Why your target market can’t hear you

 

Shouting_ostrich

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.

 

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.

Analysis

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.

Takeaway

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.

 

 

 

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?

malteser

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.

 

 

The majority of businesses have a handful of really great customers. They’re the people who order regularly, pay on time and come back time and again. But are you being complacent? Do your best customers get the best treatment from your Dubai sales team? Or have you forgotten the basic rules for retaining customers?

Customer retention is one area of sales that is often overlooked in the rush to find new customers. New customers equal growth, right? Well not always. Treat your older customers well and your business will be healthier for it.

Some basic lessons in customer retention are:

Involve your customers

The more ambitious your new project, product, or service, the more testing you are going to have to do. Which is why it’s a good idea to select a small number of your older, more trusted customers and rope them into some beta testing.

This is a great way to show them how much you value their input into developing new stuff. You can invite them in at the early planning stages, or if that seems too soon, wait until when you feel you have something that’s ready to be tested in the environment you want to sell it in.

In the business to consumer market this is a well-established way of testing how a product is going to be received by the public. In the business-to-business community this type of feedback is invaluable – you will learn a lot about how your new product is going to be used in the real world.

Over-deliver on your promises

Customers who order from you without needing a call, or come in frequently to buy your products might not seem like they need much attention – but they are often the ones who need it most.

You’ve sold your product or services to them but do you know how they perceive that sale? Do they stay with you because it’s easier than going elsewhere? Very often this is the case. They’ve made an investment in you and don’t want the hassle of changing.

However, they could change and often do so out of the blue. The best way to retain a customer is to over deliver on their expectations. Go that extra mile for them. Find out how they are using your product or service and see if you can improve on how they use it. Maybe do an audit – are they paying more than a new customer? Is there an added benefit they’re not receiving because it came in after they became a customer?

If a customer feels like you are looking out for their best interests, they’re more likely to stick with you than go to a competitor.

Customer retention incentives for sales teams

Make customer retention part of your monthly sales team meetings. Don’t just give your team a bonus for new business: give them a bonus for retaining long standing customers.

Give your team the tools to identify who are the long term customers, what value they bring to the company and what you can do the help them stay as customers.

With the right thought processes in place and a good customer retention strategy, your company can grow more effectively and you wont see that dreaded marker of a high turn over of customers.

ISM 2005

A group from way back in 2005 attending Coaching with Philip Parker

ISM have delivered corporate training in Sales, Marketing and Leadership in Dubai and the Gulf region for 15 years. We are proud that customers keep coming back to us but never take them for granted . Returning clients are highly valued and we reward them accordingly.The record so far by a single client stands at 11 public courses attended, a marvelous testament to our UK trainers,course standards and client confidence!

So you’ve decided it’s time to start your email marketing campaign to your Dubai or Gulf database… but before you begin there are some simple ways of making it truly effective.

When to send

People are busy and your email has to hit their inbox at a time when they are in a receptive mood. There has been a lot of research done into when this golden time is and generally, midweek is a great time for business emails.

If you are selling to the consumer, then the rules change slightly. Some companies choose a blanket approach such as one a day, usually sent in the middle of the night so as to be one of the first emails seen in the morning. However, this can be highly annoying and many people just unsubscribe if you send too often.

UAE flag

Are you planning to launch a National Day product ?

When tying your marketing campaign into a national holiday or event, then a couple of days beforehand is a good time to send – especially if you an e-commerce company hoping to sell more products on the back of the holiday. It gives people time to have the goods delivered before the day itself.

Subject heading

It’s really important to get this right, because if you get it wrong it’ll be deleted straight away. Remember that people are busy and no matter how great your offer or interesting your newsletter, if the header doesn’t grab them within two seconds, your email marketing effort is toast.

Words like ‘free’, ‘limited offer’, ‘sale ends today’, do grab attention and are worth using if you are doing a push in a tight time frame. For those who are sending out monthly newsletters, then you need to remember what your target audience is likely to respond to. Try to think like a journalist – what is the most attention-grabbing nugget in your newsletter? When you know what it is, put it in the subject header.

What’s in the Body?

You may have heard that email marketing is dead, but that isn’t true. What is dead is the old style of sending out long, text heavy emails that nobody has the time or the inclination to wade through. You have to break up your emails, put in images and make it look attractive, as well as having interesting articles, news, and special offers.

Give people a taste of what you are offering and then place a link in there for them to click on. You can take them to your website for the special offer, or a more detailed blog.

Who’s clicking through?

So you’ve managed to get people to open the email and click on the most important link – what now? Are you tracking how people behave when they read your email? If you aren’t analysing your email click through rates, you are missing some essential business information.

There are many different types of software out there to track what people are doing with your emails. One of the most popular by far is Mail Chimp. This gives you the power to know who is opening your emails, and whether they are clicking on any links in that email.

This type of knowledge makes your email marketing much more targeted. By analysing how people respond to one email, you can adjust your next one, refining all the time to make the most of this simple marketing tool.

There comes a time when you realise that people assume you might know what you are talking about.  Respect?  Or merely the fact that you are older so, the logic goes, you must have learnt something.  History relates that so called more experienced (older) people can be every bit as stupid as others.  They just have less excuse.  In fact it became clear to me many years ago that my general ignorance was not, nor should be, a barrier to progressing along life’s random pathways as most other people were similarly uninformed.

However, I have along the way learnt a few “truths” that have helped me meander in a series of crab-like stages through what has worryingly become something resembling a career.  I would pass these on to my children but they never listen to a word I say.

Rule 1 – Tour Guides: The Business Gurus.

If you work for a large company you will have to put up with much corporate guff; spurious mantras, tick box initiatives, and heartfelt claims to caring about customers.  Of course, the more a corporate vision and such stuff is paraded you can be sure the less is understood about customer’s real feelings.

Tour guides however live the truth.  When you stand up in front of a coach at 6.00am with 45 people on board expectantly looking at you to make their day wonderful, there is no escape.  You can see it in their eyes, and your every action, smile, word is monitored and scrutinised.  The mood is immediate and visceral.  If anyone ever claims to you that they are an expert in the “Customer Experience” the likelihood is you should ignore them.  Unless that is they have been a tour guide.  Better still, be one yourself for a year and really understand the concept.

(Florida 1981, since you ask).

Rule 2 – Choose your boss wisely

You can’t choose your parents but you can choose your boss.  Start with some home truths:  Most are as ignorant as you.  Most know this and are, therefore, even more scared.  This leads to odd behaviour ranging widely from superficial over-confidence, alcoholism, to fearful inaction or aggressive control:  Sometimes all of the above.

So when accepting a job or a new role, study carefully the person responsible for your career progression.  Is there intelligence?  Is there common understanding (empathy)?  Does the person care (about the job, the customer, you)?  Does the person appear to know what he/she is doing?  If you get these attributes in a boss, then don’t let go without a fight.

There seems to be a myth that employers/bosses are in control of your life.  Wrong, you are.  If empathy and trust are missing, then it’s time to move on and attach yourself to a worthier recipient of your loyalty.

Remember, it’s only a job.

 Rule 3 – Follow the DOPI Principle

Most strategies are guff.  By which I mean worthless.  In my experience companies / departments / functions chose a path for themselves built around their own hopes and dreams, and then assume that it will easily come to fruition just because they want it to happen.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The creation of a strategy should be ruthlessly objective based on information and an understanding of the market.  If done this way the answers become more obvious and usually simple (even if not always popular).  Once decided upon, then most organisations under-assume (if that’s a word) the sheer commitment, time, energy and bloody-mindedness needed to make it happen.  So, instead of emotional decision making and laid back implementation, think Decisions Objective Passionate Implementation. Obvious really, but rare in my experience. (This can be applied to your career by the way)

Rule 4 – Experience is not important

When recruiting someone don’t over-rate experience when analysing the potential talent pool.  In simple terms all that matters is intelligence and attitude.  A bright person with the right approach to life will adapt and pick up what’s needed in short order.  An experienced muppet will be an experienced muppet for a very long time.

To make these decisions requires instinct and empathy – not the usual ridiculous questions HR people tell you to ask.  Find out about the real person.

(Of course you have to ask the pro forma questions otherwise you will be accused of not taking the process seriously – just as long as you know what really matters).   Naturally, all the above requires you to be a good boss not a fatuous one (see Rule 2).

Rule 5 – Be a Confronting Person

To confront an issue in the workplace is almost always a good thing, whereas to be confrontational is almost always bad.  (There may be a few occasions where being confrontational is justified, but like many Victorian rules of grammar the general truth holds good).

In too many company situations where decisive thought and deed are needed, there is a tendency to stay quiet, to avoid argument, to skirt around a problem or, even worse, to ignore it.  Often, this culture will exist in authoritarian regimes, which are always bad things (whether it be a company, a sports team or a totalitarian state), and where fear is often endemic.  This is not to be confused with autocratic behaviour which is of course something entirely different and often a good thing.

Be brave: confront issues, get them into the open, solve them, and make a difference.

Rule 6 – Be Lucky

The Holy Grail.  All lives are subsumed, to a certain extent by a measure of luck or indeed bad luck.

A friend of mine used to crash his motorbike on frequent occasions, often returning home from the pub.  (This was a long time ago and we were younger).  One night, as we sat in the public bar of the Rose & Crown, Gt Horkesley he turned and said in all sincerity “David, I have crashed so often it must be bad luck”.  Quite.

One thing is for sure: to be lucky you have to put yourself in situations where luck will strike.  It isn’t of course an infallible rule but in my experience it holds a fair degree of truth.  Get out there; make things happen, Carpe Diem. Good fortune rarely comes to those who merely sit and wait.

Rule 7 – Choose your Heroes Wisely

Identifying people you admire and analysing why can go a long way to understanding your own motives and aspirations.  Because we are all different we will all choose differing and diverging role models.  So, choose and analyse your own.  By way of interest however here are a few of mine:

Don Quixote; because tilting at windmills is always to be admired and, indeed, emulated.

Admiral ‘Jacky’ Fisher; who challenged sacred cows and entrenched behaviour, and was revered by his men.

General Patten; who is generally attributed the maxim “have a plan, execute it violently, do it now”.  Quite so.

In conclusion then, there is of course only one infallible rule to life: namely, “There are no rules to life”.  Enjoy it.

David Kneeshaw – Chief Executive, Royal London 360° – 2008 – present.  David Kneeshaw has served as the Chief Executive of Royal London’s international business since 2003.  He joined the Royal London Group in 2002 as a Group Business Development Director from and then the chief executive of SLI from 2004  to  2008.  A law graduate, he began his career in media, working for Times Newspapers and for London-based advertising agencies before joining Swiss Life in 1992 as director of personal finance. Mr. Kneeshaw has served as the chairman of the Isle of Man Insurance Association since 2012.

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?

hagrid

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.

Your sales team would probably prefer to be out and about selling your products and services to companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, than sitting around a table talking tactics and forecasting. So when you get your team to sit still and listen, make it count and get them involved.

Have more than one idea

When considering you next sales strategy, don’t just dig out and use last year’s methods and use them again. Look around for another way of doing things. What worked (or in some cases, didn’t work) last year, may not work as well this year. Your sales team may have exceeded targets on last year’s strategy, but there is no guarantee the same will happen this year.

Review what parts of the strategy did well, and which parts didn’t do well. Get some stats on how the market has changed, and look at how you can make the best of those changes.

And then, create two strategies. With two different strategies, you can see the pitfalls in each far more objectively than if you only have one to look at. Hone it down until you have one plan that you are confident will work.

Talk to your customers

With an economy that is plateauing at best, shrinking at worst, it does well to see what changes your customers are dealing with. Talk to your customers; see if their priorities have change since last year. This could be as simple as taking some of your main clients/customers out for a lunch. Although the business lunch is not as glorious as it was in the boom years, it is still vital to your business to keep that connection with your customers. If you have a broad, public customer base, a street level vox pop will help you gauge their attitude to your products, industry and what they are cutting down on or spending more on.

Be vigilant

It can be tempting, when new information comes in, to allow new information to inform the strategy, without giving it the same vigorous review used at the beginning of the process.

It is also very easy to lose sight of the original strategy. Measure how the strategy is working regularly: don’t wait for the end of each quarter, check out your successes and failures on a weekly basis. Trends are easier to spot that way. If you are off the mark, go back to the original sales strategy and find out why it’s not working.

Train the person, not the team

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on individuals in a training session, yet to get the best out of every member of your team, you have to focus on individual strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is different so instead of trying to make everyone the same, work with them to make the most of their personality. It will make them better sales people because they wont come across to clients and customers as being false.

Look to the future

You may not have the budget to hire a futurologist in your business just yet, but you do need to think about the future of your products and services. How long a shelf life do they have? Is there a natural lifespan? How are external pressures changing your industry, and your client base? Think about how your business model needs to change in the next year, 10 years, and 50 years to keep your business viable. Do you want your business to be the biggest and best of its type in Dubai, or are you looking to expand into the rest of the Middle East, or become a large international corporation? Questioning your company in this way will help you form a more robust and forward thinking strategy.

 

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.

Your pitch is going to win or lose you a sale. So you have to make sure that when you walk into a meeting in downtown Dubai your sales pitch is perfect. But there are ways of pitching well and ways of doing it that will turn off your prospect.

Don’t Over Prepare

burj dubai

Just before you enter a meeting is not the time to prepare your sales pitch....even if you are taking the elevator in the Burj Khalifa !

Yes, you need to know your script so well that you could reel if off in your sleep. But if you take that into a meeting, you’ll put people off for several reasons. First of all, there is no room in a perfect pitch to listen to your customer. They sit there silently and while you do all the talking.

It’s boring sitting around for half an hour listening to someone talk. So give the client plenty of opportunity to talk about their needs.

Give a Time Constraint

Again, don’t bore your customer. Give a strict time to present to them and, just as importantly, leave a definite amount of time for questions and answers. Tell them at the outset of the meeting how long you have to will take to give an outline of how you think your product could develop their business.

A timed meeting not only keeps everyone on track, it also gives the impression that you have somewhere to be afterwards. This nicely leads to the next point:

The Client is King

Yes, you need to ensure the client knows that this pitch is all about them, and all about how it’s going to make their life better. But at the same time, you are selling yourself as well as the product; so don’t fall into the trap of agreeing with everything they say. You have to come across as the expert, the one they want to see again. You can’t put yourself into too weak a position or they will lose confidence in you, and then lose confidence in what you are presenting.

Papering over the Cracks

If there is some bad news in the pitch, such as the numbers not adding up to the customer’s preferred price bracket, don’t fluff it. Make sure you know the numbers, and more importantly, know how to overcome any objections that might arise from this. People don’t like the wool being pulled over their eyes and if they spot something doesn’t add up, they won’t thank you for pretending it does.

Even worse, if you do seal the deal and later down the line the customer finds it’s costing them more than you said it would, you’ll lose respect, and maybe lose future sales.

Death by PowerPoint

Don’t overload your customers with a huge range of data, statistics, graphs and projected earnings. You need to keep your prospect interested and connected while you are presenting to them. You’ll see their eyes glaze over if you just give them a huge about information. Get them involved on an emotional level instead; show them how your product is going to make their life better.

So next time you are preparing to present to your most important Dubai client, find out all you can about their business and how your product or service is going to make their life better. And then put that into the context of a pitch that doesn’t kill the deal half way through the meeting.

Is it really possible to come to an agreement where everyone wins during a negotiation? Or does it come at too high a price for one side? An experienced negotiator can walk away from the table with a much better deal than someone less experienced. There are those that speak ‘win win’, but when they jet out of Dubai back to their head office, you could find you’ve given away much more than you should have just to achieve the deal.

chris hoy

Winning takes tactics,patience and the right moves at the right time. Have you got what it takes ?

So how can you ensure that you will walk away from the meeting with what you wanted? A win win strategy for negotiation brings everyone around the table to a point of mutual agreement. A point where nobody will walk away feeling they have given too much away, or didn’t get very close to what they wanted.

First of all, you must understand your own goals. Without a clear idea of what you want, it’s almost impossible to achieve a settlement. If you can’t clearly define what you need, how can you expect the other side to grasp your goals?

Also, by clearly outlining what you want ahead of time, you give yourself time to look at what options are open to the other side to help you win, and what you can offer in return.

At the outset, you have to be very realistic about the negotiation. Is it really possible for both sides to win? Will one of you have to concede too much to gain their prize? What exactly are you willing to concede?

You have to have a clear understanding of the parameters of your concessions. This is called the settlement range. Don’t go so far that you give away more than the deal is actually worth to your company.

Accept that not every deal is going to be a win win. That doesn’t mean you should give up before you start, but you do need to be realistic about your resources, your abilities at negotiating, and the other party’s negotiating skills.

And don’t be afraid to ask the other party what they want out of the deal. It’s a simple question, but many are afraid to ask it, in case it makes them look weak for not knowing beforehand. If you don’t know, then ask. Asking sooner will not only look better, but will save time spent dancing around trying to figure it out.

This questioning will benefit you as well. If you know exactly what someone is looking for out of a deal, you will know whether you can provide it. And don’t forget to return the favour. Tell them what your goals are.

However, there has to be a bit of tactical thought going on. If you reveal far more than they do, where does that leave you? Well, it could leave you at a disadvantage further down the line. Better to hold a little back, than give up everything at once.

And don’t let the other side know you BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) at the outset. This will certainly put you at a real disadvantage. Keep that knowledge in your mind until you really feel it’s necessary to push for it. Then hopefully you will be standing in your Dubai office lobby shaking hands on a deal well done.

overcoming objections

You can't make a deal if there are objections in the way....

It would be highly unusual for you to sit with a new customer who didn’t have some objections. It’s human nature to question the relative merits of a new product. This is as true of the downtown Dubai market trader as it is of Jumeirah  resident. How you counter their objections will often mean the difference between selling your product or walking home empty handed.

Listen to the Customer’s Objections

It may sound rather obvious, but it is surprising how often people simply don’t bother to listen to what the customer is saying. Instead they are thinking about the many ways they can convince this person to buy. By just stopping the inner voice and listening to the outer voice of the customer, you’ll get a much better idea of what their real objections are, and then you’ll be able to address them specifically. This, rather than addressing the issues you have in your own mind, will encourage the customer to feel valued: it’s not often a sales person actually listens to you.

Talk up the Benefits

It’s a common mistake to talk about how great your product is. You can talk at length about how lovely and shiny it is, how many hours have gone into its development, what were your biggest hurdles on the road to production. Problem is, your customer doesn’t want to hear that. The customer wants to know what your product is going to do for them. How is it going to improve their lives, make their life easier, less stressful, or even make them appear cooler, richer, and more beautiful. Focus on the benefits of the product to each individual customer, and they’ll start to see how your product might be worth buying after all. Look at it from their point of view. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not talking about getting so completely into your customer’s mind-set that you start to doubt your own product. No, it’s about empathising with the person and trying to understand where their objections come from. Once you’ve find their perspective, you’ll find it easier to show the customer why your product will actually be worth their time and money.

Don’t Lie

Only the salesman who believes he’s never returning to a particular customer, region, country, will rely on fabricating the truth when it comes to a sale. If you are in charge of a region you need to be honest with your customers, especially when you know you’ll be seeing them again soon. When you say a product is going to make their life better, make sure the product you’re selling can fulfil your promise.

Emphasise the Value, not the price

 If someone is telling you that your product is too expensive, then you’ve not sold him or her on the value your product will add to their life or to their business. The best way to overcome objections based on price to really give them the proof that your product is worth what you are selling it for. If they say it’s too expensive for them, that they can’t afford it, well that is a different matter entirely. If a person really doesn’t have the budget available, you should ask when the company will have a budget for a product like yours. When they tell you, arrange to meet them a couple of weeks before the magic date to discuss it further.

Timing is everything

If the major objection is delivery timescales, the best way of overcoming this objection is to tell your customer that you will work on that with them. Going that extra mile for a customer by sitting down with your delivery team and seeing if you can help that customer’s particular delivery needs, is going to pay off. They’ll see you don’t just see them as a one off sales, you actually value their business and are willing to get your Dubai delivery schedule moved to accommodate their needs.

Knowing who is your most profitable client, and understanding how to manage your relationship with them, is the main responsibility of a key account manager in Dubai, Riyadh or London.

In fact, the role of a Key Account Manager (or KAM) has become more important as companies spread their business dealings across the globe. The Financial Times defines the role of a Key Account Manager as: “The art of developing long-term relationships with selected customers.”

These selected customers are those that provide your business with the most income, or are strategically important to your company. So maintaining a good working relationship with them means you first have to identify who they are, and then you have to plan how maintain or develop your working relationship.

How to Identify Your Key Customers

KAM

Which of your accounts is the Big Daddy?

You may think you know instinctively who your key accounts are. Yet it is possible that you are focusing on the larger companies you deal with, to the detriment of smaller ones.

Take a step back and look at your sales and where they are being generated. There is a particular rule in business that 80% of business comes from only 20% of your customers. Finding out who belongs in this 20% is essential for identifying your key accounts.

You also have to assess how much effort you put into bigger companies compared to the orders you receive from them.

Once you’ve found this set of customers it’s important to also look for the strategic ones. For example, do you have a small customer who is excellent at referring you to bigger companies? Is your signature product sold in a particularly important boutique?

Understanding the difference between the volume sales, and the strategic sales customer is crucial for the planning stage. When you know who is most important to your business you can begin the next step:

How to Maintain/Develop the Relationship

There are different approaches to planning a relationship with key customers, but the most important action is the actual planning itself. Managing a customer on the fly is highly inefficient and at one extreme may lead you to lose the customer completely. Firstly you need to sit back and create short term, medium term and long term plans for each of your key accounts.

Each of your customers has a very different set of company goals and market challenges. When you have identified these key accounts it’s essential you understand their particular circumstances and how your business can help them achieve them.

Put in place objectives for each customer. Initially you’ll need three: vision, relationship, and business. Your vision is to have an image of the best outcome from your dealings with a business. The relationship objective centres around building a strong relationship where you deliver on time, fix problems quickly, and are there for the customer if they need extra support. The business objective is the solid financial outcome of the business relationship. You want to have a clear (and achievable) sales forecast for this customer.

Although there may be just one KAM for each customer, the planning and implementation needs to be carried out on a wider level. If you want your plans for a key account in Dubai to work holistically with your other key accounts in Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, have a series of planned meetings to form a cohesive overall strategy for your business.

dirhams

Money, can you keep track of it ?

Are you spending more than you are making? This is the absolute basic of budgeting for any start-up or non-finance manager in Dubai. Can you honestly say you understand where all the money coming in is being spent? And do you know which areas need less money and which areas require a boost?

At the heart of all businesses is the need to earn enough money to cover all the overheads and make some profit. Without a clear plan to ensure this happens, a business will obviously flounder. But assessing how this happens, and where to make changes to increase profitability, requires some knowledge of financial terms and how to implement them.

Here are some staples of a Finance Director’s daily routine. Understanding not only what they mean, but also how you can use them, will help a manager create a healthier department.

Cash flow Analysis:  Shows where (and more importantly when) the money is coming into the company and how it is being spent out of the company.

Gross Margin:  If it costs you 12 dirhams to make a product and you sell it for 25 dirhams, the gross margin is 13 dirhams.

Balance Sheet:  This is a snapshot of your company’s, or your department’s financial situation. It shows the assets and liabilities on a specific date and can be used to show the worth of the company and to analyse its management.

Break Even Point: This is where your total income equals your total expenditure.

Income Statements:   An important report analysing a company’s revenue and expenditure. This is also known as the profit and loss statement.

Return On Capital:   Is the measure of how a company uses its resources to generate profit.

Key Performance Indicators:  These help companies keep track on the success (or failure) of defined goals and targets.

Working capital:   Is the money available to a company to pay the day to day bills.

It is the job of a department manager to do more than just know what these terms mean. A thorough understanding of how to read a cash flow analysis alongside the income statement, will allow you to plan better. You will see where the money is working hardest and where it is disappearing into a black hole of inactivity.

So instead of winging it every month, you’ll be able to place a strategy behind your department’s work, and ultimately increase profitability.

Without proper budgets behind purchasing and marketing decisions, a department can quickly descend into chaotic spending patterns that not only make it a drag on the company as a whole, but also puts a question mark against whether you are capable of running it properly.

If you are struggling to keep a tight rein on your business or department budget, it’s time to think about a financial course in Dubai aimed specifically at non-financial managers. The Institute of Sales and Marketing has a highly knowledgeable team of experts that are here to help you. On our Finance Management for Non-Financial Managers course, you will gain confidence in your abilities to effectively oversee budgets and understand basic financial principles.

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?

Every company in the world has been told they need to write a blog. But, do you really know why your Dubai marketing agency needs a regular blog? Or have you found yourself lost for what to write about?

sethgodin

Business blogging ..make it work for you !

Writing a blog is an excellent way to create real content on your website that appeals to your site visitors as well as to search engines. For search engines love new pages: it indicates a website is still in use, and they love indexing new pages. Blogs are also one of the cornerstones of social media marketing. With a blog you can draw attention to your website through all the other social media channels, improving your inbound links and thus, again, improving your rankings on search engines.

Here are some handy tips to help you keep your blog on track:

Make It Relevant

One of the worst mistakes you can make with your company blog is to talk about issues and events that are outside your knowledge base. If there is a major event in your industry, have an opinion. If there is a political or social issue that your company has no connection with, don’t blog about it.

You need to keep your blog consistent. Readers will grow accustomed to seeing your blog as a consistent source of information. If you write with authority on your subject, you will find that readers will come back every week to find out more. Deviate too frequently and you’ll confuse people and lose their attention.

Spread the Word

Don’t just write a blog, upload it to your site and leave it at that. Use other social media channels to ensure different types of readers get to know about it. Put a link to the blog page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you are a regular on forums where linking is permitted, put a link there as well.

Show, Don’t Tell

Although a company blog is generally a written format, don’t be afraid to get some pictures up there, or embed a video. Pictures and video can really liven up your blog posts. Don’t use them in place of the written word all the time, but the occasional pictures or video will bring it life.

If you have a new product, service, menu, put a picture of it on your site and, if you feel it might attract attention, put it up on Pinterest as well. If you have a video of the product in action, even better, embed it into your blog as well as putting it up on YouTube.

Be Regular

If you want to keep people engaged in your blog, make sure you publish it every week. Every day would be great as well, but daily blogging is a huge task and requires having someone whose sole job it is to do your social media. So once a week is an easy ask. Once a month is too infrequent for blogging, but it is perfect timing for sending out a newsletter rounding up the month’s blogs and any other news your company has for your clients and customers.

Keep a schedule

It’s far easier to write a schedule of blogs for the next 8 weeks than trying to come up with ideas every week. Write out what needs to be highlighted each week to coincide with product launches, company events, industry events and news. A schedule also gives you the flexibility to change if something unexpected happens that you feel needs blogging about urgently.

So next time you’re feeling a little stuck for inspiration for your Dubai restaurant blog (and if you do have a restaurant or clothes boutique, Pinterest is a great way of showing your latest creation), open up Word, write a schedule and you’ll soon discover there is more to write about that you imagined.

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Do you deserve a promotion? Do you find yourself thinking about all the effort you’ve put in over the last year in your Dubai marketing or sales department? Are you wondering if it is enough to get a promotion?

promotions dubai

Are you working your way towards a promotion?

If you have been asking yourself this question, it is time to find out if your company feels the same way as you do. Seeing other people promoted before us can be demotivating – one of the main reasons people give for leaving a company is because they don’t feel their work has been recognised by their managers.

So it’s time to compile a list of everything you know you’ve done for the company, and how it has helped your company. Did you set up a meeting six months ago that led to a big deal being signed recently? Have your skills at forecasting the market meant your company is leaner and more flexible than your competitors? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself.

Don’t be afraid of asking for a meeting with your immediate superior and human resource department. If you really feel that you deserve a promotion, act straight away. Don’t let your feelings fester.

For a meeting this important, don’t go in empty handed – the conversation won’t go well if you are unprepared. Go back to your list and add any letters or emails of congratulation so you can show what people think about your work.

Having this conversation with your company can yield interesting results. Although they may not have a position for you straight away, there could be an interesting sideward promotion. It may not be exactly what you would like to do, yet the experience gained here could provide you with a better shot at a promotion to your dream job next time round. It entirely depends on what your career goals are.

And talking of goals, you need another list to outline what your career goals actually are. You don’t have to divulge everything on this list to your company, but you do need to be clear in your own mind. If your ultimate aim is to be the marketing director at Dubai’s leading pharmaceutical company, you need to start looking at the kinds of positions that will get you your dream job. They may not necessarily be what the company wants to offer you, in which case, getting the promotion you want may mean leaving your company.

If all this seems daunting, you should investigate courses that are aimed at giving you the right skills to develop your negotiation abilities. Coaching is an invaluable tool to help you reach your target career. And from a business perspective, coaching is a very good way to retain highly motivated staff. If you have a person on your team who shows they want to step up a level in their career, but you feel they are not quite there yet, business coaching will help you both. They may find your organisation can provide training that another marketing company in Dubai cannot. It’s far better to retain talented staff than to lose them because you didn’t listen to their desires for a promotion.

Twitter is one of the top five social media vehicles, and your Dubai marketing team has probably already created an account for your company, but are they being held back by worries about mass following tools?

lorenz and geese

Dr Lorenz had geese following him, do you connect with your followers or are they just a number ?

Mass following on Twitter has its detractors because it was originally seen as a blackhat activity. However, if you do it properly it is an excellent way of growing your following on Twitter. This is because if you follow someone, a large percentage of them will follow you back. If you post interesting tweets, they will recommend others follow you as well.

For those who aren’t sure what mass following tools are, they come in a variety of guises, but the essential part of it is that you can create profiles of the type of people you want to follow and the software does the rest.

In simple terms, instead of searching manually for people who live in Dubai and are interested in your type of product, you type in the location, Dubai, the product, apartments, and off you go. The software will automatically find people who are in the region and mention the product.

By following people who have already shown an interest in the type of product you are selling, you are not being intrusive. The intrusive element is when you send people a tweet asking if they would be interested in your product. Twitter is not the place for aggressive sales tactics, it is a place for building brand awareness and talking directly with your customers if they mention you or approach you.

Depending on your budget, there are free tools and pay for tools. So you can pay anything from zero to $1,000s each month. Many follow packages are actually part of a larger Twitter management package, so research carefully before choosing which package is right for your company.

There are many tools out there, so if there isn’t a dedicated social media manager in your Dubai marketing team, appoint one person to research the different packages available. Here are three popular ones to start you off:

www.twellow.com – is a directory of public Twitter accounts and allows you to search people and interests. It’s very popular, free, but limited.

www.sproutsocial.com – From $9 to $899 a month, this is a full service package for using Twitter, rather than a simple follow software package.

www.tweepi.com – Another management package that includes bulk following, starts at $7.49 and the platinum version is $14.99 a month.

This link gives a comprehensive breakdown of different Twitter apps that may offer a different avenue for finding people to follow on Twitter, but also includes lots of different areas of Twitter use you may find useful:

http://www.squidoo.com/twitterapps

The one social media Twitter tool you really shouldn’t use are the unfollow tools. Some of these automatically send out a tweet to tell your follows who you have unfollowed. Because this tool mentions the name of the unfollowed, it is highly unsocial: how do you think you’d feel if you’d unfollowed someone and then they tell thousands of their followers? We unfollow for a variety of reasons so having it flagged up to people we don’t even know is highly unprofessional.

So next time your Dubai social media marketing team meets put mass following on the agenda: done properly, it’s a great way to boost your company’s profile online.

magrudy's bag

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

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

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

So what are the key building blocks for relationship marketing?

Focus Groups

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

Questionnaires & Online Surveys

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

Mystery Shoppers

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

Loyalty Cards

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

Social Network

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

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

Rewards

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

Social Responsibility

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

Entertain them

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

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

ruthbadger

The Badger...do you have her sales skills?

We all know there are born sales people. You will have seen them in your offices: the ones who can sell the benefits of their product and get huge commitments from you in Dubai without breaking a sweat. But don’t worry, you can learn good sales techniques: the innate salesperson just learned their craft a little earlier than you. Here are five simple ways in which will help you straight away.

Stay Calm

There comes a point in all sales pitches where the tension begins to mount, but the more experienced sales person doesn’t let this show. Some sales situations are more stressful than others, such as negotiations worth hundreds of thousands. But during this process a seasoned salesperson is able to calmly deal with any last minute prevarications from the client without losing their cool.

Ditch the Script

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a sales call where we can almost see the script that is in front of the telesales person. Transfer this feeling into a face-to-face conversation and you can easily see why working to a script doesn’t convert to sales. Easy, confident language is key. Whilst the script is in your head, try to talk in a more relaxed style that bring across the good points of the product.

Be Straight Up

Or rather, don’t tell lies. Although the best salesperson can sell just about anything, you’re not going to create goodwill if you sell a product which the client quickly finds out doesn’t do everything you said it does. When selling a product keep to what it really can do, rather than trying to sell it on benefits it doesn’t have. And if you don’t personally like the product, be honest: the product may be exactly what the client wants, and the fact you are honest in your opinion encourages them to believe everything else you say about it.

Be a Professional

Emulation has always been considered a good sales tactic. However, this only goes so far, there has to be a stopping point where you retain your own level of professionalism. If your client appears to be a very relaxed surf dude don’t try and pretend to be on the same wavelength – whiff of insincerity is enough to put off a potential customer. Better to be your own person and copy subtly, than to make a fool of yourself.

Mind Your Manners

Being rude gets you nowhere in the business of sales. And in the current economic climate, it is even more important to remember that being pleasant during negotiations is paramount. Remember, if the client is having difficulty committing, it’s your job to show them how your product or service will be a real

As with everything in business, there is always something new to learn. Next time you have the opportunity, watch your best salesperson and take mental notes on how she creates the right atmosphere to close the sale. Don’t stop there either – keep your eyes and ears open when out and about in Dubai, it’s a tough sales environment and you will come across a continuum of  sales skills which you can reflect on.

 

There is a lot to be learned from watching The Apprentice, particularly for improving your sales skills and tactics in Dubai. The contestants are high flyers in their fields pitting themselves against each other to win the prize of £250,000 investment in a new venture.

Now these individuals own their businesses, run financial departments, are risk managers for blue chip companies, and yet…

When it comes to the sales tasks, the failure rate is incredibly high and makes for riveting viewing.

So why do they give TV ratings gold with their poor sales tactics? Well, the majority of mistakes can be put down to these five points.

1 – They Panic

The greatest mistake anyone can make when approaching a prospect is to panic. You should be prepared, and before you go anywhere near the prospect, you need to know exactly what you are selling and why that person would want to buy it off you. You need to have practice runs with your sales team so they have a memorised the script to the point where they can talk the benefits of a product naturally.

2 – Resorting to the Boiler Room

boiler room

Would boiler room tactics work on you?

The Apprentice is a high-pressure sales environment and the temptation is to resort to Boiler Room Tactics; which is never a good idea. Making a prospect feel uncomfortable and pressured is a major turn off. Boiler room tactics have a justifiably bad reputation and if you find yourself, or see a member of the sales team, starting to use these tactics, you know the sale is already lost.

3 – Poor Preparation

Because The Apprentice contestants have less than a day to design a product and put it to market, they often don’t prepare adequately and are selling a product they know very little about. One of the most stunning cases of this was when the Series 7 teams were asked to create a concept magazine. Without finding out the current state of the magazine market, the teams created a lads mag and a magazine aimed at the over 60 market. One was highly offensive and the other condescending. When they tried to sell the magazines to publishers, the response was cringe worthy. In the real world, your sales team often has no input into product creation, but you can make sure they know everything about it before they hit the streets.

4 – No Clear Leader

Without a designated leader, your Dubai sales team will fail because they do not know what they are supposed to be doing and start making it up as they go along. There is only one person who disproves this theory in any series of The Apprentice UK, the Irish salesman, Jim Eastwood. Because he is a natural, he can sell just about anything to anyone. However, born salespeople like him are few and far between, and so a designated leader will help steer your sales team to success.

5 – Bad local knowledge

One of the best examples of failed tasks on The Apprentice is the lack of local knowledge. Not knowing where the best place to sell your product means your sales team can work their socks off without making a single sale. If you are launching a new range of frozen yoghurt, which end of the Mall of the Emirates is going to be a prime spot? Or should you be down on the Walk in JBR? Find the sweet spot so your sales team in Dubai can hit their targets.

If you don’t have access to the latest series of The Apprentice, search for ‘The Apprentice UK’ on YouTube.com where you’ll find the best clips from previous series.

Despite local differences in etiquette, it doesn’t matter if  you want to improve your sales skills in Dubai, London, or Singapore there are four main elements that will improve your sales technique.

1. Be the Adult in the Room

The successful salesperson knows that when they sit down to talk to a client about a product or service, they are the expert in the room on that product or service.

Your customer may have researched you and called you into a meeting, they may know a lot about the different kinds of products available in your industry, but essentially it is you, the company salesperson who knows most about your company’s offering. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place.

By understanding that you are the most knowledgeable person on your service, you can talk with confidence and be able to show why it’s the right fit for the customer.

2. You are there to sell a product, not make a friend

Getting too close and personal with people in business is not what makes a great salesperson. That doesn’t mean you are have to be cold and impersonal, it means you have to remember the difference between making a friend and making a sale.

3. Ditch the Ego

Johnny Bravo

An over-sized ego could land you in hot water!

Too much bravado, over-confidence or excessive ostentation from you will be off-putting to potential customers. When you walk into a meeting there will be plenty of egos in there already, you don’t need to add yours to the mix. By turning down the volume on you the salesperson, you allow your product or service to get a greater slice of the attention, so it becomes the star of the show.

That doesn’t mean you forget the first point of being the adult in the room: you know your product and you know how it will benefit the customer.

4. Question, then Listen and Watch

One of the big mistakes a salesperson can make is to do all the talking. Firstly, many people think they’ve told you everything about themselves or their business, but every successful salesperson knows that very often the customer hasn’t told the whole story. By asking questions you learn a lot more about what the company needs from your product.

You may think that you have a good idea of how the company can use your products, but by asking the right questions and listening to their answers, by the end of the conversation you will learn what they really need.

Not only does listening to what people say, and watching their body language, give you a better understanding of how you can help that company with your services, it also shows that you have a real interest in their business. That interest will earn you, the salesperson, more respect from the room, and as a consequence you’ve just added a level of respect for your product.

To learn more about how you can really improve your sales technique, the Institute of Sales and Marketing offer professional level courses for successful sales skills in Dubai. Find out more and book a place today https://www.ismdubai.com/

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ismdubai.com

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/the_seven_personality_traits_o.html

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

google plus one

Google plus one..are you on the list?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

limahl

Do you "love plus one?"

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

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

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

Sources:

Facebook Newsroom

http://newsroom.fb.com/

Social Commerce Today

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

Google Search Engine

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

Star gazing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple – 500,000

Android – 200,000

Windows – 40,000

Blackberry – 30,000

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lip gloss

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Levell

Bill is Director of courses for ISM training and uses his industry experience to tailor our courses for the Middle East market

The buyer’s perspective is an important area for sales people wishing to enhance their sales process and sales skills to understand. Over the last 3 weeks we have been exploring some perspectives that the buyer may be considering when looking to enter into a business relationship. Here are the final key areas. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 they are archived in the Sales discussion area.

A. Change management

The management of change, both within the agreement and in a wider sense as part of business change programs, is a key issue. Suppliers on strategic service contracts must have a positive approach to change and show evidence of their capabilities in managing it.

B. Service provision and management

  1.    Is there evidence that the supplier has recognised capabilities in relation to service management delivery?
  2.   Are the supplier’s plans for service management adequate, covering resources/capacity/workload, performance, service continuity, charging and ordering, exception reporting and feedback, incident handling, change control, etc?
  3. How will these plans relate to other parts of the supply chain?

C. Resource management

  1.  Does the supplier demonstrate a mature approach to resource risks and contingency management, e.g. in terms of established succession plans?
  2. Is there evidence that the supplier has the necessary processes to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to meet the business workload demands?
  3. Does the supplier have adequate availability plans / future utilisation profiles to demonstrate that key resources can be made available to meet customer service needs?

D. Capacity planning and management

Has the supplier formulated a capacity plan at the appropriate level of detail, taking into account workload predictions, upgrades, and predicted changes?

E. Business continuity and contingency plans

Are the supplier’s plans for contingency and business continuity adequate and appropriate?

F. Strategic management

Does the supplier demonstrate a clear business strategy and vision of the future?Can the supplier’s strategy be progressed alongside the buyer’s strategy, to mutual benefit?

F. Risk management and risk transfer

For some contracts, the supplier’s ability and willingness to take on risk is a central concern. In such cases, evaluation should probe their understanding of and attitude towards the risks involved.

G. Supply chain management

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate how subcontractors and/or consortium members will be organised and managed?

H. Benefits management and delivery

The supplier should have a balanced approach to benefits, delivering those required and linking them with those they seek for themselves.

I. Relationship management

Is the supplier committed to communication and the principle of an open working relationship built on trust? How can they demonstrate this?

This concludes the series on the buyer’s perspective. In a future blog post we will be looking at the other side of the coin the seller’s perspective.


 

flamingo dubai

Birds of a feather #flock together.

Twitter has become one of the cornerstones of social media and, whether you live in downtown  Dubai or a farmstead in the Australian outback, you can talk to the world with a tap on the return key.

Since it’s birth in March 2006 (created by Jack Dorsey a software architecture named on of the top 35 innovators in the world by MIT’s Technology Review in 2008), Twitter has gone from zero to 300 million users in 2011.

So why so popular? Well, people like being sociable, and in the digital world so many people find themselves working in, taking out five minutes every hour or so makes you feel connected to the greater world.

And it’s turning out to be a great tool for businesses to talk directly to their customers. But you have to step lightly into this arena as a business, because one wrong, misdirected tweet can be a reputation spoiler.

For example, Habitat was left with a large dollop of egg on it’s face when it tried to piggy back the Iran elections with a dubious money saving offer tweet. The backlash was instant – Twitter leaves companies no place to hide. Even if you delete your tweet, someone, somewhere has already seen it and passed it on.

Now, this instantaneous passing on of information is awful if the message is wrong, however most companies believe that the re-tweeting of their message is the ultimate aim of being on Twitter. But that’s only a part of the story.

Twitter for business is a different game to personal tweeting. If you run a Dubai based business that is primarily a local service, getting re-tweeted by a guy in the USA to 30,000 followers will only be beneficial if some of his followers are based in Dubai.

Thinking local will really help when you start out on Twitter. Also, don’t just use twitter to talk only about your company, and what your company can do for others. Unless of course you are offering a free meal on a Thursday night, which may well get some interest going, there’s a fine balancing act to achieve.

Hash tags (#) are a wonderful way of localising your tweets. If you are in a particular street and something interesting is happening use a hash tag i.e.: guy juggling chainsaws on #alwasl #dubai! Which when accompanied by a picture will most likely get people looking, and maybe re-tweeting.

As a business you need to create a template for using Twitter. This way, whoever is in charge of the Twitter feed at any time keeps to a pre-set standard. Having a strong strategy before your very first tweet will enable you to keep on track and (hopefully) not commit a Habitat scale faux pas.

You also need to ensure that you are tweeting at a time when people are on twitter. Every industry will have it’s own optimum times, but as a general rule just after people have got to their desks, lunchtime and just before clocking off are good for the working day. You will find a natural rhythm over time and should test and test and test to see which Twitter times work best to reach your Dubai based customers and clients.

So here are few guidelines:

Don’t just tweet about your products.

  • Do talk about the wider business you’re in.
  • Be social, say hi to new followers.
  • Follow back those who choose to follow you – it’s good manners.
  • Re-tweet interesting and funny tweets you come across – but watch/listen/read all the way through just in case there is something highly offensive right at the end.
  • Use hash tags ‘#’ to localise your messages.
  • Tweet about your blog/new products/great service lightly.
  • Always thank people for re-tweeting your messages.

 

References:

 

@LinkedInQueen http://www.socialmediadelivered.com/

@Danzarella http:// http://danzarrella.com/

In part 2 of  the Buyer’s Perspective , Bill looks at some more key areas that a buyer may raise questions about – from whether your company aims are aligned to theirs to whether you  are able to establish the quality of your product. As a salesperson it is critical to understand their perspective before offering solutions.

4. Shared strategic aims

It is important to identify the supplier’s core business area(s), and whether the buyer’s requirement coincides with it. This will affect how important the contract would be to the supplier if they were to be successful. Consider the organisation’s strategic aims and those of the supplier, how they fit together and the areas where work is required to reconcile them.

Buyer's persperctive

Bill trains by raising questions and challenging you to find solutions through collaboration and simulated exercises

5. Culture

The compatibility between the business cultures of the customer and the supplier will be a key factor in determining the strength of the relationship and therefore the achievement of shared strategic aims.

6. Organisation and management

How does the supplier manage its own business? What tools does it use for quality management, financial management, performance management, contract management, risk management, change management etc?

7. Quality management

Does the supplier have a suitable quality management system and appropriate quality records? Does the organisation have a suitable quality policy and effective quality organisation? Is the supplier’s quality organisation and quality management system of a suitable standard, with demonstrable evidence of continuous service quality improvements in line with customer expectations?

8. Project and programme management

Can the supplier demonstrate experience and expertise in Project Management and/or Programme Management? How will the supplier interface with the project’s programme and project management procedures?

9. Proposed supplier organisation and project staffing

When the supplier’s capability to meet the buyer’s requirements has been established it will then be necessary to consider the organisation and resources the supplier intends to use to manage their responsibilities under any contract that may be awarded. Does the organisational structure of the supplier (or the supply chain they are proposing) enable them to meet the requirement, fulfil expectations of quality, and build a strong working relationship?

10.Technical understanding

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate full understanding of the requirement in all respects, or at least to the level you would expect pre-contract award? Does the supplier demonstrate full technical understanding of their own proposed solution?

11. Proposed management processes

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate their management expertise in processes relevant to the buyer’s requirements? Are the support systems that are in place adequate for the proposed arrangement? Does the supplier’s proposal have a suitable process for controlling changes in requirements?

The final key areas will be discussed next week in this comprehensive series on the Buyer’s perspective. Of course as Bill pointed out in Part 1 not all of these will be applicable during a given sales process , however they are food for thought along the journey to becoming a successful consultative seller.

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.

Companies in the UAE struggle to quickly train new entrants, get them productive and may give up on them before the end of the ubiquitous probationary period. One skill high on the most desirable attribute list both for new and current employees is  ‘creativity’. It is especially difficult to source and inspire creativity to fuel innovation- considered fundamental to business success in today’s competitive marketplace. However, what exactly are the leadership of companies doing to create a culture of learning, an essential stimulus for this rare ingredient of business sustainability?

There is a world of difference between critical thinking and creative thinking. Critical thinking is analytical, focused, convergent, reasoning and objective, involving left brain thought .Creative thinking on the other hand is generative, divergent, novel, subjective and decidedly more right brain. Creative people think “yes and….” rather than “yes but”.

There are various ways to encourage evolution, synthesis, revolution, reapplication of ideas and creative insight but first the barriers to creativity blockers need to be removed. Common barriers include:-

  • Problem denial. This wastes an opportunity to aggressively tackle them and rise to the challenge
  • Too difficult. Well the sceptical might have said that about space flight and snow domes in Dubai. Difficult takes longer, that’s all
  • I am not qualified! Neither were half of history’s great inventors, join the club! In sometimes takes someone from the outside looking in to solve a problem.
  • I am not creative! Oh yes you are, think back to all the creative uses you had for Lego!
  • I have to conform and appear rational. It makes me uncomfortable to let go, people will think my ideas ridiculous. You may recall Andrew Goodman laughed off Dragon’s Den for inventing a “StableTable” Device. Making millions now though.
  • Making judgements based on assumptions
  • Overanalysing.. bound to kill the creative juices
Stable Table

"The biggest advice I’d give anyone is to think of it like being at school when you’re given an item and asked to think about how many different ways you can use it. " Andrew Gordon

Leaders are vital to the creation of a corporate culture which values new ideas and should actively encourage sharing and discussion of ideas. It is not just your own work colleagues who can see new approaches to problems or open up new markets, there is a role for customers using your product. In the current social media climate, they are open to commenting and suggest really interesting changes or placements.  Creativity can be instantly stifled in bureaucratic workplaces where top down leaders quash ideas too quickly as unworkable. They should, if they expect innovation and market leadership try to find the good in each idea, let them incubate, build on them, work with them and then implement them. Don’t forget though that Vijay Govindarajan said , “innovation is creativity multiplied by execution”, so all these ideas  now need to become workable business models.

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 https://www.ismdubai.com/courses/market-research/index.php

Corporate Social responsibility or CSR has become integrated into many business models in the region. ISO26000 is the recognised international standard and the goal of CSR is for companies to accept responsibility for their public impact through supporting activities that promote community development, ethical practices, and offset environmental effects. The growth of CSR has increased with the growing ethical consumerism movement. Whilst critics may argue that some companies pay lip service to  CSR or that it detracts from the core business, other companies are finding that it creates shared value between their business and society, gaining them competitive advantage.

For CSR to succeed there has to be a link to your corporate strategy and business sector. Analysis of the positive and negative effects of your company can help to expose the most effective areas opportunities for proactively approaching and coordinating social, community and environmental responsibilities. In the UAE the Muslim practice of Zakat or private donations to those in need should be separated from a more public statement about your company CSR initiatives. Positive public reception of your company brand through your meaningful support of CSR can provide consumers with an ethical choice in a region that still has much work to do in protecting vulnerable communities.

Harmony House children supported by many Dubai children, parents, individuals and businesses

Lucy Bruce recipient of the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2010 in the Humanitarian Category, founder of Harmony House ( Delhi) and co-founder of  Homegrown Nursery (Dubai) spoke about  CSR :-

At Homegrown Nursery we have our own charitable and community initiative called Harmony House. Harmony House is a full time community centre in Delhi which provides education, food and medical facilities for women and children living in nearby slum areas. The parents that send their children to Homegrown Nursery share our values and are increasingly conscientious about teaching their children to give back to society, which is why we have incorporated this into a curriculum which values respect and awareness for themselves, others and our planet. For each child that attends our nursery a portion of their school fee is helping to sponsor a child at Harmony House creating a perfect synergy between our philosophy and company values. There are links to Harmony House beyond the sponsorship; parents as well as the Dubai community regularly lend their professional expertise to further enriching the Harmony House community. In addition to this Homegrown Nursery supports many other charitable organisations and initiatives within the UAE.

Companies should base their core CSR initiatives on those with the greatest shared value: those which will increase their own competitive effectiveness as well as have the greatest benefit to their community. Successful companies recognise that they need a healthy society and this will in turn sustain and create additional demand for their business.

“ When a well-run business applies its vast resources, expertise, and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake, it can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization( Porter & Kramer, 2006, p.14 ). “

References

Porter, M.E., & Kramer, M.R. ( 2006, December). Strategy and Society:The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 3, 2011, fromwww.salesforcefoundation.org/files/HBR-CompetiveAdvAndCSR.pdf

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.

In the October Issue of the Harvard Business Review magazine Zenger, Folkman and Edinger (2011) describe a path for executives to take to enhance their leadership strengths using a cross-training approach. Leadership key competencies were paired with competency companions and when these companions were addressed the strength became more distinct to the employer pushing executives closer to the tipping point they needed for promotion into a leadership role. They argue that a single extraordinary strength can elevate you from the bottom third of leaders whilst two distinct strengths will put you in the top third of candidates.

In the cross-training approach strengths should be identified and selection of strength to focus on quantitatively made. This is based on your skills, the importance of that strength to the organisation and the passion you feel for it (do you actively and happily seek knowledge in this area outside your defined job role?). A complimentary behaviour to strengthen is then chosen to work on. Their example executive’s selected personal strength was ‘inspires and motivates others’, a recognised leadership quality. From a list of competency companions which included ‘develops others’ and ‘nurtures innovation’, he chooses to work on ‘communicates powerfully and broadly’. This skill was also important to his organisation and if he successfully masters it could emphasise his strength, namely ‘to inspire and motivate others’.

Queen Rania

21st Century leaders must be inspirational

Whilst leaders should leverage their strengths it also behoves them to recognise and eliminate their weaknesses. Leaders that do not recognise their weaknesses are often dictatorial and egotistic, the type of leader that rules by authority and rank instead of knowledge, integrity,influence or charisma. Are you scrutinising your leadership skills and working on them?

“Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” –Peter F. Drucker

References

Zenger, J.H., Folkman, J.R., & Edinger, S.K. (2011, October). Making Yourself Indispensable. Harvard Business Review Magazine. Retrieved 4th October, 2011 from http://hbr.org/2011/10/making-yourself-indispensable/ar/4

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

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

Bill Levell for ISM Training

Bill mentors a delegate during an ISM Training Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Approach

  • 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.

Benefits

  • 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..

burj khalifa

AR 'at the top'!

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

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

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

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

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

As a non-finance manager or executive are you completely lost when it comes to understanding financial jargon? Well if you replied “Yes” then you belong to the majority according to the Harvard Business Review. It   revealed that only 38% of executives could pass a basic financial literacy test and many of them couldn’t define ‘free cash flow” (Berman & Knight, 2009).

See if you can answer these three questions they asked ..they are not as easy as they might appear and  only a mere 26% got question 2 right!

[QUIZZIN 1]

Finance may not be a large part of your role but it is very important in today’s challenging marketplace for all managers, executives and small business owners to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Successful managers must be able to communicate effectively with those who get things done and those controlling the financial aspects of the organisation.  To succeed as a non financial manager, knowledge of basic financial principles (balance sheet, profit/loss account and cash flow) as well as the budgeting process is critical. You have to understand that the  decisions you make in running your department or business will affect your organisation’s financial performance and you are likely to be held accountable for this. If you want to move to senior management then it is almost certain that you will need to have a working knowledge of financial management to help budgeting, increase profits through recognition of financial drivers/ loss makers and determine financial viability of projects.  It also enables you to make sense of those financial statements about your organisation’s operating costs and financial control.

The challenge is that a large number of us perceive finance as boring, irrelevant to our roles and difficult, but we all know that cash needs to be managed effectively in order to meet present and future demands . It might even help  ensure that your role will be  not become redundant due to “tighter financial controls” proposed by the accountants you perhaps walk swiftly past. Warren Buffett said ‘There are really only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t. Which one are you?”

Could you go up against the Dragons with your financial knowledge?

References

Berman, K., & Knight, J. (2009, October). Are your people financially literate? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 15, 2011, from http://hbr.org/2009/10/are-your-people-financially-literate/ar/1

Larry Crowne

Are you up for going back to school?

Training is important and can potentially be life changing. Just ask Tom Hanks character Larry Crowne in the film of the same title. There are very real benefits to training:-

  • Staff learn new skills
  • Increases motivation, retention, confidence and job satisfaction
  • Staff refresh skills and keep up to date with new information
  • Can improve ‘soft skills ‘ such as leadership and communication
  • Customers benefit from better service
  • A comprehensive professional development strategy helps recruit top candidates
  • Increases efficiency, time management and productivity
  • Public courses also allow them to network and hear best practice from their own and  other sectors

As a return on investment (ROI) ongoing training has an impact on productivity and consequently bottom line. In Dubai many companies understand the value of training and their training departments work hard to present options that meet their specific needs. For a better ROI they need to source training providers that:-

  • Meet their employee and organisational needs.
  • Have courses that cover the skills required (take time to read course objectives).
  • Can customize their training and apply it to their industry.
  • Can provide the training when you need it.
  • Demonstrate good value.
  • Offer ongoing support.
  • Have a good market reputation.
  • Have quality trainers experienced in the local Gulf market.
  • Can help identify the ‘skills gap’ your employees might have. Do you know what they don’t know?

One of the major objections to training “I don’t have time” is actually indicative of the need for training. If well supported by management, training initiatives would not be the cause of employees breaking out in a rash thinking about all the work they are missing whilst on a training course. The importance of scheduling training in advance is a solution to this and most providers will have a yearly training calendar at least for their public courses and would only be too delighted to meet to discuss tailored programs.  Booking in advance can also give employees the time they need to plan/arrange/delegate while they are in the training room.   Most employees will want to engage in further training, especially if they are able to gain approval for courses they wish to attend.

Michelle Lewis-Smith the lead training adviser for ISM training recognizes this as a common objection she receives and added,

I can honestly say that getting my clients to attend their 2nd course with ISM is a matter of ‘when can I register’ rather than ‘I don’t have time’. It’s always great to see our clients progression in their career too, over the years you slowly watch their job title change from Sales Executive to Sales Manager to Sales Director to General Manager etc….. These are people that are not afraid to admit that they need a little help/guidance in their development and of course these people act on it rather than worry about it.

Now whilst that may be banging our own drum,  it is true that the individuals that engage in lifelong learning do have an outlook that can keep pace and adapt to the many changes we all experience in our workplace . The staff that know the value of investing time in training will be amongst the most innovative, motivational , able employees with strong performance records and increased company loyalty.

The big question is how to keep your business sustainable and marginalizing the impact training can provide is terminal. If you aren’t constantly developing your own or your staff’s skills you can bet that your competitors are.

Key account management (KAM) is concerned with planning and managing the relationship with the customer but this is a means to an end if you have little business development to show for it. Key account managers are not just salesmen with good negotiation skills but apply clear strategy to select, develop and maintain their most important customers in order to profit from them. They need to constantly update their own skills and have a clear idea of company strategy, operations and marketing functions in order to build lasting relationships with their key accounts. Customers now have power over their suppliers and are looking for greater partnership, anticipation of their needs and customised solutions/resources to give them competitive advantage.

Diego in Dubai

Brand Dubai rolls out the red carpet for Maradona

Even for a large company the number of key accounts should not become unmanageable (optimum 15 to 35) and the right accounts should be selected for inclusion. With high numbers of key accounts it is doubtful that you can successfully attend to them and failing to deliver can lead to them exercising their customer power and going elsewhere.

When selecting these key accounts bear in mind the following:-

  • Do your key accounts have a clear idea of your company strategy and are they aligned to it?
  • Are they leaders in their field?
  • Did you invest time and process in choosing them?
  • Did you choose them objectively? Or were they just important to particular individuals/chosen under internal or political pressure.
  • Is each department unified in the choices, were their views accounted for?
  • Did you focus on the customer – their potential, their position in their marketplace, their strategy or just on the current profit yield from the customer?
  • Did you use a criteria based approach to selection that was clear and covered customer needs/outcomes/attributes and risks?
  • Do you have a dynamic process monitoring these accounts and review their resource allocation/status if they are not performing? Are you prepared to tactfully diminish their resource allocation?
  • Are you using reliable diagnostic tools and measures of performance for your key accounts?

If you have answered yes to most of these questions then clearly you are not spending vast amounts of time managing accounts that really are not profiting your company and don’t belong in the key account category.

ISM training will be running a Key Account Management course this month please contact Michelle for details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Augmented raybans

Do you think my augmented Ray bans look OK?

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

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

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

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

Heineken ( Taiwan)

Lego

Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam

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.

Generation X
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.

“Oral delivery aims at persuasion and making the listener believe they are converted. Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded.” Goethe.

Jedi Mind trickUnless you wave your arms around and alter the tone of your voice like Obi Wan Kenobi or can control minds like Professor Xavier, it may be that you need a few tips in the art of persuasion. As with most conversations in life if you listen to your audience and understand their motivations first, then you can offer solutions and a different perspective.

We have all sat through dull presentations, slide after slide delivered with all the passion of a stuffed animal. As an audience we try in vain to signal our disinterest flicking through material, checking our messages, shifting in our chairs. We really do want to be enlightened; after all we have given up our valuable time to be there. All too often the presenter forgets that as the audience the presentation should be all about us and not about them, their accomplishments, their company or their product. Of course it is about those things but if you fail to engage and involve the audience and listen to them you might as well pack up and go home.

The skill of being able to present yourself or your company in a professional, memorable and persuasive way does not come easy to most and needs practice and refinement to achieve objectives. If you have to speak at meetings and conferences; put up a case to the board; communicate company policy; pitch to prospective customers or carry out business development responsibility then you need to be able to persuade. A persuasive presentation normally starts with a story, statistics or facts to gain our attention from the beginning, connects the content with our needs and involves us, the audience, in developing a solution. However, when developing your persuasive presentation you need to first focus on analysing the audience. Ask yourself these questions to get you started:-

  • “Why should they care?” or “What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)”
  • “What motivates the audience?”
  • “How much do they already know?”
  • “What biases might they have?”
  • “What interests do they have? Do members of the audience have conflicting interests?”

Thinking about these and embedding them into your presentation will persuade the audience you are there for them. Even Steve Jobs started somewhere, here he is persuading us to buy Mac’s in 1984 and he is still persuading us today.

If you are interested in developing your presentation skills please contact ISM Training, Dubai for further information on our public and in-house courses.

It’s been some months now since the launch of our new website and generally feedback has been good. Most of you have found it easier to access our training course brochures which was always an issue in the past , and there is easier access to our latest course schedule on the front page. It is now therefore high time that we created our Blog – what marketing organisation should be without one. We hope that you will enjoy the issues discussed, get involved and embrace the concept of lifelong learning.So sit down,welcome and read on…