they are the ones that have developed trust in your brand and need individual attention. Analysing your consumer database offers insights into their needs and demographics. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about understanding who your customers are through long term study, improving the way you communicate with them and is aimed at creating relationships that can increase profitability. Vital information about customers such as frequency, recency, type and amount of purchase will help you develop a picture of their Life Time Value (LTV).  You can segment your markets and target them more effectively communicating with them about products they truly might be interested in, anticipate their needs and track their response to your personalized approach and promotions. The data from CRM programs should feed back to management to drive the marketing strategy forward and assess the most effective and convenient communication channel for your different customers whether it be point of sale or internet based. Indeed for this valued set of customers you should be acutely aware of how they prefer to be communicated to.

However, there is no point in having lots of data if you are not using it thoughtfully and allocating resources to maximize the return from your 20% of most profitable emotivally loyal customers.  Businesses can use free (for basic features) internet data analysers e.g. Google Analytics or invest more deeply by using services such as Omniture or Webtrends. Businesses that choose to use a paid service may already be ahead of the game since they have signaled a deeper commitment to the process of customer analytics.  CRM systems are the key to defining your customers; creating customer satisfaction; improving customer service brand loyalty; receiving their feedback; engaging them as brand ambassadors and can result in directed rather than mass marketing.

So how is brand Dubai doing these days? Well, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, set up the Dubai Media affairs office in 2009. One of its  purposes is to investigate and enhance Dubai’s image  and if recent reports are to be believed Dubai is rapidly overcoming the backlash the city saw in the wake of the debt crisis and more positive chat is appearing again . Sheikh Mohammed himself has 457,885 twitter followers and growing and it is clear that the relationship strategy for Brand Dubai has key leadership support.

ISM training will run the highly successful Marketing Masterclass public course from September 11th to 13th and also runs more focused Marketing Communications/Strategy courses both in-house and publicly.

The way we visualize our physical environment could be about to change thanks to progress made in applying augmented reality to our spaces. Augmented Reality allows information about your real environment to connect to a display interface (mobiles and eventually glasses) allowing added information (the augmented bit), multimedia, interaction and on-demand information to enhance your sensory experience of the world around you.  These enhanced AR systems can track and adjust to the users movements within their environment. It has already been around since the 90’s being used  in industries like the military, engineering, film and robotics but could it become the widespread and familiar experience to all of us?

Augmented raybans

Do you think my augmented Ray bans look OK?

Some of you may already be using geo-located AR through your mobiles overlaying information on your location to help you navigate your way around unfamiliar cities and choosing where to eat, gaming or watching sportscasts with an AR overlay but what are the prospects?

Ultimately it is envisaged that it  will change our cognitive experiences of space engaging us into it, helping  understand community, present and historical contexts allowing for greater interaction.There are some great examples of use and possible use e.g. Hoppola and Superimpose created a sensitive AR layer in Berlin bringing history back to life by recreating the Berlin Wall; the Oxford Natural History museum is working on their AR exploration of exhibits and an app may be soon available for i Phone to allow you to watch scenes from movies shot where you are located. Mass consumerism of this is not too far in the future and once a portable system has been developed combining display, tracking and hardware without any of the current issues there could be widespread application of AR. Current barriers include  getting the virtual world to map precisely with the real world (tracking) and merging seamlessly with user movements as well as creating a portable interface for the consumer that will be secure and universally operational .

So has AR arrived in Dubai yet and is there a market opportunity? I have been struggling to find examples but some Dubai residents and visitors may have seen the digital Memac Ogilvy’s Fanta Chase in Downtown Dubai earlier in 2011. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has a new i Phone application for visitors to promote tourism, do you know anyone using it? The recent release of Augmented Reality (AR) Platform for Android smart phones from Qualcomm will allow Dubai businesses, advertising agencies, gamers and educators to build applications based on their platform. What’s clear is that  Dubai marketeers will be using AR marketing more in the future.

Here are a few well known examples of innovative AR applications from around the world.

Heineken ( Taiwan)

Lego

Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam