Digital Marketing: Five Apps for the Creative Digital Marketer


boris johnson

Is your digital marketing up in the “hair’?

As a creative marketer you already know the ins and outs of digital marketing. Impressions, engagements, click through rates are familiar jargon. You are now looking to innovate and be strategic without affecting your work-life balance. All mature digital marketers have been there. You are at a tipping point but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We feel your pain and have compiled a list of apps that will help you achieve your goals without you having to look like Boris Johnson’s hair on steroids.

So what are your priorities? As a digital marketer you already know that 75% of online video viewers have interacted with at least one video ad this month. This makes video priority #1.

Making videos doesn’t have to be a time consuming process that involves studios and specialists. A smartphone and some creativity is enough. With Vine – Twitter’s video blogging app, making and sharing video content is easy. Vine gives you the ability to tell a story in six seconds. If you have an incredible moment or story to share with your customers, this is the right app. The best part? You don’t have to spend hours thinking, brainstorming and story boarding.

Now you have video covered. What’s next? Well, “researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.” That makes info graphics priority #2. But if you are not skilled at Photoshop or other design software, creating an info graphic can take days for coordinating, designing and man-hours. This is why we love the Piktochart app. It has an easy to use drag-drop template and over 500 templates that you can choose from. Idea to execution takes just a couple of hours, and the best part? You can do it on the go – while you are riding the metro or stuck in traffic in downtown Dubai. Oh and it’s free!

Ok so now you have the visual content taken care of. Next you need to look at some direct inbound marketing activity. Emails as you know are making a comeback – more and more companies are reporting higher engagement from emails. In fact, “you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.”

Some of the more mature email marketing platforms offer a host of features that can be overwhelming to set up a simple drip campaign or email newsletter. We prefer Mad Mimi. It has a simple user interface and one of the most generous free plans available. What’s good? Combine it with a Vine video and have your email loaded with an embedded video. Emails with video increase click through rates by 200 – 300%.

Now you have taken care of content and engagement but you still need to measure and monitor effectiveness. Because social media never sleeps, monitoring becomes a 24/7 job. With the help of Mention, you can take a break. You can monitor your brand mentions, engagements and respond directly from the Mention dashboard. It also tracks brand influencers and trends. You can monitor and ensure that your keywords are trending. What’s more, if you have a team, you can all communicate via Mention.

You last priority, as a creative digital marketer is to ensure business as usual. While you are creating Vine videos, info graphics and email newsletters – the day-to-day social media activity needs to continue. Buffer will help you do just that. It helps you manage, schedule and publish all your social media channels, from one place. The extra bonus? It connects with your Mention account to ensure you get the in-depth analytics that you need.

Whether you are a one-man digital marketer or managing a team, these five apps are all you need to create an integrated online marketing experience for your clients without compromising on engagement, SEO, mentions, leads or sleep.



Is your Business struggling with Social MediaDo you want social media to perform better for your business, brand or organisation?

Wondering how other businesses seem to have gotten so far ahead with their own social media?

I’ve found one of the key issues and concerns for many businesses who want to improve social media is consistency. As someone who has worked in Digital Marketing and communications for over 18 years with businesses, brands and at consultancy level, I have seen it time and time again. Businesses start their social media, run it for a few weeks – maybe months, then before long it starts to fall down the list of priorities. Eventually activity stops.

Now as someone who is a massive social media evangelist and who has benefited greatly from it, I would urge tenacity – it will pay off. You will reap the rewards if you consistently put in the effort. Don’t lose the opportunity to engage with potential customers on a local or global basis.

Frequently I come across such businesses who have given up – I always ask why and normally get some variation on the responses below:

  • Social Media doesn’t work for my business
  • We just don’t have the time
  • We don’t get Social Media
  • Our Customers aren’t on Social Media
  • Traditional advertising is working just fine for us

The above is a sample of some of the thinking still in 2016. There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of any of the businesses I work with – that social media does work for business. That being said, I do agree that it can be hard work. It takes time, effort and investment – it’s most certainly not free. But if executed correctly can become a core part of your businesses marketing efforts.

So I’ve come up with 5 simple but effective ways for social media to work better for your business.


It’s number one. You need to start here.

Invest in training for those staff within the business or organisation who are key to the daily management of your social media. Training needs to be delivered by the right training provider. At ISM we have a track record of delivering engaging practical social media training for businesses. The key word here is ‘practical’. There are way too many digital marketing events and training which bring in speakers who talk about social media – but don’t actually show the delegates how to do anything. The staff within a business who are responsible for the social media need to be empowered and have the confidence to help build and grow the social media activity for the business or brand. It’s also highly recommended that other key members of the business avail of training even if just a 1 day introduction to social media for business so everyone has at least an understanding of its importance and impact. In my experience social media in many businesses can be a bottom up approach, though in rare occasions it has been top down. Buy-in from senior management to CEO level is important and a recommendation I give many businesses, is to consider a short half or full day introduction to digital marketing and social media for those key members of staff in which buy-in to develop ongoing social media is important.


When it comes to social media no matter what the activity, email marketing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or blogging content is at the heart of everything.

Many businesses struggle with content and end up churning out sales-related content which does not engage anyone. When it comes to starting to think about creating content, the bottom line is that the content you create needs to add value and it needs to be useful. Rather than rush the creation of content, sit down to plan how and what the content might look like, will it solve a problem for your current or future customers?. Remember customers are searching for answers to questions. If you are lucky enough to have them click on a link to a piece of your content, does it answer a question or help solve a problem.

Scheduling Tools

Yes there are many available on the market – some with lots of features that can cost a small fortune each month and end up being poor value for money for a business especially if you are not getting the proper use out of the different features or the tool itself is so complicated that you avoid having anything to do with it and you simply don’t use it. My advice is to start small. Buffer is my tool of choice when it comes to scheduling for social media (even it’s free version) it’s iideal for businesses just starting out and trying to get to grips with managing social media and scheduling content. Getting into the habit of scheduling a core base of content to flow out each and every day across your main platforms, – most likely Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will increase engagement and help you have more time to focus on developing other areas of your digital marketing.

Have a Content Plan

With my own content I try to get at least 3 months of content in the pipeline. One of the key benefits I have found about having a content plan is that it helps me publish more. The setting up of a schedule forces me to commit time to creating a piece of content along with the actual production of the content it also needs to be researched which helps contribute towards my own learning development. Your content plan for your business will give you an overview of all the key holiday dates or other dates which might be relevant to your business. Remember holidays and events are important to your audience and provide an excellent opportunity for content creation. The content plan gives you the opportunity to plan the type of content which you want to create. There are a number of different types but I would highly recommend a mixture of blog posts, video content and audio based in the form of podcasts and eBooks all have worked very well with clients I have worked with in the past.

Insights & Analytics

Ever try to go on a journey and not look at a map? I have but that may be a man thing :). Relying on my guess work didn’t work.

It’s not easy – you end up most of the time getting lost and keep taking the wrong directions while spending way longer than you needed to.

When it comes to social media many people operate their social media activity by a series of guesses. When it comes to the numbers you need to pay attention to these as they let you know what works and what dosent. All of the major social media platforms offer their own insights or analytics which gives you an idea on how your content is working and also the type of audience which you have. Make sure you set up a Facebook Pixel on your website. Once added, Facebook will start tracking visitors and running in conjunction with Facebook Ad conversation will provide you with indication to the cost of driving traffic across to your website from Facebook. If you are using any third party applications such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Audiense or Social Bakers these will also give you insights and analytics. All of which will help you make better informed decisions on what is working and what is not in terms of your social media efforts. And much of which you have control of o make changes in real time.

I hope by reading this article you are considering reinstating social media for your business. Remember as humans we are social beings. As businesses and brands we need to understand that and humanise content for our audience – start to think like a customer and shape you efforts on social media around that. Remember what I covered in point one about the importance of training – it’s key and will help take social media for your business to the next level.

So my question to you…What are you waiting for?

Enrol for the next social media or digital marketing workshop with ISM and let me help you become empowered to successfully build your businesses social media community.


If you are involved in Digital Marketing then you already know all about A/B testing and its role in producing higher conversion rates for your digital strategies. The goal with using A/B or split testing is to optimise your webpages so interest in them is increased e.g. more prospects clicking on a advert you have placed. This is done by creating changes in copy text, images, colours and layouts for the user interface.

The current webpage acts as the control –‘A’, and the test webpage with one of these elements changed, acts as ‘B’. The test is performed on your target audience and numbers of those responding to the call to action are compared. If the test webpage B proves to be more successful then you are going to be using this one. Simple. Perhaps though you take the testing further and try to segment your audience. Are you going to find different results with men /women and different demographics? One thing to bear in mind is your goal and to stick to it, experimenting from your control null hypothesis. This might be as in the Obama campaign, ‘less copy is better’ which was tested by removing copy from different areas.

So let’s have a brief look at the elements you may like to test.

Copy text

The copy text and call to action buttons need to convey value and momentum to the customer. They need to know what they are getting from clicking on the advert. It is not about brilliant wordsmiths waxing lyrical, it is about getting the value across to the customer…”what’s in it for me?”. Changes to copy can provide the biggest change to ROI so it is worth spending time testing this in particular.


Pronoun A/B testing from Content Verve

A simple one borrowed from Micheal Aagaard demonstrates clearly how a change in one word led to significantly less reactions.


So which button are you going to use… ‘Learn More’, ‘Join Us Now’, ‘Get started’or ‘Sign up Now’? You need to apply the Science and test!


Dinner with Obama

This image from dinner with Barack campaign was hugely successful. Photo by Pete Marovitch

Whether or not to use an image is yet another decision. Certainly if you are a shopper on Amazon or buying clothing online the conversion rates are much higher if the item is displayed. It is worth noting than when selling clothing, conversion is slightly better when the clothing is modelled by a human. Be careful of using bland or stock images especially if you overcrowd your page and push the important sign up area from centre stage. Are you going to try placing text within the image? It could bring your message into focus more quickly but bet the designers won’t like it…


What colour are you going to choose for your call to action button? The all action attention grabbing Red, the positive momentum of Green for go or the oh so colour of the moment orange? Well, as expected the red button wins out every time. Or does it? What’s important is the amount this button stands out from the other visuals in your page. Does it have some nice white space around it? Are you using a red button in a webpage that is has a predominantly red themed background , well done… you have camouflaged it nicely!


One of the areas that the Obama team worked on (naturally !) was removing the barriers to donations on their campaign website. They tweaked at the form through testing and came up with a formula that increased donations. Filling in forms is a frustrating process to all of us especially when parting with our hard earned cash. Endless fields of information, mandatory fields and errors all turn it into a painful process. The team sequenced the form to make it a stepwise process and cleverly asked for the donation amount first so you were already invested. I strongly advise you to read the account from Kyle Rush of the process.

There are many tools out there to help you perform A/B testing such as Optimizely ( used in Obama’s first campaign) , Google Website Optimiser and Clickthroo or indeed its more complex cousin Multivariate testing .

So if you would rather not leave your conversion and click through rates to chance and your design choices be based on data not esoterics then give A/B testing a go!

digitalDigital Marketing has exploded and most UAE marketeers whilst they understand the inherent opportunities it affords are racing to catch up on their knowledge and creative application , especially in Dubai where sadly we still lag behind other countries at the forefront of innovation. The increasing jargonistic nature of the digital marketing landscape doesn’t help those seeking to learn either…frankly it can be quite off putting. For as little as 100 dollars you can gain a dubious qualification in Digital Marketing but woe betide the employee who finds their latest recruit really only has one or two tricks up their sleeve and doesn’t really have a) a solid marketing background and b) little idea of the scope of tools that need to be brought into play and how, where and when.

Digital Marketing can be used ad hoc but it yields far better sustainable results when proper planning is put in place. 50 % of companies have no clearly defined digital marketing strategy and I am guessing this number is higher in Dubai. Before you implement your digital marketing plan brainstorm your key strategies for growing your online business. A well thought out goal will provide focus for your digital marketing efforts.

How to Reach Prospects and Customers

There are lots of ways to reach customers digitally through social media marketing; SEO; mobile marketing; email marketing; pay per click and content marketing to name a few. Clearly you will not be using all the channels but will select those that reach your target audience with greater return on investment. What are your competitors doing and how can you stand out?

How to achieve interaction

A dynamic dialogue with customers can give a boost to Search Engine Optimisation as well as Social Media Optimisation. Ultimately you want your business to become customer focused, so that they drive the business and traffic for you. The customer can participate by reviewing your products, requesting information or commenting and suggesting improvements or expressing interest but unless your communication channels are monitored the dialogue will quickly close. E.g. If a customer subscribes to an email newsletter or makes a first purchase a welcome to your company or products should follow to open the communication.

How to convert to leads or sales

Do you have a marketing funnel in place? When you have a lead, how can you encourage them to purchase? If a customer shows an interest you should be able to move them through the marketing funnel and convert their interest and desire to action. This can be done with lead magnets, calls to action and offers and providing them with additional relevant information to help in their decision making. In Dubai I get increasingly frustrated when I call clearly interested in a product and no-one ever calls or emails me back.

How to engage consumers through time.

You need to think in terms of fostering an active passionate online community around your product. Your customers not only form relationships with your brand but also with peers and they share their experience with your service. Provide them with intuitive tools to talk to you also, whether it is open honest feedback on social media or a live chat line on your website or the development of an app. Loyal customers account for 80% of your business. They can become staunch brand advocates and value truly good customer service.

If you would like to learn more about Digital Marketing please get in touch, ISM Training are running their first Digital Marketing programme in September in Dubai and we have an excellent UK instructor on board. You can find the brochure here /docs/Digital%20Marketing%20Essentials.pdf

Every brand has to have a good back story to attract and engage the consumer but how well are Dubai brands using this marketing tactic?

In the last blog sales through storytelling I discussed the merits of injecting some storytelling into selling so this time I turn to its traditional stomping ground of marketing.


“What’s the Dough-Boy Afraid Of?” Ben and Jerry top the ice cream world

Remember the elements of a good story:-heroes, stimulus, conflict, resolution and a good solid happy and moral ending. How are these elements being applied to entice you into a connection with brands? Stories told by brands deliver a pleasure outcome and builds on Bagozzi and Nataraajan’s ( 2000,p.10) idea that “that people need help in finding what makes them happy, and this is where marketing comes in.”

We store and retrieve a lot of information in the form of stories so it makes sense for brands to play into this for us to experience emotional investment in the brand. Successful brands use ideas of rebellion, railing against power, supporting the underdog and being part of something meaningful and bigger to entice consumers to action. Good examples of this include Nike (Just do it!), Tom’s (One for One) and Warby Parker.

The Warby Parker story is inspirational. It has all the elements of a good story. Wandering students lose their glasses backpacking and can’t afford a new pair. They decide to create an affordable and design led Eyewear Company to topple the company owning 80% of the market share who keep prices artificially high. What’s more for every pair of glasses sold they will give a pair to someone in need. Now you can shop ethically for glasses and stick it to the industry giant at the same time! If you wear glasses like me you must be frantically looking for your nearest store. They are not in Dubai yet but you can try them on, online, and get them shipped…

So which Dubai brands are excelling in the field of storytelling? There is ONE that springs to mind (pun intended). Thomas Lundgren the owner of “The One” tells us on the website pages devoted to storytelling that he set the store up because he was visited by an angel telling him to save the world from IKEA. They want to inspire their customers to be different – to change the world. They sell feelings! They give you music whilst browsing online! They ask us to be part of a meaningful community building sustainable projects in the developing world! Their story ends with the lines “are you brave enough to be with us?”. YES, of course I want to save the world, sign me up for a sofa!

So tell your own brand’s story now. What is the motivation behind your brand and what problems does it solve ? Inspire us and make it meaningful and we will tell your story to other consumers.

The skeptic in us will always questions a brand’s story – but that’s ok , in doing so we are engaging our emotions. Just don’t betray a consumer’s trust, that can have dire consequences …

Bagozzi, R. P., & Nataraajan, R. (2000). The year 2000: Looking forward. Psychology & Marketing, 17, 1–11.



Do you have to shout to attract customer attention?

Marketing campaigns are costly, so it makes sense to ensure your target market is hearing you loud and clear. But without good data you could be wasting your budget on a slick campaign focused on the Dubai market, when most of your customers are from Abu Dhabi. Here are the top reasons you campaign is falling on deaf ears.


You don’t have a CRM system

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system, one of the most powerful tools in marketing. Inside this system you can track purchase histories, the age of buyers, their geographical location, what they like, what they don’t like, how often they buy and where and how they buy. This is serious marketing data that can be harnessed to improve sales and improve customer relations.

Your profiling is too broad

Regardless of what you are selling (from financial services, office stationary, to designer gowns), if you only think of your customers as one homogenous block, you are missing out on sales. Used in conjunction with your CRM, you can create very specific profiles of your most/least profitable customers.

Profiling allows you to see what age groups your products and services appeal to the most and also which geographical locations are your hotspots. This is particularly important when starting a new campaign. Without this knowledge you could be spending thousands on mailshots, e-shots, billboards and mobile ads that simply aren’t going to the right districts. Which is costly, lost opportunity.

Your tailoring sucks

Are you still sending out the same message to all your customers? If you are, you’ve fallen into the trap of believing that because you sell one thing, you only need to market on a single level.

Good marketing comes from knowing that people are different. They may all be using your services as an accountant, but they’re experiences will be very different. Find the broad categories of your customers. Do you have three main different customers? For example, do you have retail companies, freelancers and restaurants using your accountancy services? If so, you can use this knowledge to develop more specific marketing materials to appeal to each group.

You don’t localise

Although you might be marketing to all of the UAE , don’t forget to spend time on maximising your local market. You may import perishable goods to sell across the region, but have you looked on your doorstep for customers?

Where’s the global element?

You may not have an overseas component to your business, yet. But if you are planning to ship your goods and services abroad, a little research goes a long way. Find the story of your business. If you’ve only been trading for a short period, focus on the start-up journey, and if you’re well established, find the landmark moments.

Create specific marketing materials for targeting foreign markets: glossy brochures, a micro-website, business cards for the person you whose job it is to be the main one point of contact for new business from abroad.

And speak to your business contact at local government. They may run schemes and workshops to help small UAE companies create marketing campaigns for foreign markets.


Are you ready to buy? Image from Upstream.

Are you ready to buy? Image from Upstream.

Despite mobile use in the Middle East expanding rapidly, mobile ad spending is still lagging behind the rest of the world. So for companies in Dubai a fast entry into mobile marketing is the key to surging ahead of competitors.

Have a mobile site

It may seem obvious, but many businesses still don’t have a site that is optimised for mobile visitors. Because of the difference in screen size, a mobile website is configured differently and allows people to move around (and make purchases) with ease.

There are two different routes for creating a mobile site. Either you have a completely different site that is purely for mobile, or have a responsive website built. Many believe a responsive website is the only way forward; however this is for those who are building a new business website, or are having their old website re-designed. This is because a responsive website is a single site that responds to be seen at its best on multiple devices. If you already have a well-established site, a purely mobile site could be a less expensive way forward.

Another positive for building a mobile site is that it can be changed quickly on a standalone basis, whereas changes to a website will be seen by anyone coming to your site, not just the mobile visitors.

Just ensure that your mobile site (or responsive website) looks good on lots of devices, not just on your own or your designer’s mobile phone.

Use Facebook

Facebook is the dominant website in mobile for the majority of MENA countries, so should be integral to your mobile marketing campaign in UAE.

Firstly you need to set up a business page on Facebook and begin populating it with relevant content. That can be updates on campaigns, competitions, videos and product pictures. Give as much information as you can, such as your location and opening hours, as this helps when people do a local search on Facebook for businesses similar to yours.

Use Ads

Mobile ads do work, so it’s worth researching your market and getting some out there. And since so many people use Facebook, that is a reasonable place to start. Outside of that, use traditional marketing insight to target those online websites you know your customers use.

Also, using a mobile site means you can track where your customers are coming from and therefore plan future campaigns around the most successful traffic routes.


SMS is still an effective marketing scheme in the Middle East, and if you can give people a mobile site to visit you’re upping your chances of converting a visitor into a sale.






It’s a universal truth that retaining a customer is less expensive than acquiring new ones. But it’s an easy truth to forget and once you let your attention slip, customer loyalty begins to slip as well. So whether you’re selling expensive jewellery in the Dubai Souk, or ice-cream on Jumeirah Beach, keep your customers at the forefront of your mind.

Why are they loyal?

Dan Brown

It may be the same formula but that’s what Dan Brown’s fans want.

It’s really important to know what it is about your business that keeps customers coming back for more. One of the world’s best selling novelists, Dan Brown, keeps his readers buying his books by using a similar formula and the same hero in most of his books. He knows what his audience wants and gives it to them book after book.

Ask yourself, your colleagues, and most particularly your customers, what it is that keeps them returning to you. It could be you have the best delivery in the city, or the nicest staff, or the best food. And you could also find out what is turning people away – as important to know when building a profile of a loyal customer.

The positive experience

One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer. You may feel that’s a bit harsh, but unless you have the complete monopoly on a product or service, there is always a choice for the customer to go somewhere else. If your customer feels they can get a better experience elsewhere, they will at least give it a try, and once tried, they may stay with your competition.

The old maxim that you should under-promise and over-deliver has never been so true. In the age of Trip Advisor and reviews on Amazon, customers can tell the world of their experience in minutes. With this type of instant feedback, one bad experience (or several in a row) posted online could lose your sales straight away.

Which is why consistency is important. If you run a hotel, you know that people will keep coming back if the rooms are consistently clean and comfortable, and if your staff are always courteous and helpful. However, if you price yourself too high, long standing customers will expect an even higher level of service from you – such as expensive toiletries, specialist free teas and coffee, and if you fail to live up to that, you’ll lose customers.

Loyalty Schemes

Lots of consumer businesses have loyalty schemes (where customers get points for every purchase over a certain amount) in a bid to encourage people to return to their store for repeat goods. They can be incredibly good for business, but if you don’t give people sufficient rewards (in the shape of special events, money off coupons, etc), they’ll stop using the loyalty card and drift towards other businesses.

But when a loyalty scheme is working well you not only get repeat custom, you can track what works and what doesn’t work with your customers. It’s a fantastic tool to help you tweak your reward program to make individuals feel really wanted in your stores.

Loyalty in b2b

The business world is no different from the consumer world. You are still dealing with people and they want the same levels of customer support a consumer demands. So it’s important to identify loyal business customers a reward them for their business. Whether that’s taking them out for dinner, sending them flowers, inviting them to an inclusive event or giving them a discount on their next order. Remember them and they’ll remember you next time around.




How easy do you think it is for your customers to discover your business? If you’re an accountancy firm in Dubai, can people find you when they search online for an accountant in Dubai? If a person is walking down a street, will they easily see where your business is based? If they can’t, your business is missing out on potential customers and increased sales, and it’s time for some location marketing.

Search engines

Have you tried to search for your business online? If you are a clothes boutique, search for boutiques in your area and see if your own business details come up. Part of this will be based on your company’s website, but also on the other websites your company is listed on. For example, if you are a restaurant, any reviews on Tripadvisor will pop up in a search. At least, you’d hope so. Many people check online reviews now before making a decision on anything from where to eat, to what car sales company to use for their next big purchase.

Local / International Directories

People turn to the internet now as a first point of call to find goods and services.

So it makes sense that your company is listed in local online directories and portals. Using our boutique example, you might make a point of selling some goods on Dubizzle to gain extra exposure. If you are marketing a financial services company, you would ensure you have a listing on Yellow Pages AE, and if yours is an engineering company, industry specific websites such as Dubai Business Directory would be a good place to start.

Social media

Using the city name in all social media is a must. If someone is searching for art in Dubai, if you have a YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram account to show off your business, putting your location in the title will make it easier for search engines to pick you – and so, easier for potential customers to find you.

On Twitter, hashtags are a great way of using location to market your business. A shop with a summer sale would use #sale #dubai hashtags, an exhibiting artist could use #dubai and the gallery name hashtag along with a link to their pictures.


Using the data from mobile phone searches, search engines are able to target advertising in a more personalised way. This helps you expose your business name to people who are in your area. For example, if someone is searching for a restaurant in your area, you could set up an ad on the search engine that appears only for your area. This is becoming a common, and useful way of attracting new business.

On the Street

Can customers find your business easily ?

Can customers find your business easily ?

It may seem like common sense, but just how easy is it for people to find your business on the street? Is your business name easy to find from street level? Whether you are twenty stories up, or hidden in the depths of a mall, it’s your job to make it easy for customers to find your office.

Ensure the name plate on the side of your high rise office is clean and easy to read, put banners, flyers, even chalk marks on the pavement (if local by-laws allow) – anything and everything that gets you noticed in the right way.


Remember: If customers can’t find you, your competitors will reap the benefit.

Every entrepreneur knows that building a business from scratch is pretty similar in Dubai, Pretoria, or New York: it’s all about marketing.

1. Get the branding right

Entrepreneurs know the key to great marketing starts with a memorable name and great brand identity. Whether it takes a day or a month, spend time creating a name and a great back story to your brand. It has to be something your target market will identify with quickly.

2. Use social media wisely

Social media is now a cornerstone to marketing a business, and successful entrepreneurs research thoroughly before stepping into the social media pool. Don’t just look the big social media brands, your niche may have customers in more location based social media. And if you don’t know your Twitter from your Dribble, get yourself on a course and educate yourself.

3. Find a mentor

The best entrepreneurs know that a mentor is a key ingredient to their success. Whether for finances, boardroom tactics, or marketing, they’ll provide insightful advice to keep you on track.

Don’t expect the mentor to do all the work for you. Do your research and find out as much as you can about the market your aiming at, then go to a mentor with very precise questions you can’t find the answer to anywhere else.

4. Design the best website

Shoddy websites are an instant turn off, and good entrepreneurs know not to hire their cousin/mate/friend of a friend. Find a professional web developer who produces excellent websites that look as good on a mobile as they do on a desktop.

5. Great online content

A great looking website is only the beginning. Your site has to have ‘sticky content’. A marketing term for content that is interesting enough for your potential customers to ‘stick’ around.

Only you know what your product/service is capable of, so you have to translate this into an easy-to-use shop, great blog, fun/serious (depending on your audience) videos, tutorials, e-books: create excellent content and make that site work hard for your marketing strategy.

6. Create a mobile strategy

The use of mobile phones has soared, so harness that power and build a mobile strategy to help customers connect easily with your business. Whether it’s making it easy for they to buy your products on their phones, to reach out to them with a neat little game, order support at the touch of a button, or load up your latest fashion line: every mobile strategy is different, so research how you want to use it to market yourself effectively.

7. Be seen


Don’t be shy get your talents out into the open !

Entrepreneurs aren’t shy. They get out there and meet their customers face-to-face. Don’t hang back and let someone else sell your business for you. Get stuck in and be seen at conferences, on the street stall, in the board room, on the radio, in the papers and on TV. When it comes to marketing, entrepreneurs get stuck in.

8. Find the Free (that doesn’t break the bank)

Everyone likes a bit of free thrown into their shopping basket: free delivery over x amount, free three months support, or buy one get one free. Find what you can give for free and use it as a marketing ploy

9. Get the customers involved

Whether it’s a product or a service, the best way to get people interested is to let them experience it directly. Have you developed a new drink? Take it to the people and let them try it: demos at shows, a cart next to a popular shopping area, take into people’s homes and offices. Be imaginative. Have a new type of software to help businesses streamline their systems? Go to conferences and sponsor a coffee stand, provide free workshops, give talks, arrange to go and talk directly to businesses in their offices.

You may feel that you’re too busy arranging meetings at the next conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre, to worry about what those people feel about your company’s brand. If you don’t know what they think, it’s time to take stock and make changes, because great brand identity will increase sales.

Just think about your favourite lunch spot. Why do you go there? Is it the friendly staff, the great range of food, your favourite food cooked well, or is it the price, or the fact you always meet your friends there? There will be a myriad of reasons, but they all add up to a brand identity that pulls you back time and again.

When it comes to marketing your company, whether you’re in the engineering business, or selling premium watches, you need to find what makes your brand great, and what lets your brand down.


How do your customers feel about your image? Does your logo make them feel warm, secure, happy even? Or does it leave them cold, or worse, with a raft of negative feelings?

If you don’t know it’s time to find out. Big brands work hard to ensure that when people see their logo it gives them very positive feelings. You should be working on that for your own company.

Take a good look at your company logo. Is it an old established name? If so you can work on that to offer the security of being experienced. If you’re a start-up you’ll have to work harder on the logo to get the right mix of font and colours to help people easily identify you, and make you stand out from companies selling similar products or services.


How strongly do people identify with your brand? If you sell watches, do your customers automatically think of you when looking for a new watch? If not, why not? Be honest with yourself and ask your staff for feedback. Do they have customers who always come back and others that never return? Do you know the reasons behind this? Is it a particular member of staff who makes customers feel good? If so, look at ways of teaching other members of staff to replicate their behaviour.

In a business environment are you the ‘go to’ service? Is your delivery, pricing and customer support so good people feel secure and happier with you than some of your cheaper rivals?

Do you actually recognise yourself as a brand? If you don’t, then it may be that your customers don’t either. You could be just another service provider, easily replaced with a slicker company. Work on what your brand should mean to the customer, from that starting point you can begin implementing changes to create a meaningful brand.

Be socially active

Not just on social media, although that is really important, but just generally. Do your employees take part in local events to raise awareness, or money, for specific causes? Do you support their efforts with branded clothing? Do you support a local sports club?

Being seen in the community is an important aspect of brand identity. If your logo is seen supporting local people, you are reinforcing your commitment to being more than just a faceless corporate business.

On the corporate level, do you support conferences by handing out free coffee (under your branded signage, of course)? Or sponsor talks? Do you have one of your experts talking on local radio or writing knowledge articles in local papers? All of this adds up to re-enforcing your brand across a wide variety of areas.




sensory branding

What’s good for Heston’s diners is worth a second glance….

We’re all used to the concept of visual branding; getting the logo, company colours and font to connect with the customer, creating a cohesive style for stores and offices. But for some time now, this is being enhanced, and in some ways superseded by sensory branding.

Consider walking into any branch of Hollister. The stores have a very strong identity whether you’re shopping in Dubai or Glasgow – the same beach hut exterior, dim lighting, evocative scent, music and, of course, the same Californian inspired clothing.

Enveloping the senses in this way evokes a feeling, a sense of belonging, which Hollister customers enjoy and return time and again for. Of course, the experience is not to everyone’s taste – and that’s equally important. Hollister customers are teenagers and young adults who are economically able to enjoy the brand’s image.

Anyone outside that niche probably finds the store’s signature scent overpowering, the dim lighting irritating, and might question the price and individuality of the clothes themselves. But they aren’t the target market. Similarly, the hushed tones, subtle music and delicate scents used by upmarket hotel chains are probably an anathema to the majority of young people, but they aren’t the hotel’s target market. Their target group are business people and prosperous holidaymakers.

This maturation of sensory marketing has sped up over the last decade. A car manufacturer has worked on creating a certain sound when a door shuts. This sound has been developed to become synonymous with quality in the ears of its customers.

Retail units of global brands are carefully planned to place both auditory and aroma points to encourage purchases of certain items, usually items with a higher price tag. And at the very edge of technology there are very personalised sensory marketing techniques being trailed in the world’s bigger cities. Cameras can capture images of people walking towards a store and that data can be fed back to a computer. Images and sounds are selected to appeal to the customer profiled, and as they walk past the store their senses are engaged in the hope they’ll walk in and make a purchase.

Online things are getting just as interesting. Recently a marketing company encouraged visitors to a web site to take a sip of any brand of whisky while visiting different coloured ‘rooms’ on their site (where the promoted whisky brand was being prominently displayed at all times), and giving feedback on their experience. This helped the branding company see how colours and textures impacted on the visitor’s enjoyment of whisky generally, while the repeating of the name of the branded whiskey probably led to many visitors going out and trying it in real life.

All this is expensive, but it doesn’t mean the smaller business can’t harness some of the big company’s sensory marketing tricks. Again, it’s down to research. Find out how it’s being done by the bigger companies, and replicate it to your own budget. Sensory marketing is proven to work around the world; it taps into deep parts of the human brain, working on an almost subliminal level. Done well, a little Dubai company can use sensory marketing as effectively as the global brands.



Every business needs to market their product. But not every business remembers that marketing communications (often shortened to marcomms) is about using different styles to meet the needs of different customers, whilst retaining brand recognition.

But many businesses fail at this first, simple hurdle. Because one approach will not suit all your customers, marketing communications needs to be tailored to different demographic groups. You might feel this will take up too much time and money, but without properly targeting customers, you’ll waste a huge chunk of your budget on communicating with the wrong people.

So how does a small business with a tight budget reach out to all the different customers, whether they are selling business to business or business to consumer?

Who are your customers?

Whether you are a high-end boutique selling designer clothes in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall, or an IT company in Dubai’s Al Quoz, you wouldn’t use your budget sending direct mailings to every resident and business in the UAE.

Most business owners have a fairly broad idea of who their customers are, but without finding out in detail, a chunk of your marketing efforts are likely to be targeted at the wrong audience.

To find out more about the type of customer you currently attract, and want to attract, methods range from these below. All these methods allow you to ask for people’s contact details, giving you the ability to geo-target your marcomms strategy:

  • Offer free samples of your product(s), or a free trial period of your services
  • Start a refer a friend scheme, where current customers are encouraged to refer a friend in exchange for a discount voucher
  • Attend trade shows where you show new customers what you do and ask for their details to send out further information
  • Competitions attract new customers who may not otherwise try your services

Once you have a clearer idea of who your customers are, and how to best to connect with them, it’s time to communicate your marketing message in a way that’s most likely to engage them.

Communication process


ISM offers Marcomms courses…visit to find out more

The majority of people will respond better if they read about your product or services through a third party, for example in the press or an online review. This develops credibility in people’s minds, because if a respected news source likes your product, potential customers are more likely to try it out.

For example, to establish this trust the owner of the high-end boutique will want to build relationships with the local media: newspapers, lifestyle magazines, and fashion bloggers. Depending on where the IT company wishes to export it’s knowledge to, it would develop both local and international media links.

Yet, however important media reviews are, they are only part of the marketing mix. Once you’ve established who your customers are, you have to integrate your marketing communications into your overall marketing plan and make a firm budget, broken down into different segments such as the following:

  • Advertising spend
  • Promotional product spend
  • Cost of prizes
  • Mailshot costs
  • Email shot costs
  • Website build/maintenance
  • In-store promotional material costs
  • Exhibition stand costs
  • Building media contacts

This plan will be based on how effectively your customer base will respond to the different strands and will help you spend your budget wisely.

burj khalifa

Dubai certainly had reason to celebrate with the EXPO 2020 win last night….great PR opportunities await…

Not all businesses have the budget of Emirates airlines to spend on their public relations. But having a little or no PR budget shouldn’t stop you from doing it yourself. PR is a key part of building awareness of your business brand and to show people how it is relevant to their personal or business life.

Get to know the press

The most important part of PR is getting to know the press very well – and letting them get to know you. PR is a people business. Creating relationships and building trust is essential to getting your story out into the world. Don’t just write up a press release, find a list of names and send the email blind. At best your story will be stacked up for a slow news day, at worst it will be dumped in the bin. This is because the reporters need to know the source is good, and the only way they’ll know it is if you take the time to talk to them personally.

So before you even write the press release, construct the survey, or begin your social media campaign, take the time to talk to the people you want to work with. Either ring them, or even better, try and meet them at a conference or industry event. Making a personal connection with people working in the media will give you a much greater chance of your story getting into the press when you want it to.

The press release

One of the biggest sources of company stories is the press release. Most of the time journalists and bloggers are very busy and if the press release has everything in it that is required for print, it will have a better chance of being printed. The press release is very traditional and it can work really well if done properly. If you have never written one before, take the time to study how a good one is written. The best press releases are often printed almost exactly as they are sent out. That’s because the writer has found out the average word count (the number of words in the article) the media outlet usually prints, has identified the news angle most likely to draw attention straight away (e.g. patients are seen quicker with a new patient logging system), and written the press release as though it were a news article, including quotes from customers or an industry spokesperson to back up any claims made.

The survey

Crime figures lowered by using a certain security business, aging lines significantly reduced by using a certain lotion, drinking this, eating that wont/will pile on the pounds: we’ve all seen the headlines in newspapers and magazines. But behind the stats and stories lies a well honed PR machine paid by big business to keep their brand profile in the public eye, or launching new products or services into the world.

Being on a tight budget means you have to cut out the expensive PR firm and learn how to do it yourself.

Firstly, take a look through the papers, magazines, blogs and websites most likely to be read by your target audience. Then identify how your business can help customers. Sometimes this is simply showing how using your products has saved people money, improved efficiency, or helped people make time for their families. And then create a survey to back up what you believe is true. You may think your new office chair will reduce back pain, but without the empirical evidence of your customers, no-one will truly believe you. It’s very easy to do online now with sites such as Survey Monkey. Load up your questions and send out an invitation (possibly with a prize attached of 10 percent off their next purchase to encourage people to take part) via email to your current mailing list. When people fill in the survey, the site allows you to view the results in a series of graphs, breaking down the demographics for you, so you can compile a story based on the results.

Surveys are a great way to gauge how your customers really feel about your company. If the results aren’t what you expected, that’s perfect for honing your products to give your customers what they really want.

Social media

Social media can be an incredibly powerful PR tool. Get it right and your business will grow as a result. But get it wrong and you’ll end up spending a lot of time and possibly money repairing the damage. Which is why, if you are trying to do your own PR, it’s really important to spend time understanding the different social media vehicles and choosing the right one for your business. If you are selling make-up and you spend all your time on LinkedIn, you aren’t going to reach your target market. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube are much better avenues for you to pursue.


PR can be done on a small budget, but like all tightly controlled financial endeavours, if you move too early without thinking it through properly, you could end up wasting a lot of time with nothing to show for it. Better to plan thoroughly, and research carefully, before dipping your toe into the public relations arena.



Think Coca Cola and you’ll probably be thinking red and white. Starbucks and you’ll have a bit of green, whiff of coffee and young people serving you with a smile. These two are great examples of how a brand can impose itself into your psyche without you even realising it. And that’s the holy grail of branding for even the smallest of companies.

Whether you own a small boutique in the Dubai Mall, or are an accountancy practice serving the whole of EMEA, do you know what your brand stands for in the minds of your customers? Do they instantly think of your logo? Or something more intangible, like your great/poor customer service?

Getting your branding right is a key part of your marketing efforts. So the first step is to find out what your brand should stand for, and then discovering what it actually means right now to your customers. The two points could be further apart than you imagine.

A brand isn’t just your logo (although with Coca Cola that’s often the first thing people think about). It is how people perceive your business, how they feel when your business name is mentioned. If you’re a restaurant it will be the food you serve, but also the experience they have while eating in your restaurant.

Understanding how people feel about your business gives you the ability to change aspects of your customer facing business. You can enhance the positives and make necessary changes to the negatives. A little market research should bring back the answers to how your customers feel about your company. And its how they experience your business, not what you think you are doing, that matters to a customer.

The main questions you need to ask customers are:

Do you deliver on your promises?

The online society allows customers easy access to other companies who offer the same products and services that you do. This is why it’s essential a customer feels their demands are satisfied when they choose you over another provider.

Are you offering the right product/service?

Harley Perfume

Brand over extension …never really caught on. What do you think of this, would you buy it?

No industry exists in a vacuum. What was desired and needed ten years ago could be outmoded now. Do your customers feel your products and services are still relevant to their lifestyles or business needs?

Is your brand easy to understand?

Do your customers know what you stand for? You may feel saying that “accountancy services” should cover it, but do you specialise in certain areas? As a boutique do customers immediately think of you when they want a new dress, or do you offer a confusing range of clothes, jewellery, home wares and knick knacks that make them likely to visit another store instead? Understanding how your customers make decisions will help you position your company more easily in their minds.

Is your business easy to recall?

Unless you are the only company in the world selling one particular item, you have to distinguish yourself from the competition. It’s very difficult, and expensive, to become the market leader, the Coca Cola of your industry, but having a well-designed brand and a reputation for being good at what you do, will help keep your company’s name at the forefront of people’s minds when they need the product/service you sell.

Do your customer’s feel emotionally engaged?

Do they love your product/service? Is there a particular salesperson who makes their day when they get in touch, or serves them over the counter? Is your presence on social media making them happy, or annoying them? Emotional engagement can take many forms, so ask your customers what it is about your business that makes them happy. And, of course, what doesn’t!

Discovering what your customers feel about your business will help you understand what your brand stands for in the world outside. But don’t forget your employees. Ask them the same questions – their experience of working for you will help you gain a more rounded understanding of your brand.

Mona Lisa

Is your business as compelling as the Mona Lisa? Do you have an audience for your product?

Market research is the backbone of every company if it wants to maintain and grow profitability. Yet many companies ignore their market research, or don’t do any at all. However, whether you’re selling a new insurance product, or want to set up an art gallery in Bastakiya, research is the key ingredient to success.

At its core, market research is all about finding out what people love and hate about your company. If you’re founding a new business, your market research is aimed at finding out whether people actually want what you are planning to sell.

Market research gives isn’t just an exercise, it can have a powerful impact on your business, helping you make difficult decisions because you are armed with the knowledge to back up your arguments.

For those who’ve never done any market research the humble questionnaire is still considered a highly effective way to learn about your customers. There are many online tools to help you set up a detailed set of questions to help you better understand how your company is perceived by the people who buy your products.

Be honest with your questions though. Give people the opportunity to rate your business. Ask them what they like and don’t like. Where they feel there is room for improvement.What’s the best thing you’ve ever done, and the worst. Ask how your products impact on their lives. How long they’ve been a customer, and most importantly what they feel you can do to make improvements that will make their lives better.

The questionnaire is also a great way to find out what customers feel about your competition. Are they doing a better job than you? Is there something you are doing much better than they are? By asking the questions you can improve your position in the market.

You may not like all the answers you see, but you may find that the negative feedback you receive on a particular product is also being seen in the annual sales figures for that product. And if people have left comments on why they don’t like it, you can make a more informed decision on the future of that particular line in your business.

Conversely, lots of love for a particular product may give you the confidence to put more marketing budget into promoting it beyond your current customer base.

Market research doesn’t have to be something you actively go out and do. One of the most amazingly truthful, and free, market research tools is customer feedback. This can come through social media (Twitter and Facebook are great for finding out what people are saying about your brand), emails, letters, and recorded telephone calls.

Where some companies go wrong with this type of market research is that they embrace the good and ignore the bad. But they shouldn’t. Negative feedback is a fantastic opportunity to see what customers really don’t like about your products, services, or business. The comments are usually honest – although you should have a system in place to sift out the trolls. By reading what customers are saying you can develop ways to make improvements, or even set about designing a new product that serves their needs better.

To get the most out of market research, you have to be tough enough to read the answers and do something about it. Don’t leave it languishing on your hard drive – face up to the challenges it provokes.

Despite what many believe, a website is more than just a brochure site for you business. It’s the first thing people will look at when finding out more about your business. So whether you’re a swanky Deira restaurant or are just setting up shop in the Dubai Mall, avoid the following to boost your online presence.

Poor design



Crazy colours on your website can be a huge turn off...

There are few things more likely to put off customers than a badly designed website. Remember the old sales adage “dress like you’re going to meet your ideal customer”? Well the same goes for your website. Glaring colour schemes and images that are the wrong size for the space are akin to wearing a tatty suit and ultra loud tie. Find a website design agency you can work with, and meets your budget criteria, and give your site a thorough overhaul.

Broken Links

Even if your design is passable, just one broken link will put visitors off. Go through your site and make sure every single link on the site works. You may not have the time to do this yourself, but do ensure the person given the task is up to the job.

Terrible navigation

There are two standard ways to help visitors navigate through your website – and only one that really works. Some people still use a side navigation bar, but the way forward is quick links at the top of the page to the most important pages on your site.

The most important links are your home page button, the products or services button, and the contact page button. Secondary to this are the About Us page, offers (if that is something key to business), and support/help button (if you are the type of business whose customers are support orientated).

The modern way to place the rest of your navigation buttons is at the bottom of the page. This is called the footer and, as long as it’s well laid out, can contain a huge number of links to other parts of the website.

For a generation of people who’ve grown up with the web, great navigation is essential.

Media that makes you cringe

You’ll see a lot of video on homepages these days. The reason it that is people take in visual information more quickly than words. However, if you’re video doesn’t load properly, is in the wrong language, is badly produced and sounds tinny, the result will drive people away.

If you are going to have video on your homepage make it good. One problem some companies have is their market is multi-lingual. The way around this issue is to make two videos, one in the first language of your market, and the other in the second language. Not only does this get the message across to everyone you want it to, it also shows potential customers you care enough about them to make the effort.

Dreadful content

Only an amazing website will overcome the problem of dreadful content. Content ranges from the main pages on your website, your blog, your product descriptions and your service explanations. Take the time to write carefully, or employ a copywriter who’ll help you put across your message in the right way to attract customers.

Social Media fails

Content can also mean the social media you have on your site. Some businesses have their Twitter feed on their homepage. This is a great way of interacting with customers, but only if you are committed to updating your Twitter account regularly. A rolling feed from a year ago won’t inspire confidence.

The same goes for your blog. If you have one, you need to keep it up-to-date. A blog is a great place to tell customers what you’ve been doing, upload pictures and videos from events, and can show your industry knowledge.


Your website is an incredible sales tool. Make it the best it can be to attract customers and win more business.

Marketing is an essential activity for any business, but it’s often difficult for new companies to know where to start. Here are three tops marketing tips that wont break the bank, but will get your marketing strategy off the ground.

Become a great networker

Yep the networking game is daunting, is often filled with time wasters and can be highly repetitive. However, it can also hold the key to accessing your next biggest client.

Networking is about building relationships, and building those relationships takes time. It’s not a quick fix for finding new clients; you have to put the effort in to get the work out of it. So don’t be pushy, don’t try to sell your business to the first person you meet. You have to get to know people and, more crucially, they have to get to know you.

Because trust doesn’t happen in the first couple of meetings, you have to select your networking carefully. Do some research. Many networking groups allow people to visit before joining. Go along to as many as you can in your area and see which one suits you and your business needs.

Once you’ve established one or two groups to go to, make the effort to turn up regularly and you’ll start to make connections. Some of those may not even be people in the room. Every person in a networking group has a huge number of their own contacts, and you’ll often find that the work comes from external contacts.

Remember: when a group of people start to trust you, they’ll start to see the worth in your business and either make an appointment to find out more for themselves, or pass on you details to someone in their own network.


blog badge

ISM needs to be recognised as a great local resource !

Being recognised with an award is a great way to market your company. An award promotes confidence in both you current customer and prospective customers.

There are lots of awards out there; it’s just a matter of finding the right ones for you. The first place to check is industry specific publications, then move onto local government awards, and then spread your net a little wider for left-field awards such as your online customer service.

Understand the criteria for applying and then put yourself forward. Winning is the aim, but if you don’t win the first year you enter, try again the following year.

And when you do win an award make a big deal of it – use it in e-shots, blog about it; add any badges to your website. It’s all about showing your customers and clients that you merit their attention.


Research your local newspaper reporters, online industry journalists and bloggers. They are the lifeblood of publicity and can be a really effective marketing tool for your business.

Your local newspapers will always be on the look out for stories about local businesses. Remember that award you won? Send a press release to the local paper– but make sure it’s a well written press release because the better it scans to the journalist the more likely they are to run the story, or even ring you up for more information.

Building up contacts in the press will help you market your business. You can reach a larger audience through news articles. When the article is written by someone trusted for their professional opinion, another layer of trust is given to your business.

Whether you are marketing a company in Dubai, Cairo or Sydney, the basics of publicity are the same. Just like networking, take your time to build up contacts. Don’t rush it, get too pushy, or become unpleasant. The least that can happen is you won’t get any press at all, but the worst… well bad publicity in the internet era is the last thing you need.


Nowadays, to be successful, your marketing strategy has to intelligently combine old and new mediums. Offline and online have to do more than simply passively co-exist, they have to support, nurture, and feed each other proactively.

It’s no longer effective to split your offline and online strategies; they have to be seen as a whole. Your shop, product, or branding experience should be mirrored on your website and throughout your digital footprint.

For example, in the offline world your point of sale display should have a QR Code, Twitter name or Twitter hashtag. This gives customers the ability to continue their journey with your business into the online world.

Once they make the effort to go online to see your virtual offering, make the journey exciting, interesting, and most of all, engaging. By offering customers money off vouchers for their next shop, the opportunity to win goodies, or let them download a free app, you’re on your way to integrating online and offline experiences. And you’ll be doing it in a subtle and fun way.

That’s just one simple aspect of an integrated marketing strategy. Every small aspect of your marketing strategy should be linked to the overall strategy. So if you’re giving people the opportunity to win free goodies, make them aware of it on more than one channel.

You can create one page on your website to direct people towards. Shout about it on Twitter, Facebook, on your own blog and through bloggers you’ve built a relationship with, e-shots, flyers, and small, mid season brochures. If you’re product is very visual, use Pinterest and YouTube.

taste stands

You've just missed the food festival in Dubai this year... but there's always next !

Offline you want to replicate this sense of community with traditional one-off in store promotions, guerrilla street marketing, billboard and mobile advertising, and customer satisfaction actions such as vox pop, giveaways and tasting stands.


At designated stages throughout the year, your marketing team will be producing analytical data. Data is a really good tool for seeing which areas of your marketing strategies are working, and which aren’t.

Good analytics will also tell you which areas are interacting most effectively. This way you’ll see how well a combination of in store promotions and online competitions works together.

Used properly, data analysis helps marketing and sales departments pinpoint natural sales points and areas that need further work.


Don’t look at social media, in store promotions, special events, and billboard advertising as separate entities. View them as part of an organic whole. Each activity blends together to create an overall concept of your business in your customer’s mind.

If you don’t know what your over-riding message to your customer is, and how to parlay that throughout every aspect of your marketing, your customer isn’t going to understand and appreciate what you’re offering.

Creating a well thought out, integrated marketing strategy requires time and effort, but without one you’re left with a scattered approach that will be less effective, and more time consuming to correct, in the long run.




A marketing sound bite can shake us out of old ways of thinking and look at problems in a different light. The following inspirational marketing quotes are great motivators. They’re excellent for personal reflection, or to kick off a brain storming session with your marketing team.

1. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” Steve Jobs, Apple

2. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Peter F. Drucker

3. “Instead of one-way interruption, web marketing is about delivering useful content at precisely the right moment when a buyer needs it.” David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR

4. “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing

5. “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” Mark Twain

6. “If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” Guy Kawasaki

7. “Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm, and ideas about how to solve that problem.” Laura Fitton,

8. “The aim of marketing is to get customers to know, like and trust you.” Unknown

9. “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.” Craig Davis, Founder of Brandkarma

10. “Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.” Bo Bennett, Adgrafix

11. “In today’s information age of Marketing and Web 2.0, a company’s website is the key to their entire business.” Marcus Sheridan, author of The Sales Lion blog

12. “Transforming a brand into a socially responsible leader doesn’t happen overnight by simply writing new marketing and advertising strategies. It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values.” Simon Mainwaring, founder We First

Vivienne Westwood

Her first shop was called "SEX" which certainly caught the public's attention...

13. “But, the thing is, since I always had my own little shop and direct access to the public, I’ve been able to build up a technique without marketing people ever telling me what the public wants.” Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer

14. “Pop culture is not about depth. It’s about marketing, supply and demand consumerism.” Trevor Dunn, Composer

15. “Your culture is your brand.” Tony Hsieh, CEO

16. “I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes.” David Ogilvy

18. “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.” Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs

19. “Increasingly, the mass marketing is turning into a mass of niches.” Chris Anderson, author of the Long Tail

20. “There are no magic wands, no hidden tricks, and no secret handshakes that can bring you immediate success, but with time, energy, and determination, you can get there.” Darren Rowse, Founder of Problogger

21. “Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” Milton Hershey, the Hershey Chocolate Company





At its best Guerrilla marketing is a low-cost way of boosting your company profile, as well as profits. At its worst, you efforts could fall flat, or even damage your company’s reputation.

So how do you avoid the latter? Guerrilla marketing has been around since the term was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book, Guerrilla Marketing. Essentially it is an advertising strategy using unusual techniques to create a buzz around a product or company, without blowing the budget.

However, in recent times, big budget is often what is needed as large corporations and charities use it to get their message across. A recent example got LG international coverage for their television screens. Placing screens inside an elevator, when people got in the screens showed the floor falling away – scaring the elevator passengers, and getting LG the kind of viral coverage unheard of through traditional marketing.

On the face of it, this was a relatively small layout for the company considering how much attention they received from the world’s press outlets. But for small businesses this kind of financial layout isn’t possible.

It needn’t be that way. For small businesses, especially those who know the audience they want to target, guerrilla marketing can be also be effective, you just have to be more imaginative.

guerilla marketing

Even better when the cavities get exposed !

For example, a dental firm wrapped paper gums and tearaway teeth around telegraph poles. Passers-by could tear off the teeth to get the dentists details. It was fun, creative, and easy for people to interact with.

Another simple example of guerrilla marketing is to have a series of arrows, feet chalked onto the pavement, leading people to your shop front, or office. This is where you have to be careful though. There has to be a pay-off for the inquisitive person following your trail… a give-away or some money off your promotion line. Don’t leave people hanging or you’ll do more harm than good.

The trick to good guerrilla marketing is to leave people smiling, or to provoke a positive reaction. Toothpaste manufacturer Colgate used wooden stick inside an ice cream in a way that surprised and gently reminded people to clean their teeth. As the ice cream was eaten the hidden part of the stick was revealed to be a wooden toothbrush. Along the side were the words ‘don’t forget’. Simple, yet brilliant.

It’s all about surprising people. Taking an ordinary situation and turning into something that makes people stop and take notice. Wherever you find lots of people gathering is the best place to start. Yet even the traditional marketing tool, the carrier bag, can be turned on its head.

Guerrilla Marketing is an established tool, so get creative, look around the net for inspiration, and make the most of your marketing budget.


Whether you have a small online shop or are a multinational corporation, your brand identity is one of the most important sales tools you have. So how do you make your brand work harder for your business?

There is only one place to start: take a good look at your product or service and figure out what it means to your customers. This knowledge gives you the ability to improve how your customers perceive your brand.

A great way to start this process is to use the four pillars of branding:

Differentiation – How is your brand different from your competitors?

Finding the difference can be a tough task. There are few examples of being totally unique. If you’re the only person in the world who can write a particular kind of software, you are unique.

However, if you are selling a bar of chocolate you have to create the difference. That could be achieved through using high quality ingredients, rare ingredients, making a healthier bar, or through a compelling back-story. Quite simply you have to find the difference.

Relevance – Do your customers find your product or service relevant in their lives?


Even squirrels have got the Malteser message...

If your product or service is something your customers can get anywhere you have find a way to make your customers think of you first. Using the chocolate bar as an example, why is it more relevant to someone? The Malteser’s slogan is ‘Let your lighter side out’. They’re telling their customers that they can enjoy their chocolate guilt free because it’s not a heavy indulgence.

Esteem ­– Is there a high level of respect for what you do or sell?

It’s important that your customers respect your brand. You have to be authentic with people because if you say you can do something and fail, you’ll lose respect. If you are selling your chocolate on the back of high quality ingredients, you must be able to support that claim.

Knowledge – Do your customer know what you stand for?

An educated customer base is more loyal. Give them the information to understand what your core values and beliefs are, what your products are and what you can do for them. Looking at the chocolate bar again, you have to ensure that people choose your bar because they know the ingredients are good. You can tell them through a mix of package design, and website information.

Armed with this new knowledge about your business, you can start to turn your brand into something bigger and stronger. Here are some simple ways to start the process:

  • Take the time to have a good logo designed because that will become synonymous with your brand.
  • Write a great slogan because this will help people quickly understand what makes you different from your competitors.
  • Make your packaging, marketing literature and website look great – everyone responds more positively to quality presentation.
  • If you’re using social media be active – a quiet Twitter account and empty Facebook page make you look like you don’t care about your customers.
  • Respond quickly to complaints because you’ll garner greater respect for being nice than for ignoring people.
  • Use your website – this is the perfect space for educating people about your brand and by making it a great space for people to visit, your brand will be able to grow in your customers minds.



You can learn a lot about product placement in shops by looking around your local supermarket. Competition for customers is so fierce that supermarkets no longer rely on simple price comparisons to get people into their shops.

Here are nine ways supermarkets arrange their stores to maximise profit:

Front of store

There are two trends you’ll notice at the front of any store. One is usually the fresh fruit and vegetables and the other is quick items like sandwiches and flowers. The quick items are there because supermarkets understand that some people are literally only going to nip in and out and will react better to what they need being easily accessible. The fruit and vegetables look better in natural light and also the expanse of green puts shoppers in a better frame of mind. This is because green is a relaxing colour.

End of aisle

Shoppers don’t naturally go up and down every aisle in a supermarket. They dip in and out of the ones they need to go down. Which is why the end of each aisle is so valuable. Here shoppers are more likely to react positively to discounted ranges, promotions for new products, and two for one offers.

High traffic zones

In every store there are areas that shoppers pass through most frequently. These are the best places for sample stands, or to promote new products, or to sell discounted items quickly. It’s also where impulse buy products are most likely to be found.

Big no no’s

In today’s supermarkets you can buy just about anything, but you’ll never find the clothing section right next to fresh food. There is always a buffer zone of dried food, cosmetics, home accessories, or electronics. This is because research shows clothes and food don’t naturally mix in people’s minds.

Flooring and shelves

Premium products have subtly different surroundings than every day products. In some shops the flooring turns from linoleum to wood when you enter the alcohol section. Expensive and exotic ingredients are often on differently colour display units, than everyday ingredients. The surroundings encourage shoppers to feel they are making a special purchase.

Eye level shopping

 grocery store dubai

Best to ask in a neighborhood store if you want to find something as space is at a premium !

Eye level placement of products is a great method to increase sales. A product will sell significantly more if it is on the eye level of the target buyer. So products aimed at children, like soft cheeses and cheese sticks are slightly lower so the child can see them and alert their parents to put them in the trolley. A higher value product is often placed on the middle shelf so that people are more likely to see it and buy it. Those looking for value range products will usually find them down at ankle level.

Impulse buys at the till

Supermarkets know what shoppers will find most appealing dependent on the weather. On rainy days you’ll find umbrellas next to tills, on bright sunny days, it’ll be sunglasses. And as you queue up, there are usually an array of sweets, magazines, and easy to handle promotional literature to grab your attention.

Side by side

Some products are placed next to others deliberately. You’ll often find crisps and soft drinks very close because the purchase of one leads to an increase in sales of the other.

Future Research

The research behind product placement in supermarket is getting very high tech. Security cameras can now transmit behaviour data back to computers. Originally used to analyse anti-social behaviour, the software is increasingly attracting the attention of supermarkets. Shopper behaviour can be monitored and product placement changed to increase sales.


When budgets are tight it’s hard to see how to spend those valuable marketing dirhams wisely. But effective marketing is possible; you just have to be smart in your planning.

Discover your USP

If you don’t know what differentiates your product or service from the next guy, then how do you expect your customers to?

You have to have a Unique Selling Point. Something that makes you different, a way of doing business that makes you stand out from your competitors. Identify your USP – then use it in your marketing. Push it to the front of people’s minds; get people to understand why your company’s way of doing business is worth buying into.

Research the market

A small marketing budget means spending time researching the best place to spend you money. A scattergun approach will yield poor results and you’ll have no concrete method of measuring those results.

Even the international corporations use marketing analytics to better understand their marketplace. Knowing how to market a product effectively is worth the time spent researching.

For example, if you are selling a new type of dumbbell that is slightly more expensive than average weight equipment, you need to know which location is going to be more receptive to the higher price. Get out and have a look around, go online and check the prices there. You’ll quickly build up a profile of which streets, cities and online areas are best for your premium product.

Understand your customer

If you don’t have a clue what your customer wants, how can you sell them your product. Or rather, do you firmly believe that your product or service is so ground-breaking that people will instantly see the benefit of it?

If you can’t think like your customer, get out there and ask them. Not all, just some, the ones you want to buy from you would be a good start.

Tell a great story

In marketing it’s all about the story. Tell a great story and people are more likely to buy your product. Even cheap products need a little bit of a story, even if it’s about why cheap is good. A premium product needs a really good story: where the ingredients have been sourced, how long it takes to mature, how much more effective it is for smoothing wrinkles, etc.

harley davidson

"Live to ride", create a culture around your product.

Get the story right and you’re half way there.

Invest in good design

People react consciously and unconsciously to the design of a product, website, point of sale merchandising. You may not be able to afford a good designer on your payroll, but it’s worth investing in a good freelance to get your new product or service off the ground.

Choose your staff carefully

When you are marketing on a tight budget you need to hire well. Think about what attributes you really need to make your marketing team smarter and more adaptive. Do you need someone who is great at analytics, SEO, copywriting, strategy, or all four?

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?



Are you creating enough of a buzz around your products ?

Just about every website has a couple of social media buttons, but just how effective have your social media efforts been? Are you really making the most of the opportunity to market your Dubai-based company on the internet?

Well the answer is no if you are simply Tweeting, updating Facebook occasionally or just sat there watching your LinkedIn account.

Social media isn’t a stand-alone component of your marketing plan. By integrating social media with the rest of marketing activities, your chances of success significantly improve.

More and more, marketing departments are realising that they need a cohesive strategy based around something called Content Marketing. This is where you create content on your website (and social media sites) to disseminate across social media and traditional media, to increase awareness of your product or company.

The concept of Content Marketing is fairly new, but as with all new marketing ideas, planning is the key to making it a success.

The 12 month plan

This is your master plan, with milestones plotted in. Every good marketing department should already have one of these. It gives you and your team a firm foundation of what is going on. You place each product launch, each marketing effort, industry conference and exhibition on your plan.

Example: if you are creating a TV ad you pencil in the air date, the date you are posting it on YouTube and when you are going to mention it on the company blog.

The six month plan

Here you give your marketing team a clear target to hit at the half way point. Everyone in the team should have a personalised version of the six month plan showing what they and their team are aiming to achieve during this period.

Example: The web designer will have a list of pages to be set up on the website to promote the new ad, a competition, the company podcast, or the company magazine.

The 3 month plan

This is the workhorse plan. Each day (or hour on some days) should have a detailed ‘to do’ list. Actions taken on a daily basis will build up the momentum to turn the 12 month plan into a success story.

Example: The person in charge of social media will have dates for when to tweet, update Facebook and LinkedIn to tell everyone about the new ad (competition, podcast, etc) and where they can see it.

Using Social Media to enhance content

When it comes to social media, you have to evaluate where your company will make the most impact. Think of social media almost like weaving. Use your Twitter account to link to your latest blog post, the video you uploaded to YouTube, the competition you have on Pinterest or Facebook. Then have a link from YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn back to pages specifically set up for the competition, blog, video, on your website.

The essentials of content marketing for a Dubai company is no different from that of a New York company. But it isn’t a simple thing to achieve. It is a full time job. But done properly, it will build a buzz around your products and your company on the internet.




Look after your brand advocates ...they are magical creatures.

Do you have customers who really love your product or services? Do they blog about the latest product launch at the Dubai Mall? Well if you do, congratulations… you have yourself a bone fide brand advocate.

If you’ve not heard about brand advocates before, they are the customers who love your brand so much they tell other people about it. In the past this was someone who told their neighbour and their friends and family how great your brand was. In the age of the internet, they are more likely to be spreading the love through blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

You may not think that your line of business lends itself to the notion of a brand advocate. And although an accountancy firm will not get many pins on Pinterest, they may get some excellent feedback on the LinkedIn forums.

You may not even be aware you have someone out there telling everyone how great you are. Which is why it’s important for you have someone in your office (or outsource if it’s easier) who can watch your social media profile and identify the brand advocates out there.

Once you’ve found some people who are saying nice things about you, don’t go diving in and asking them around for dinner. Stop and consider who they are, what they are saying, and whom they are saying it to. It may not be necessary to contact them immediately, but it would be nice if they’ve mentioned you on Twitter to thank them for the mention.

If you don’t find any, don’t worry. There are ways of building an environment that help people who love your company’s products or services become brand advocates. And the best thing about having an advocate is it can become a genuinely nice relationship. It can be rewarding for both your company and the advocate themselves.

One fledgling UK make-up manufacturer created a great reward system to build advocates online. They asked their Twitter followers and Facebook fans to post pictures and videos of themselves using the make-up, and then retweeted or shared the picture on Twitter and Facebook. This type of reciprocation is valuable in social media, giving people the opportunity to interact with like-minded people.

At the launch of their products in stores, they promoted it through social media and offered a free sample bag to a certain number of people who were the first to arrive. People then tweeted about receiving the bag and posted pictures online.

You can’t always contain your brand advocates, and you need to be aware of the distinction between an advocate and someone who is trying to make money off the back of your brand. There are many examples of fans trying to sell products that are a little too close to the brand for comfort. A famous example of this was when a Harry Potter fan tried to publish the Harry Potter lexicon. It was the subject of a lawsuit, but did eventually get published, but in a shorter form than the original.

Every business is different, and you should consider carefully how best to build up a brand following. What works for a make-up manufacturer, may not work so well for the accountancy firm. But the main consideration is how you want your brand to be perceived, and promoted, and how to turn a person who simply loves your product into a brand advocate for that product.

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.


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.


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.

It may well be difficult to quantify what adds value to a product or service, but your Dubai marketing agency needs strong parameters to describe what is good value, honest value, any kind of value, and how they can be applied in your work.

Sometimes it is easy to spot added value. Look around the Dubai Mall at the different jewellery shops – which ones make their jewellery sell better? What kind of added value do they provide to entice shoppers to spend more time, more money, in their particular shop?

In some shops the added value comes through creating plenty of space around the jewellery counters. This gives people plenty of space to look at the products. Putting your customers at ease while they spend time in a shop adds value to their experience. Place comfortable seating around the shop also helps customers, particularly in clothes shops, a chair or ottoman gives tired spouses and children a place to rest.

Transferring this physical shopping experience into the marketing of a product means looking at everything: from the product design through to the promotional stands. You can add value to a product by making the design of the packaging much more appealing than a competing product. Nowhere is this difference so stark as in the trainer market. Nike has taken the product design to a whole new level by having dedicated places within their stores (as well as online) where customers can customise their Nike trainers themselves.

This has taken added value to a whole new other level. Adding value for internet shoppers has become a sophisticated business. Not so many years ago it was good enough to offer a gift wrapping and card writing service to customers. Now the game has changed dramatically. Not only are stores offering customisation, there are blogs, tips of the week, tips of the day, how-to videos and how-to articles, guest spots, competitions on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and serious and enlightening contributions on LinkedIn.

This level of adding value around a product is called content marketing. It’s the current buzz word for anyone marketing a product. By creating a world of information that people find interesting and tell their friends about, the purchase decision is made easier once they become much more engaged with your brand.

A way of pulling all this added value together is to go back and focus on the subtle and not so subtle marketing in the Dubai mall. Walk along the beauty counter and see how women are attracted to the special offer of a pretty and carefully branded bag filled with travel sized tubs and tubes of creams and lotions. There might be a little QR Code encouraging them to download the app that lets them see which bag is best for them, or even give them a tutorial on the best way to apply the products. There will also be a website link on the product leaflet offering them the chance to buy on line, if they don’t buy straight away in store.

All these little things add up to adding value to the product. Isn’t it time your Dubai marketing team took themselves for a trip out to see how real life added value is seamlessly integrated with online marketing?

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.


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.

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


Small Business Computing –

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: /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.

Typically of a city renowned for the quick uptake of new technology, augmented reality has firmly made its mark in Dubai with the launch this month of the beautiful Porsche designed Blackberry P’9981.

Blackberry porsche design phone

Blackberry Porsche 'blinging' AR to Dubai

The smartphone comes with Blackberry’s own augmented reality app, Wikitude, built in. Obviously, it is not only the rare owners of the Porsche designed smartphone (which looks like it will retail at around $2,000 and is only available in the Porsche shop) who use Wikitude. Voted best Augmented Reality Browser for three years in a row (2009, 2010, 2011), Wikitude has over 150 million places and interactive content.

So why has augmented reality become such a massive hit? Go back a couple of years and many were talking of its early demise. But, as with other cutting edge technology that couldn’t find it’s audience, the increasingly powerful smartphone market has allowed it to flourish.

AR apps like Wikitude gives users the tools to create their own augmented reality, you can tag hotels, restaurants, your own home, meeting points with information that others can easily see when they point their smartphones at their surroundings. If you sufficiently tech savvy, you might want to show off with an animation. And it is the big fun interactive element that has made it a really take off.

For lovers of social media it is a great way to get your Facebook page, Twitter name, LinkedIn profile, or YouTube videos out in the public domain as well. Say you work in Hilton Dubai Creek, you can tag the building with your details and anyone in your AR network will easily find your online details as well as manning the reception desk.

Of course, Dubai is no stranger to augmented reality. Go to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing website, and you can download the DefinitelyDubai augmented reality smartphone app. The app allows users to see what is going on in the city. By pointing your smartphone along any street in the city, the camera allows you to see buildings overlaid with labels that tell you what is happening inside.

Although the premium price of a Porsche Blackberry places it outside the range of most people, augmented reality apps are available for most smartphones, making it a marketing opportunity not to missed.

Augmented reality is science fiction made fact. Want to know how the showroom sofa would look in your home, download the app and you can quickly find out. By getting people to interact with products on their phones, there is real possibility they’ll be more likely to go into a store and buy it.

Where once AR demanded too much oomph from your laptop or computer, the processing power of smartphones has given it the kiss of life that means it will become part of everyday life in the not too distant future. Although many considered augmented reality a short lived gimmick, the gimmick has quickly become a favourite of advertising agencies and the general public alike. Ignoring its power to inform and entertain the clued-in Dubai consumers will leave you eating the dust of more streetwise competitors.

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 /courses/market-research/index.php

Verre Dubai

Will the new Table 9 beat the old Dubai location with a new concept?

Last month saw the close of one of Dubai’s first celebrity chef restaurants “Verre” by Gordon Ramsay; it will be reopened in the same location by two of his hardworking and talented protégées as “Table 9”. My question is whether this makes sound business sense given the shifting sands of Dubai’s retail hubs and whether enough time has been dedicated to market research. Sometimes it makes sense to look a gift horse in the mouth. Verre, Gordon Ramsay’s first international restaurant opened in 2001 and is located in the Dubai Creek Hilton. The Dubai creek which divides the areas of Bur Dubai and Deira played a large role in shaping the fortunes of Dubai Emirate. After dredging in 1961 and again in the 70’s, the creek was established as a major commercial hub and gold re-export reinvigorated the fortunes of the Al Maktoums allowing them to develop Dubai’s infrastructure. Later establishment of the Jebel Ali Port and free zone shifted the focus of trading activity from the creek and today only traditional dhows offload in this historic centre.

Jumeirah Walk

Tables are hard to come by on the popular Jumeirah Walk in New Dubai

In the ten years since Verre opened Dubai has rapidly expanded with new urban centres, megamalls and hundreds of restaurants to choose from, offering international cuisine to fit all pockets. Dubai residents that may be Table 9’s target market now mostly live within easy reach of the popular Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Lake Residence areas and more often than not would dine out there to avoid traffic. Although not privy to Verre’s table bookings (and not planning to steal the reservation book), I would venture that this geographic isolation coupled with the expense of dining there in the economic downturn has impacted on their profits over the last few years. Only time will tell whether the award winning chefs and their more affordable menu is attractive enough to pull in the punters.

Similar mistakes and insufficient market research have led to the opening and swift closing of many restaurants. Spice Lounge at the end of Al Wasl road which offered high end Indian fusion fare and failed to compete with more established restaurants like the ever popular Ravi, currently is under renovation. Unsurprising, given the low income demographics of this area and overwhelming value choices available.

Market research could help avoid mistakes and act as a base for your marketing strategy; it might even reveal how bad your business idea is. You need to know which customers are likely to buy your product, determine if there are enough of them for your business to make a healthy profit and whether their needs are being fulfilled by a competitor. Market research information helps you develop short and long term plans and reduce your business risks especially in a competitive multicultural environment. Arthur Conan Doyle said – “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

Of course many successful entrepreneurs act instinctively and would hate to stifle creativity with crushing statistics but the best are also risk avoiders. ISM training will be running a Market Research and Intelligence course on the 7th December, please contact [email protected] for more details.

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.

From its inception in 2005 when Lapitsky and Kim uploaded the first video ”Me at the Zoo”, You Tube has become the world’s most popular online video community with over 3 billion videos viewed each day.

It is a hub for communities and individuals to distribute original content to connect, enlighten and stimulate a global audience. It has a more diverse demographic than you might think with 20% of its viewers over the age of 55, it really is reaching out across all age groups.

It is proving to be a fertile ground for advertisers with producers of online videos making money as You Tube partners or individuals. The largest advertising companies in the world are running campaigns on You Tube and display ads have increased 10 fold or more in the last year.

Whether you want to entertain, inform or persuade is a decision that will affect how much popular appeal your video has but your decision should be weighted by what your target audience wants or needs to know and appreciate how they prefer to find their information.

Susan Boyle

Viral marketing sensation!

For viral marketing you only have to look at the “Susan Boyle” effect. The UK advert Channel posted a video of her singing on ‘Britain’s got Talent’ which to date has had 75,681,181 views not accounting for the myriads of video placements found associated with Susan Boyle, other performances, comments and interviews. What was incredible about this from a marketing perspective was the speed at which the video sharing occurred. Were you one of this millions that viewed or shared the video? I know I did.

So how should you approach You Tube as a company wishing to promote itself and what are the benefits of using it?


  • Identify your viewers and what they want, make it helpful and informative. Aim to become a trusted expert in your field.
  • Consider becoming a You Tube partner. This will help you become featured on their homepage.
  • Create your own channel and grow your viewer base which you can use to email about events or promotions.
  • Consider product placement in You Tube videos.
  • Be consistent with your message and publish engaging content on a frequent basis that has relevance for your audience.
  • Use YouTube tags so users can easily find you.Recognise that this is part of an overall marketing strategy , plan accordingly.
  • Realise that it is an opportunity to reach consumers who are searching for information about a brand or related products and services. This is even more relevant now given that Google owns YouTube.


  • It can help increase your site visibility since videos can leap to the head of Google’s search engine.
  • It is a powerful direct marketing tool, when considered as part of the marketing mix.
  • YouTube tags help users easily find you.
  • You Tube now makes it easy to share video socially.
  • More than 500 tweets per minute contain a You Tube link. There are vibrant communities and specialist groups communicating and sharing.
  • Helps humanise your brand. Home Depot and Wholefoods are two examples.
  • It’s a bandwidth saver option for your website’s streaming content though your website links should highlight its availability if you choose this option.

Above all, what all You Tube business users need to realise is that it is a discriminating intelligent community .Whatever your meme or interest, open access content is providing us all with insight, entertainment or breaking news whether it be the recipe for the perfect Mayonnaise, watching Maradona attack an Al Wasl fan or learning how to use WordPress Blog. With Kuwait, Saudi and the UAE amongst the top global You Tube users video marketing cannot be neglected as part of the marketing mix.

If you want to learn more about how your company can leverage Social Media Marketing as part of their marketing mix, ISM are running their Social Media Marketing course in October.

This is my favourite Summer video,let’s hope Wii gave them some free goodies..

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.

Generation X is a term used to stereotype adults in their 30’s and 40’s born in the late 60’s to early 80’s. Other terms used frequently are the lost generation; the 13th generation; the in-betweeners or just plain ‘slackers’. Whilst marketeers desperately tried to define this generation in order to be able to sell to these fervent anti-commercialists, Douglas Coupland , who popularised the term, denied there was one after all .He stated that the term had been co-opted as a marketing term. The term however, negatively Gen X er’s view labels, has stuck and has given birth to Gen Y, Z, Jones etc.

Whatever your views are on stereotyping it is clear that Gen X are seen by marketers as one of today’s major consumers.
• They are seen as cynical seekers of value, their formative developmental years having developed a generational healthy scepticism.
• They trust peer reviews and third party review sites over brand messages and are tough customers.
• They use mass/social media for their own means by accumulating information to make buying decisions. They are likely to have researched the object of their desire and compared prices or reviews.
• They voice their concerns and have quiet power to influence peers.
• They are comfortable with buying online having grown up with technology.
• They like convenience and don’t want to spend all day shopping after all but instead prefer a short uncomplicated sales cycle. It gives them more time to achieve a life/work balance.
• They respect businesses that give back to communities and have a strong social/environmental conscience and value diversity.
• They have social-cultural triggers that will turn them off quickly and they will rapidly hit fast forward to the next option.
• They are not responsive to pushy salespeople or unethical marketing. They are looking for truth and authenticity; they are sceptics after all and like the sales person to be able to answer their product questions with honesty.
• They are open to trying out new ideas, they embrace new learning.
• They are quality seekers they like the small business brand, they like the corner coffee shop.
Reaching out to this generation from a marketing perspective requires listening to consumer demands and allowing them to become your brand ambassadors. You need to give them social proof and be transparent as a business since they are adept at discovering marketing fluff for what it is.
As Jeff Gordinier, the writer of “Generation X saves the world” puts it:
The generation that is doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking is the one that still gets pegged as a bunch of slackers: Generation X. Over the past twenty years, in fact, those slackers have irrevocably changed countless elements of our culture – from the way we watch movies to the way we make sense of a cracker political process to the way the whole world does business.
Whilst international brands are listening, respecting and responding to this demographic, is Dubai? Is there a Gen X in the cultural melting pot of this giant Middle Eastern consumerist economy or has this generation truly been lost and swamped by the millennials already? Join the conversation.