Emotional Intelligence (EI): A Job Requirement?

Emotional Intelligence

For decades the term IQ has been bandied about as a prerequisite for career and life success. You either have a high IQ which makes you an achiever, or you don’t and get by perfectly well in life as an average employee. However the newest buzz word, Emotional Intelligence (EI), is something we can all get on board with because as humans we each possess multiple emotions and these emotions can be controlled, moulded and channelled to help us evolve into more productive professionals at the workplace.

So what by definition is Emotional Intelligence? It’s the ability to identify and control your own emotions and the emotions of others through skilled manipulation of emotional awareness. This ability to harness and consequently manage emotions is what can make a powerful leader (think politician). Obviously not every profession demands a high level of people skills or a deep understanding of human behaviour. But where it is required, and where it becomes catalyst for career advancement, a mastery of emotional intelligence can contribute to a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, culminating in a successful and lucrative career.

The theory of EI was proposed in 1990 by Peter Salovey (now Provost of Yale University) and John D Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire. According to Mayer, “People with high EI, we believed, could solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly. High EI people, for example, can accurately perceive emotions in faces. Such individuals also know how to use emotional episodes in their lives to promote specific types of thinking. They know, for example, that sadness promotes analytical thought and so they may prefer to analyze things when they are in a sad mood (given the choice). High EI people also understand the meanings that emotions convey: They know that angry people can be dangerous, that happiness means that someone wants to join with others, and that some sad people may prefer to be alone.”

Emotional intelligence skills are typically divided into four categories: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness and Relationship management. These skills when mastered and used in conjunction with conflict resolution tools can prove a potent armoury for the modern day corporate warrior.

“Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.”

FedEx Express, the world largest cargo airline with over 290,000 employees and one of Fortune’s top 20 “Most Admired” companies for a decade, has implemented EI assessment and development into a six-month on-boarding process for new managers with remarkable results. “The program is yielding an 8-11% increase in core leadership competencies, with over half the participants experiencing very large (10-50%) improvements in certain key emotional intelligence skills and leadership outcomes: 72% of the program participants experience very large increases in decision making; 60% in Quality of Life, and 58% show major improvements in Influence.”

Most companies still tend to focus their hiring process and consequent training on hard skills. Typically little attention has been placed on soft skill competencies such as stress/conflict management, assertiveness, empathy, and social aptitude. In the real world these are vital skills that build strong competency in employees and management and are reflected in a company’s success.

Conflict and stress are ever present in our lives and we learn to deal with the unpleasant and negative side effects the best way we can. Now with the availability of EI training courses the good news is that you can learn how to deal with difficult people, how not to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, when to take a step back, how to listen and communicate with empathy and a ton of other traits you never thought you could acquire. With some guidance and practice we can reprogram ourselves to don many facial masks, with accompanying body language and tone of voice, as the situation requires.

On Sunday 26th June ISM will be conducting a Summer Short Course titled “Self-Smart, People Smart – An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence”. This is an opportunity to explore and gain insight into your own level of emotional intelligence amidst a selected group of 18 participants. Contact ISM for more details.



You may not get as many followers as Katy,, but you can still improve your online presence.

From being completely unheard of 10 years ago, social media has become a major element to any marketing campaign. Yet many companies are still unsure about how to harness its power. But whether you are a newbie in Dubai’s start-up community, or an established business, there is one sure fire way to increase your profile online: integration.

Integrating all your social media is the only way to truly raise your profile across the social media landscape. Having only one account on one platform may seem the easiest way forward, but it doesn’t give the extra oomph you need to get more eyeballs to your website.

The first step to integrating social media is find out where your customers hang out. Whether you sell music, are an engineering firm, manufacture goods, buy and sell stocks and shares, or make bridal gowns, there is a social networking site for you.

On top of the niche areas you create profiles on the big networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Once these have been set up decide whether you are a visual company and if you are, add yourself to Pinterest and Instagram. And if the budget will allow get a YouTube account and starts posting videos of your product and services.

Once these are in place the next stage is where the increased profile really starts to work for you. Every time you have a new photo of a product, a new video on your services, you post it on all of the platforms. Some you’ll link back to your website – i.e a link to a blog post on your site, a link to the new product launch page, a link from Twitter to your YouTube account showing the latest video.

Working on a rough 60/20/20* rule, you’ll begin to grow followings on your social accounts and drive traffic to your website.

There are lots of tools out there to help you manage your social media integration, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to post on multiple platforms. So if you are running a competition, you can send the link out simultaneously on all the platforms you’re using.

It’s a simple way to increase your profile online, but you need to keep on top of it. Either employ someone internally or externally to manage it for your business to reap the benefits.


* The 60/20/20 rule is that 60% of your content is business orientated, 20% is credential orientated, and 20 human orientated. As an example, you can show your products, talk about your services for 60% of the time on social media, but you have to also devote time to showing your credentials. These can be commenting professionally on something that is going on in your industry (which builds people’s confidence in you and your business), linking to a blog post that also shows your credentials, or retweeting/sharing posts from people you think are talking about your industry. The last 20% is reserved for the human element. Some companies call this the funny side, where you show you have a sense of humour by retweeting/sharing funny pictures. But it doesn’t have to be funny, it can be whimsical, such as sharing cute pictures of animals (a picture of any kind is more likely to be retweeted!), it can be your fascination with the sports team, your interest in architecture, or even a shared interest you develop over time with some of your followers. The rules are very bendy on this, but the one no-no… is sharing content that might cause offence.



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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Be socially active

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

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

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




Starting a new business, or trying to turn around an old one, takes courage – and a great business plan. Not all plans are created equal though. Some are a mix of waffle and reiterations of previous mistakes. So here are five tips to help you create a better business strategy.

Don’t pad the business plan

It can be tempting for a start-up to feel the need to go into every little detail, but this can lead to confusion for everyone reading it. Instead of getting a crisp overview of where you want the business to go, the waffle can obscure your true purpose.

By using a lean approach, you can focus on what is really important in an easy to assimilate format. Lean business strategies (or plans) keep to the essentials; only delving deeper into areas that truly require more explanation – and even then, ensure those are kept to a minimum.

Let it evolve

If a business strategy doesn’t evolve over time it will stagnate and ultimately fail. As your business needs change, the plan has to have the flexibility to help you make effective change. A plan that is set in stone with immovable sales targets and growth forecasts doesn’t allow for economic downturns, or gives you the ability to scale up production if demand requires it.

Build agility into your business strategy and go back to it regularly to ensure it’s still working for the business you are running today, not five years ago.

Have a plan b

For most businesses the strategy is all about being positive about the future, with no room for considering the bumps along the way. Yet by identifying potential problems long before they happen you can build an alternative route to steer your business towards success.

Your plan b doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the main strategy document, but thinking through this separate document will save you time, and reduce panic levels, later on.

Find the best people

The greatest business strategy will fail without a great team to implement it. It’s very easy to get lost in the grandeur of the plan and lose sight of who will actually be working with you to make it happen in the real world.

Within your plan identify the people you will be working with or the characteristics you need to make the plan work. Not only will it help you see what you really need from your potential team, it’ll show up the flaws in your current team.

Don’t aim for perfection straight away

Getting your business off the ground, or setting a new strategy in place, can be daunting, but don’t get mired in making it perfect before implementation. Get the core values established and then put your plan into action. Without action you can’t tell if your plan is really going to work or just an exercise in conceptual thinking.

Again keep it lean. This way anything that doesn’t work can be ditched earlier in the process, giving more breathing space to the more successful aspects of your business strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

taste stands

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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




It’s true that some salespeople have a natural talent for their profession, but it only applies to a small percentage. Even the most successful people will still have worked really hard to earn their reputation. So what does it take to become a successful salesman?

Be yourself

As the old adage goes, people buy from people. Regardless of whether a person wants, or needs a product, you want them to buy it from you – not the next shop down the mall. At the crunch point, especially in high stake sales environments, it can simply come down how well your potential customer likes you.

Sell the benefits

Thanks to some serious marketing research in the mid-twentieth century, we now know that people only want to know what’s in it for them. It really doesn’t matter that your new sprocket is the most advanced on the market to a customer. Professional salesmen sell on how the product will enhance a person’s life.

Use statistics wisely

If 60% of your customers only buy from you because you provide great customer service, shout about it. People feel reassured when they learn others are benefiting from buying from you. Transversely, there is a small minority who prefer to be outsiders – so know your market and use the statistics judiciously.

Get networking

In the hard-nosed world of business to business selling, the best way to find new customers is networking. These days there are numerous networking clubs for businesses, either professionally organised business breakfast style networking or local government networking. Try out as many as possible in your sales territory.

Qualify potential sales

Make sure the person you’re selling to has an actual need for your product. It’s a simple piece of advice, but very powerful. From the market stall holder calling out to passing trade, to a pre-arranged telephone sales call, knowing if someone needs your product saves everyone a lot of time and effort.

Know your supply chain

There are simple sales and then there are business sales. A simple sale is telling a customer a hat looks good on them. In the complex world of business sales, you have to be more aware of everything that’s going on in your business, and your customer’s business. Supply chain issue on your side have the potential to disrupt their business as well. Make it your job to manage the supply chain on behalf of your customer.

Set sales targets

A target is a great motivational force in business. You might exceed your goal of x number of sales in Q1, or fail to get even half, but at least you have a benchmark. By setting a target you make yourself think about how to bring in more business and begin to map out your sales strategy.

Have a sales strategy

With your target in place, you need a strategy to get to it. In most established businesses, there will be some tried and trusted methods of bringing in new business and getting out more from old customers. It doesn’t do any harm to dust these old strategies down occasionally. Take a look at them afresh and see if new methodologies, software, or mediums (such as social media) have anything valuable to add to your strategy.



Good employee management is one of the cornerstones of a successful business. Which means, as a manager, you need to know how to bring out the best in the people around you. Here are five ways to get the most from your team.

Equip for success

Even the best employee cannot do their job properly without the right tools. Take a good look at what your team is working with. Does your sales team have the best CRM software your can afford to do their jobs properly? Effective customer management is essential to good performance.

Remember the two to one rule

You have two ears and one mouth, so employ the two to one rule and listen more than you talk to your team. Ask questions and then sit back and listen to the feedback. People feel empowered when they know they are being listened to. You’ll learn a lot about what your people are thinking, and they’ll know they can come to you and talk through issues at any time. Building an open policy for talking through issues means people will bring issues to you when they crop up – allowing everyone to deal with problems more quickly.

King Kong

There are more subtle ways to voice your concerns.....

Quit the blame game

Don’t get involved in the blame culture. Everyone makes mistakes and the smart way to deal with mistakes is to find a way to rectify them quickly, rather than engaging in protracted blame sessions. By ditching the aggressive approach to people management you’ll create a culture in your office where employees will own up to a mistake more quickly. Problems will be solved faster and you can all get on with the business of making your company more successful.

Give responsibility

The flip side of not playing the blame game is to give people responsibility. A person who knows their every move is being monitored cannot grow and accept responsibility for their job. Obviously you need to work closely with trainees, but when you employ someone to do a specific job, have confidence in your hire and give them the space to get on with your job. Weekly meetings should be enough to find out if everything is on track.

Don’t be afraid to fire

Effective people management can mean making hard decisions. As a manager it’s your responsibility to ensure your team works at its optimum levels at all times. One person can ruin the productivity of the whole team. Ideally you’ll have already tried to talk to them, discover why they don’t gel with the rest of the people in your office. But if you continue to have problems you have to consider the bottom line – a bad employee can impact the financial future of your company. In these cases you have little choice but to either find them another position in the company that suits their personality, or to fire them. Be cautious that you do it in the right way so that you don’t leave yourself open to a protracted employment tribunal.

A seasoned sales person will tell you that the key to a successful year is a well thought out sales plan. Without one, your Dubai sales team is going to drift through the year unsure of how to propel potential growth for your company.

sales planning

ISM is the leader in sales training for the Gulf region and runs a highly regarded Sales Planning and Territory Management course.

Sure, you may hit lucky occasionally by landing a few new customers, or getting work in through existing customers. However, without a plan how can you be sure you’ve got the right people, in the right places, selling to the right customers? You also need to be aware of the product cycle – is your company making enough product to fulfill orders, or that there is sufficient demand for what you’re producing.

Even in the service industries, thorough sales planning will reap rewards. This is because a good sales plan isn’t just a quickly written document of where you hope to be in twelve months time, it is a complete overview of what your targets are for the year and how you will achieve those targets.

So the best place to start planning isn’t necessarily with a sales team meeting. You need to get key members of the company together to discuss all aspects of what is happening in the coming months.

Understanding how other departments are working is essential to creating a successful sales plan. If you are bringing out a new product in Q3, you need to know what marketing is being done around it, whether there are supply chain issues, what the production schedule is, as well as knowing what benefits the new product is bringing to your customers.

With this knowledge you can create a more targeted sales plan with your sales team. This plan must include the following:

Who is customer?

Do you really know who your customer is? It’s vital to any serious sales plan to identify both the real customer and potentially bad customers. Looking through sales to existing customers will clarify this area. Who are the ones who keep coming back and who are you wasting time on?

Reaching out

Take time out to understand how you’re best able to reach your target market and get them interested in what you’re selling. There may be barriers to using your product over another company’s – find out what they are and how best to show customers what you’re offering is superior.

Clearly defined goals

At the outset make it clear to everyone in the team what your objectives are in the sales plan. When all members of the team know what the goal is, they can pull together to make it happen.

Sales Budget

You need to know what the budget is and how to make the most of it. You may need to reach customers at trade shows, conferences, networking events, and street level sales events. Without a tight control on your budget, the cost of gaining new customers could impact on profits.

Territory planning

Establish who is going to cover which areas as soon as possible. By doing this you will be giving ownership and a certain level of control to members of your team. Within the territorial agreements your team can develop individual sales plans specific to that territory.

Recruitment and training

When setting out the sales plan you have to decide whether your team needs to grow. Identify at what point you’re going to need that additional support and plan how you are going to recruit and train new members to your team.

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?

Whether presenting to a small group of people in a boardroom, or hundreds at one of Dubai’s premier hotels, brushing up on your presentation skills is a must.

Very often a presentation can feel more like an endurance test, when it should be an informative and persuasive sales pitch. Remember your audience is there because your talk attracted them in the conference brochure, or the boss told everyone to be at the meeting. It’s your job to makes sure they don’t walk away feeling their time has been wasted.

Research who you’re talking to

If you are presenting to a large group of people at a conference, understand what their overarching concerns are. Is there a particular issue affecting their industry? What are the specific problems they are facing that your company can help solve? If you know some of the people in the audience, consider talking to them before the presentation and find out what they want to hear.

Stand up straight and smile

It’s often the little things in life that make the biggest difference. At the beginning of your presentation face the audience and look around the whole room, smile and say hello. Making people feel welcome will put them in a more receptive frame of mind. Smiling will make them more at ease.

Look the part

Depending on whom you are talking to will dictate how you dress. Think about what will make your audience have more faith in your words. Are they going to respond better to a suit, or will smart casual win them over?

Structure your presentation

Presenting is a bit like storytelling. You need a beginning, middle and an end. This gives the presentation a good flow and people are wondering why you suddenly bring up a solution to a problem you’ve not spoken of yet.

Don’t just repeat what is on the PowerPoint

Everyone has heard of death by PowerPoint. Don’t let your presentation slip into this category. If you are using slides, don’t just repeat what is shown on the screen. Have a separate script prepared that enhances what people are reading on the screen.


If you don’t practice your talk, you will fail to engage with the audience. They will be moments when you forget what you are meant to say, you’ll trip up on basic points and the audience will get the feeling you really didn’t think them important enough to prepare properly.

Knowing what you want to say will mean that you aren’t always looking down at your notes, and you can spend more time looking at the audience, hopefully creating a real connection that will make it easier for them to come and talk to you afterwards.

Don’t overrun

If you have 15 minutes with five minutes for questions, don’t talk for 30 minutes. Your audience may want to go and see another speaker, or they might have another appointment lined up straight after your talk. Keeping to the allotted time is a key presentation skill.

Keeping within the time given is one of the more important presentation skills. It keeps you focussed and audiences are happier. It also means that if someone does have a question, the whole audience will be listening, not just the ones who stayed behind out of politeness or because they had nowhere better to go.

Managers who don’t delegate put their personal success in jeopardy as much as they do their company’s success. Delegation is an essential productivity skill that should be embraced by leaders at every level of your company in Dubai. Delegate outcomes and not just tasks for business growth.

But because not everyone is comfortable with the thought of delegating responsibility out to their team, here are five simple tips on how to take the plunge.

dilbert delegation

Delegation the Dilbert way.

Plan ahead

This is true for those who are experienced at delegating, as well as newbies to the business of getting others to work on a project with you. Before you get everyone around the table, think about what the end goal is, how best to get there, and who best to employ in different aspects of the project.

Pick the team for the project

Avoid the temptation to work only with people you get on well with in the office. Look carefully at everyone’s abilities and see who is best placed to work on each project based on those abilities. You’ll find some people are more adept at planning, others more creative. Discovering people’s core skills will make the team better and, by extension, should improve the quality of the project as a whole.

Have regular meetings

Unless there is an exceptionally tight deadline that demands daily meetings, a weekly catch up will keep you up to date with all aspects of the project. These meetings also provide a space for people to ask you questions, especially during the early stages of a project when your team will be looking to you to outline their roles.

Have a clear goal

From the outset, make sure everyone on the team knows what the goal is of the project. Even on a small one, or with someone who has a quite minor role, if everyone knows how their contribution helps to achieve the goal, they will have a greater sense of involvement in the process.

Reward good progress

As important as regular meetings, is the acknowledgement that someone has done well. Recognising and praising individuals during a project keeps morale up and ensures that people don’t start to feel that their hard work is not being seen. A simple ‘thank you, you’re doing a great job.’ can be a very effective way to motivate your team, especially when they’ve been putting in extra hours to keep the project on course.

When you are used to making all the decisions and auctioning everything, letting go and allowing others to have a hand in your projects isn’t necessarily easily. Yet as projects become larger, it becomes impossible for one person alone to control every aspect of it. And, it won’t help the project progress either.

For those unused to delegating, it is best to start small. Find a short project and apply the five simple steps outlined to begin your journey into delegating.

Once you’ve done it on a small project, you can start applying it to the larger ones. You’ll not only be helping your company grow in Dubai, but you’ll experience how delegating tasks can make you a better leader.

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

paris hilton dubai

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Selling in understandably at the core of every business, which means your Dubai sales team is very much the heart of your company. If they are underachieving on a regular basis there must be a reason for it, and more often than not it stems from a lack of motivation. After all, what do they get for marketing your products far and wide and then making huge sales other than their basic wage packet and maybe a pat on the back once in a while?

Billionaire entrepreneur, Sir Alan Sugar once said, ‘Love what you do and do what you love, otherwise you will become unhappy and self-defeating’ and the last thing you want, or need, is an unhappy, self-defeating sales team.

So how do you motivate your sales team to produce better results on an on-going basis?

1. Give them Training in New Marketing Strategies

You may not think that your small, Dubai-based sales team needs any additional training, but the simple act of showing them new marketing strategies and explaining new technologies to them will result in increased motivation.


Well firstly you’re showing your sales team that you have enough confidence in them to bother training them in new methods of selling. Confidence and motivation are very much interlinked, which means if you go to the trouble of showing confidence in your employees they will become motivated to prove your confidence is well placed.

Secondly, any new selling techniques or marketing strategies that you teach them will undoubtedly improve their sales figures, and ultimately your profits.

2. Praise them for a Job Well Done

It doesn’t matter whether you are based in Dubai, the UAE or elsewhere in the world, praise for a job well done is incredibly motivational, and especially when it comes from someone who is high up in the management team. Larger companies in particular tend to forget that their sales teams are in fact human, and that they thrive on praise rather than criticism.

Think about it for just one minute…when was the last time you actually said well done to a specific member of your sales team? We don’t mean a general ‘well done’ during a team briefing, we mean a personal ‘good job’ to a high-achieving member of your team?

3. Give them an Incentive


All it takes is a bit of motivation to produce a successful sales team.

Everybody likes a bit of competition which is why pitting your sales team against each other (in a friendly, fun way of course) can motivate them to achieve more. Add into the mix a little incentive each month and you have the recipe for a much more productive sales team.

Obviously you don’t need to offer things like new cars and holidays as incentives, but small things such as a day off with pay, or a meal out in a nice restaurant is something to aim for in addition to the accolade of being top sales person for the month. Plus, if you change the goal each month e.g. top overall sales one month but top sales to new clients the next month etc. you can manipulate the results to an extent so that everyone in your sales team has the opportunity of ‘winning’.

Making continued sales in today’s economy is not an easy prospect which is why you need to give your Dubai sales team all the encouragement and praise they need to make it happen. Show faith in them and they will reward you with better results in return, and you might just have a bit of fun along the way.



Before you embark on a social media campaign, your Dubai marketing team needs to plan, plan, plan. A scattered approach will yield scattered results at best. At worst, lots of social media accounts will open, and then nothing will get posted.

There are several different vehicles you can choose from to begin a social media campaign. Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter are the main ones. But which one do you choose?


Pooh has a lot to say about thinking before acting. Do you have a well thought out social media marketing strategy ?

Well you are already well ahead of yourself here. Because the starting point is not what vehicle to choose, but deciding what your marketing campaign is aiming to achieve. Are you promoting the business as a whole, or one particular aspect?

Once you’ve identified what you are marketing, you then have to think about where you want people to go once they have been engaged. Do you want them to go to buy a product in a real shop? Are you promoting a product or service on your website? Is the aim to get people to your website and pick up the phone to contact you? Or to make a purchase on the website?

Not knowing the answer to these questions places your social media strategy into the pointless zone: engagement without a goal.

Answer all these questions as fully as possible before deciding which social media vehicle is going to help you achieve the most success. As an example, if you are selling a new range of cosmetics, you will need videos showing people using the cosmetics, beautiful images on Pinterest, a twitter account and a Facebook account to talk to customers and tell them of offers in Dubai shopping malls. And your website has to reflect the brand message.

But if you are offering consultation services, you need a truly authoritative blog, perhaps some tutorials on YouTube, some audio downloads and a LinkedIn account to talk to other businesses.

At this point you should know what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and how you want to sell it. So who do you put in charge of the social media campaign? Do you place it in the hands of the new intern? Do you rotate who works on it?

The answer is obviously no, you don’t. You need someone who is net savvy, marketing savvy, customer orientated and comfortable confining their comments to 142 characters. This is not a job for an intern. You need a dedicated team who can track what is going on in each of the vehicles you’ve chosen.

Because when you have more than one social media platform, you need to know when to feed information into it. If you have a new video up on YouTube, tell people about it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. A new blog post is the same; tell people it’s up. Think about social media as multiple loops that feed into different parts of your website. To keep track of everything, have a big calendar on the marketing office wall that shows everyone when videos, blogs, audio content is being produced and loaded. Preparation is key. Thoroughly planned, your Dubai social media strategy will be engaging,informative and effective allowing your business to reap the rewards.



Viral marketing is a difficult concept for your Dubai marketing team to turn into reality. What will tickle the imagination of the general public? How do people then feel compelled to share it with their friends? But most importantly, how can you market your products and services this way?

[embedplusvideo height=”241″ width=”380″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/1TZxw9wMdUI?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=1TZxw9wMdUI&width=380&height=241&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep6900″ /]

Firstly, don’t confuse a really popular video on YouTube with viral marketing. A funny cat video may well get viewed over a million times in 24 hours, but it’s not selling anything other than funny cats and, of course, YouTube. The viral nature of videos sells YouTube far better than an ad campaign could have done. Kia’s grooving hamsters were a late entry into the viral charts in August with their latest dance ( see video above.)

This shows the flipside of viral marketing. Very often people mistake the message as the marketing. Yet, as Marshal McCluhan said in his seminal work ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’, it is the medium that is the message.

By using a new type of medium (TV, YouTube, Facebook), your message can travel in new and distinct ways through the population. Find a new medium that people like using, or receiving information through, and you can start creating your sales message.

Creative quarters in every major city in the world are constantly on the look out for new ways of spreading their message. QR Codes and Augmented Reality are the latest trends in this ever-expanding search for the new. However, there are still ways of making the grade virally, without the major spend in new territory.


Free is always going to generate interest. And it’s not just the current climate that makes free so easy to disseminate. Free has always held people’s attention. A staple of beauty magazines was the free sample. A little sachet of cream that promised clearer, tighter, dazzling, skin.

In the age of the internet it is information that holds value. Giving away a free guide, and pdf, free Kindle book, is a great way to spread an idea. Very often that idea is that your company knows what it’s talking about. It’s an excellent way to increase brand awareness and goes some way to give a base to growing brand loyalty. Just make sure your freebie is worth the time of the person reading it. This is a one shot deal. Mess it up and you end with a poor reputation, or no reputation at all.


We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Clicked the share button on Facebook because we thought it was funny? It is known that an item shared on Facebook is four times more likely to lead to a sale. Get it right and your video, image or daily deal will attract the right attention.

On YouTube careers have been launched and millions made. It is still a great way to give your product or service some exposure. But, again think before your post because if you are putting out lame, boring, thinly populated material, you’ll be doing more harm than good.


Let’s suppose that you run a wool shop. You’ve created a free document that shows novices how to knit a jumper. And the video that accompanies it is proving very popular. So what now? Are more people coming to your online wool shop and buying from you? Not as many as you’d have liked? Have you provided them with a space to talk to you?

Social media came out of nowhere and quickly gained a unique place in the hearts of everyone with an internet connection. From Dubai to Brisbane, Mumbai to London, keeping in touch and spreading the word has never been so easy.

This is why you should be cautious, especially if you are using social media for business. There are a lot of traps and pitfalls, either where you annoy people or you open yourself, and your company, up to ridicule.

When any company starts out using social media the above are never part of their objectives, but it’s an easy place to find yourself. So here are some mistakes you should avoid:

Don’t be Rude!

Being rude is one of the worst things you can do in any circumstance, particularly to a customer. However, the speed of the net can mean an ill-chosen reply on Twitter or Facebook can be re-tweeted or shared faster than you can go and make a cup of coffee. In fact, by the time you’ve returned from making coffee, you could well see your business name in tatters.

The best way of dealing with customers online who make you angry is to pause before typing. Never tweet or reply to a message on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or a forum, if you are angry. Sit back and take a minute.

For most companies, the only way to deal with problems online is to have a strong policy in place before you even start interacting with your customers, or potential customers. A standard response gives you breathing space, and if there is a genuine complaint, tell them you are looking into it, and keep them informed of any progress that is being made.

Remember You’re a Business


While most of us love elephants,Go Daddy's CEO Bob Parsons famously tweeted about killing one.Backlash ? Oh yes...!

This is particularly relevant if you are working for yourself, or there are only a few of you in your business. The lines between your personal and your business opinions can blur easily. It’s far better to have a personal account and a business account. This way you have a clear idea of which persona you are projecting at any particular time. And also, by doing this, there is little chance you’ll be boring your customers with your opinion of the half time score.

Replying to Customers

Nobody likes to be left standing around in a shop when they need a question answering. And the same is true online. People want their questions answered fairly quickly. If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ account the response time is going to be slightly longer. People are used to waiting a little while in these mediums. However, on Twitter, people are a little more impatient, so a speedy response will be appreciated.

Constant Promotion is a Turn Off

Ever wondered why big companies spend so much money on fun apps, giving away free goods, sponsoring festivals and sports events? It’s the fun factor. Without a huge dollop of fun thrown in now and again, promotion is just sell, sell, sell. And few people respond positively to the constant big sell.

And the same is true online. Don’t just sell yourself all day. Keep your customers and clients informed with industry opinions, fun facts, giveaways and competitions. Mix up your social media presence; it’ll be more fun for you and more interesting for your customers.

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.

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


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.

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?


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.

Getting a Dubai company LinkedIn page up and running, or your personal profile working harder for you, is a quick process that can boost your own credibility as well as that of your business.

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn has developed a reputation for being the social media networking site for professionals. Unlike YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, this is a space devoted to building up relationships for business, not friendships (although that does happen, it is never as relaxed).

Which is why if you are not on there, you need to get your skates on. I’d hazard that most, if not all, of your contemporaries already have a basic account. With over 150 million users in over 200 countries, that’s a lot of business you could be missing out on.

A LinkedIn profile is nothing like your Facebook profile. This is the place where you tell people what is on your resume or CV, not where you spent your birthday party. And ensuring your profile gets seen is a matter of learning how to network online in a similar way that you’d network in real life. The only difference is that people can find out almost instantly what you’ve done in your career.

Making your profile work harder for you will require spending a bit of time on the site every week. There are some simple ways of boosting your profile:

Get your profile up to date – Every time you move job, learn a new skill, attend a seminar, or win an award, make sure you update your information. Remember, recruitment consultants use LinkedIn to find quality job candidates all the time. If you are looking for a new position, spend as much time polishing your LinkedIn profile as you would on your CV.

Ask for a recommendation – This is really important if you are a business or a freelancer. Ask people you’ve worked for, clients and partners to post a recommendation on your page. It allows visitors to see that you not only have the skills they are looking for, other people like what you do as well.

Join in discussions – There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, talking about a wide range of topics, some of which will be relevant to your industry. Join the ones you are most interested in, or are most relevant to your company, and get talking on the topics and start some of your own. Showing you have an authoritative voice will benefit your company and your personal standing in the LinkedIn community.

Utilize the space – Don’t just give a short resume of yourself or your business. When people arrive on your business page on LinkedIn, they want to find out about your company, so give them all the information you want them to have. On your personal LinkedIn page, use the Summary section to really sell yourself and your abilities.

If you are going to use a piece of software like Hootesuite to send out messages to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, at the same time, just keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional space and talk like you would in the office, and not how you’d chat with friends during downtime in Dubai Marina!

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.

When people aren’t happy in their workplace, the workflow is interrupted and the ripples run through the entire team. Conflict arises from many different sources: a misleading claim for a successful advertising concept at your Dubai marketing meeting, a team fragmenting during a stressful point in a project, or a simple gripe over missing food in the office fridge.

Finding the best way to resolve conflict in the office means knowing how to effectively implement your company’s human resource guidelines. Just as you wouldn’t sue your neighbour the first time their child chucks a ball over the fence, you wouldn’t go straight for formal warnings when tensions rise in the workplace – well not unless the tensions had resulted in some seriously criminal behaviour.

Avengers team

Can you get them to work together as a team?

Initially your job as manager of a team of people is to diffuse the situation when it becomes a problem to the overall running of the team. This may mean pulling the main protagonists to one side and giving them the chance to air their views. At this stage it’s not about finding out which one of them is wrong, it’s more about allowing them to talk in a reasonable manner, in a safe place. This is essential to achieving an early resolution. Let a situation go too far and they may not even wish to sit in the same room to talk it through.

What you are aiming for is a position where all parties get to air their views equally. Some conflict may arise out of one person receiving a promotion that another person feels unfairly missed them. Or there may be serious disagreements over the right way to structure a bid. You may not wish to take out time during a busy period, but an hour taken out to help people can prevent hours and hours of poorly done work down the line.

At the initial stage, do keep a note of all the dealings with the conflict. This will help you if there are more problems down the line. If they haven’t listened to each other, you can at least show them your thoughts on the meeting and how it was concluded.

Allow each person equal time to put forward their side of the problem, but bear in mind that each person is seeing it solely from their point of view. It is your job to keep a sense of perspective and not be drawn yourself into the argument.

Try and find a point on which everyone agrees and build a solution around it. If you cannot find resolution, the next step could be mediation. This is a more formal meeting and you should talk to someone in human resources beforehand. They will have more experience dealing with conflict and may be able to offer a solution you hadn’t thought of.

But don’t forget, not all conflict is necessarily bad. There are times when two people do not see eye to eye on how to deliver a new product. In these situations, the win/win scenario can be made to fit. Even though neither of them can be completely right, a seasoned well trained manager of a Dubai company will know how to solve the problem: look at both methods and take the very best ideas from both camps.



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:


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.


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.

Weekends are a precious space to take a breather from the office. Yet when you have just slogged through the commute back to your Dubai home, the bad vibes in your office can blow away any peace you might have had left.

Nothing ruins you mood, and sometimes your commitment to your job, faster than office politics. And it isn’t just a small annoyance, chat to anyone in HR and they’ll readily tell you the overall effect of someone, or a group of people. Playing office politics is detrimental in terms of a department’s performance: it lowers productivity and leads to higher staff turnover.

camel milk

A switch to camel milk might just stop the milk thief in their tracks !

There are, of course, levels of office politics ranging from simple ignoring a colleague to specifically targeting an individual and making their life a misery. However you look at it, it’s going to cause trouble. An ignored colleague is either going to feel ostracised and perform badly, or feel a lack of support and seek employment elsewhere.

On the other end of the scale where someone is specifically targeted, this goes beyond office politics and into bullying territory. In a culture where not passing on important information to an individual is accepted, it has ramifications for the business as well as the individual.

Not only could a person be made to look stupid at a group meeting, it might even cause them to lose a client. Neither is good. Losing a client hurts the entire company. The individual meanwhile is thoroughly demotivated and will either quit or under perform.

So how do you combat this happiness, time and productivity sucker? If you are a manager of a the group and can see the office politics being played out in front of you, it is part of your job to sort it out. Let’s face it, any detrimental activities going on during your watch is going to have a negative impact on your promotion prospects.

If you are the person feeling the brunt of the office politics, getting it off your chest may be difficult, but if you want to stay within the company rather than trying for a new job, you have to find the right person in the organisation to talk to.

In both cases you have to prepare yourself beforehand. To get a successful resolution you need to think of all the possible angles the other person is going to take. It may be that there is a little bit of tit for tat going on where no one person started it, but the whole department is suffering as a consequence. It’s possible that your manager is actually in on the game of politics – perhaps taking credit for your ideas and hard graft. It may be that you need to find an advocate in HR.

As with most difficult conversations in life, first of all think about what result you are looking for from the conversation. Without an end goal, the drive of the conversation can easily be taken away from you. Practicing your opening comments is key. Knowing exactly what you want to say will help you get over the hurdle of broaching the subject with the other person. Get yourself into a calm place as well: ranting doesn’t help your cause. Listen to the response, remember they have a right to their point of view, yet keep in mind your goal.

Tough as it is to confront a problem in the office, your daily commute through Deira will be significantly easier if you tackle it. And don’t wait until Thursday to do it. Make the commitment at the beginning of the week so you can all work through the after effects together.

How do you become a great leader? Well, first of all becoming a leader doesn’t suit everyone. Some people are great innovators, brilliant managers or excellent at hiring the right people. But, if you feel that leadership is the role you want, here are five traits to work on. They work for business leaders all over the world, whether they are selling a cup cake franchise in Boston, or rivets in Dubai, leadership characteristics are universal.

yoga in dubai

Yoga might not be your thing but you have to admire their 5.30 am start in Zabeel Park

Have a Clear Focus

Every morning a leader wakes up knowing the prime business focus of the day. Without a clear objective from the top, members of the team would have difficulty keeping on track with a project.

One tried and trusted method for keeping yourself focused is to get up a bit earlier than you normally do and thinking about where you need to be by the end of the day.

Adapt and Change

It sounds counter-intuitive, but without the ability to use the changes in the world around you, a business will have difficulty keeping the momentum going. The world changes rapidly. This is nothing new, but there are game changing moments in every industry. Social media is a prime example of this. Those who thought it was just fad have missed out on the early years learning how it might work for their company.

This doesn’t mean you chop and change your main ideas constantly; nothing would get out into the world if you did, but you have to use the changes around you to your advantage.

Make Difficult Decisions

If there’s one point where leader really shines, it’s making the difficult decisions that nobody else can, or should be making. This can be whether to ditch a project that has been in development for over six months, or understanding whether a particular sales model is working for your company.

A leader also understands that to make their team outstanding, it has to have the right people. Knowing when to let someone go is one thing, putting it into practice is where a true leader stands out. Done in the right way it will make the team stronger, done badly and the whole team might feel insecure and wonder who is next.

Have Courage

There are different types of courage in business life. It’s one thing to show off your driving skills during a wadi bashing team building exercise, but quite another thing to confront difficult issues within your company or team.

If you recognise there is a problem nobody else is facing up to, this is where the real courage comes into play…figuring out how to address the problem to get the outcome you know your company needs.

Keep Learning

An inspiring story will help you understand how other leaders became who they are, and as a consequence, help you become a better leader. Take a good look around the Kindle store, chat to your local bookshop owner, talk to your business colleagues, family and friends. Every one of them will have their own favourite book. And don’t confine yourself to the business shelves, read biographies on your favourite sporting hero or fashion designer, look beyond the business rack and delve into arts, film, even the hobby aisle. Go on courses run by inspirational people who will open your mind to new possibilities.

Without learning from the success and failures of people we know personally, or admire from a distance, we cannot develop the full range of abilities needed to become a really good leader. To develop learning cultures within your own organisation that will sustain business in the future , a leader needs to model and adopt lifelong learning practices themselves.

The leadership courses run by the Institute of Sales and Marketing in Dubai are in high demand because they help companies develop effective leadership principles. Please go to for more details on the next course available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cool romance pinterest

Get you nails on Orly's goodie bag!

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

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

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

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







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 /





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.


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

Blackberry porsche design phone

Blackberry Porsche 'blinging' AR to Dubai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange lines China

Just what are these lines in the Chinese desert?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QR code usage

Where are people accessing QR codes from?

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

Presentation skills are always difficult to master, they take practice. One tip is to always remember that the audience is your central focus; they are giving up valuable time so you can communicate important information. You may have a well-conceived idea of what you are verbally saying, but do you know what you are saying non-verbally? We all want an engaged audience, whether it is an audience of one or one hundred, so it is vital that you are quickly able to follow the non-verbal clues they give you and adapt your own body language to establish rapport and engage them.

Micro-expressions, can you read them or do you need an emoticon?

One aspect that helps us to be better communicators is mastering the non-verbal clues that we are both giving and receiving. Non-verbal communication includes gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, body movements, touch, space, environmental contexts, physiologic responses (e.g. reddening) and voice tone; inflection or pace . The ability to use these signs to help interpret the flow of a conversation can dramatically improve communication and understanding. When your non-verbal cues are aligned to your verbal message then communication is clearer, more open and also seen as more trustworthy- essential to building a strong business rapport. When you become aware and adept at controlling your own emotions you are able to focus on reading the signs in others. Look for inconsistencies between non-verbal and verbal communications and groupings of non-verbal clues which are all conveying the same overall message. Remember that there will be cultural and generational differences in non-verbal clues so it is difficult to interpret an isolated event and more accurate to look at a group of signals.

Practicing for example some cues that denote confidence seems like a good idea, using strong purposeful gestures, speaking slower with no more than a moderate voice and engaging eye contact with a smile. Even if we master this, however, we might still not be in control of all of our body language. Observation of people helps, start looking around restaurants/ public spaces and interpreting relationships without hearing words. Chances are you will be able to identify defensive postures, lying, disengagement and aggressiveness as well as a myriad of other non-verbal pointers.

Eye contact is used to signal many different intentions and many of us will already know that looking up and to the left is done when recalling a memory and looking up and to the right denotes using your imagination (or possibly lying!). It is again important to establish the normal for each individual by asking base line questions and paying attention to the rest of the non-verbal clues. Moving the feet for example ( check under the table ), over or under emphasis of voice as well as keeping the limbs closer to the body would reinforce a sense someone is lying when appearing in a cluster of behavioural responses. Even the humble knee can give a lot away, watch where it is pointing to find out their subconscious desire, towards the door and away from your business transaction? Of course, it could just be comfort! When we recognise body language we are able to change ours to begin to dictate or steer events towards more successful conclusions. There are few people who do not respond to changes in body language, a smile from you will usually elicit one. Managing your emotions will help to shape/ manage your body language , so always pause and regroup when you are finding it difficult to keep your emotions in check otherwise you will quickly lose rapport with another.

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.

Many of the traditional roles of Human Resources are becoming automated or ‘self-serviced ‘and as this happens many HR managers in Dubai are seeing a shift in their roles from administrative to a more strategic one. Successful companies recognise that HR professionals have a very relevant role to play in today’s knowledge economy as stewards of a business’s most important asset- their human potential. The best HR talent in the region will (if they already aren’t) be positioning themselves as talent evaluators/analysers, performance coaches and linking their departments firmly to organisational strategy. Challenges in today’s fast paced market mean that companies have to innovate and respond quickly to change in order to be sustainable. Building employee competence, to achieve organisational objectives is a mainstay of competitive advantage and HR has a primary role in championing the fulfilment of a company’s human assets.

No longer reactive to staff issues they must proactively make sure they understand the links between employee motivation and organisational performance. A key factor in employee motivation is development of talent through informal and formal training, providing opportunities for cross-training in other roles, challenging employees with new responsibilities and creating a culture of learning within the organisation. While ensuring that there is access and funding to industry specific training and soft skills, 21st century imperatives in training such as building creativity and technological skills cannot be ignored. Mentoring, coaching or team teaching are possible in-house solutions.HR is also responsible for ensuring this training is followed up with opportunities to practice and that it is quantitatively evaluated for effectiveness. Although the choice of training is aligned to company strategy, employees that can select their own developmental direction embrace the opportunity to become self-managers and are more engaged, active learners – an asset for any company.

Leadership? What is it? To help me with this question I am summarising a great report this week…so you don’t have to.

Bill Gates

Transformational leaders can cause change in individuals and social systems

Identifying the qualities that make a “great leader” and using these to appoint or promote is still a widely used approach despite the inconsistency of traits appearing across the board. Some of the traits identified consistently however include charisma, intelligence, emotional control and application to task as well as social skills and group task supportiveness. Traits like honesty and integrity are difficult to measure and later theories centred on behavioural aspects focusing on relationships and performance. McGregor’s Theory Y managers had a participative approach to leadership believing that commitment to objectives would empower a workforce to seek responsibility and be ultimately self-directing whilst the Theory X managers used an autocratic style directing and controlling passive workers who lacked self- control. The contingency model of leadership holds that there is no best way to lead and different situations will call for different styles e.g. in a routine environment the leadership may be much more directive whilst in a dynamic environment a more flexible approach is called for. The leader’s situational control is influenced by leader-member relations, task structure and the perceived amount of power the leader feels they have to direct, reward or punish. It suggests that leadership style should be directed to the area where it is most suited in a company. A relationship orientated leader would fare well for example in customer service and a task orientated leader in sales management.

Blanchard suggested that leadership styles are dependent on the developmental level of the subordinate and can be directive, coaching, supporting or delegating.Tannebaum and Schmidt’s leadership continuum recognises that leadership behaviour can vary from autocratic through persuasive and consultative to democratic. Formal organisations such an education establishments seldom are democratic and subordinates experience low participation in decision making. Again the use of the telling or autocratic style would be contingent on situation…it would be ideal in an emergency. Adair‘s action centred leadership holds that a leader has to manage three aspects: task, individual and teams. Servant leadership (e.g. religious institutions) emphasises the need to serve rather than lead, it encourages trust, collaboration, listening to followers priorities and using power in an ethical way. Leaders also have a role in following others by asking questions instead of giving answers, contributing to the work of others, helping people find collaborators so they are not the central go to person and making sure goals are common. The leaders that can chose the path of following realise that only the individual or team has the capacity to do the task and that they may not hold all the judgement or know how.

A more holistic leadership style is team leadership which builds on diversity, talent and develops colleagues… a more participative and flexible approach that lends itself to innovation and problem solving- key in today’s changing global economy. The solo leader has become an outmoded concept and leaders that interfere, dictate, seeks to mould and need admirers may not survive long or sustain a business model. Transformational leadership has the purpose of inspiring others to strive, builds momentum, seeks perspective from others and considers that all individuals have differing needs. It asks people to put aside their own needs for group/organisational/social benefit and is concerned with individual development and building respect for values.

If you want to read more, the paper I have summarised can be accessed from the reference hyperlink. Leadership is a much studied, hot subject and one that deserves meaningful thought in organisations. What’s your leadership style?


Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Maturano, A., & Dennison. (2003). A review of leadership theory and competency frameworks. Retrieved November 4th, 2011, from http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/cls/documents/mgmt_standards.pdf

Hannibal's elephants

Elephants on a raft! Hannibal is lauded as one of history's greatest military strategists

History may well show that the dotcom boom at the turn of the millennium marked a sea change in the progress of our global free enterprise economies. In the post industrial 20th century we witnessed a steady albeit linear progression in economic development. This 21st century has already demonstrated that the life cycle of products and services has shortened considerably, that disruptive technologies are displacing well entrenched business models and that the shift in economic power from west to east has moved at a pace that neither hemisphere has yet begun effectively to manage.

In brief, businesses are changing on a logarithmic scale almost beyond the wit of management to control and in these circumstances one may well ask – is there a role for strategic planning or is it now beyond our capabilities to plan for the future in such a fast changing world?

The answer has to be an emphatic one in favour of planning. It is when the future is most uncertain that a strategic plan can become the bedrock of an enterprise. Properly constructed with broad buy in from the organisation the strategic plan will offer a response to rapid changes in products and markets by providing management with a clear path to a set of agreed objectives. So whilst the enterprise may well be knocked off course by unforeseen developments management will have a greater chance of recovering when corporate goals remain clear and alternative strategies, embedded in the plan, are brought into play.

What then is the essence of a good strategic plan? There are three key components. First the organisation must have a Vision or Corporate Goal. This is the much vaunted “flag in the sand” to which all members of the enterprise can aspire. It must be clearly stated, ambitious yet realistic, with a clear timescale and it must be motivational so that all can feel a part of the grand design and pull in the same direction.

Second there must be a series of sub-objectives embracing the entire organisation including sales and marketing, finance, production and human resources. In this way planners can ensure that a balanced view is taken of the enterprise and not all effort placed solely on, for example, sales objectives and strategies at the expense of human resource considerations. Moreover by including all parts of the organisation there will be greater grass roots buy-in.

Third each objective must have a strategy for achievement which must then be translated into a series of tactical steps to be measured, monitored and controlled. It is this last step – all about execution – which is the most important. Planners have been vilified for producing impressive weighty tomes which then sit in desk drawers gathering dust until the next planning cycle. A good plan is alive. Objectives must be kept clear and their means of achievement regularly monitored by an accountable executive responsible for performance.

In summary and stripped to the essentials a good strategic plan answers the 3 most important questions any management team can ask: What – How – When. What do you want to achieve – How will you do it – When (and how) will you execute.

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

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

Special Man

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

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

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

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

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

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 ). “


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, from www.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


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?


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


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

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

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

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

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!


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?


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.

If team members were asked to confidentially evaluate their managers then rarely would the feedback be all positive but possibly more along the lines of “motivates by threatening punitive action” or “hears what they want to hear but not what I say”. In Dubai, a recognised problem is that many managers tend to do very little ‘managing’ and provide minimal direction or support for staff. They are not able to inspire better performance but do demand it. Managing is not an easy job but giving up and taking the hardened attitude of “my way or the highway” will not ultimately create a sustainable, creative, effective, cohesive and empowered team.EffectiveManagement?

As a manager you cannot rely solely on your technical skills to lead a team you also need to have good management and interpersonal communication skills. It is crucial that your team develop trust and confidence in you and you will need to invest in and update your own skill set/ expertise on a continual basis. It is as much a developmental journey for you as it for each team member you are responsible for. A high performing team will be one in which the members are ultimately self managing, where ideas are freely exchanged, leadership roles shift and peer coaching is present. In order to improve your management style you may need to work on the following areas:-

  • Effective delegation.
  • Communicating the companies’ guidelines and vision. Do staff know what the big picture is?
  • Clear communication of goals and possible strategies to achieve them.
  • Listening to feedback.
  • Analysing facts not opinion, the “what” not the “who”.
  • Managing meetings effectively.
  • Encouraging and coaching team members towards achieving their goals based on what they are doing right not through criticism of what they are doing wrong.
  • Developing the skills set of team members and setting aside enough time to do this.
  • Positively rewarding and modeling best practices.
  • Encouraging others to share their ideas in a non threatening way.
  • Motivating members to excel improve their work quality and accept responsibility.
  • Evaluating the development of yourself and team members in a positive way. Your performance management should not be superficial, restricted to generic performance appraisals .It should ideally arise from a genuine realisation of the achievements, talents, skill gaps and career aspirations of staff which have been gleaned from regular coaching and one on one discussion.
  • Cultural Intelligence.

Of course none of this comes easily; it will take time from your already busy schedule, training, practice and determination to reinforce these management behaviours but when the effective team you are working towards emerges their performance and job satisfaction will validate your management model.

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)


Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam

Negotiation is a dynamic, complex skill and one that is difficult to master. During a successful negotiation both parties whilst inherently in conflict with each other must reach a mutually beneficial agreement and be broadly satisfied with the outcome (Win-Win). Both sides should feel that a fair conclusion was reached, the agreement will be delivered as negotiated and importantly want to work with each other again. The adversarial element must be tempered if you are to reach a reasonable, successful outcome and a number of variables may have been traded. The variables (must haves, ideals, loss leaders) are at the heart of the negotiation and their importance to each party will be on a sliding scale, it is up to you to determine their priority through sound groundwork and optimize the trading. Be aware that minimizing a trade may not work in the Middle East. Indeed the first step,’ preparation ‘should have guided you towards any cultural context of discussions. If you are negotiating in an international setting your cultural intelligence, knowledge and cross-cultural skills will need to be developed. There are several stages in negotiation which need to be followed in order for it to be successful, it is a process.

Negotiation ProcessPlanning for negotiation will pave the way for smoother communication, you will be able to predict most if not all outcomes and you will have a good knowledge of all parties’ needs .Negotiation cannot be rushed , you need to first establish a rapport and be able to effectively and clearly communicate without being too jargonistic. You need to build trust with shared values, views, attitudes, experiences, and interests.

Your communication should have the right balance of empathy and yet be able to project your own ideas. Your persuasive communication skills should focus on listening more than questioning, with no perception of their position you cannot be persuasive. Make sure it is focused on helping them reach a decision; they need to explore your ideas and come to a net benefit for them. The persuasion process should mimic the stages they go through in their decision making process e.g. in exploring their concerns you should be ready to handle objections. Ultimately you need to have a commitment to act but this cannot be achieved without first exploring the stages involved in decision making. Only once agreement is reached can you move onto the final negotiation. There are many useful tactics to consider during negotiation but ultimately you should concentrate on building agreement, listening to and interpreting their language and maintain a open professional outlook that acceptably drives the negotiation to a win- win conclusion. Concessions should not be given up without extolling their benefits. Remember cost may not be the key variable you think it is after you have successfully established the true value /potential of your business partnership and ability of your product to meet their needs.

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

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

Many of us work in a challenging environment and it seems that challenge begins when we walk into the office space. If we have reached the upper echelons it may be that we have our own clearly defined workspace but the vast majority are fixed in a cubicular world which mimics early psychological experiments. It’s a wonder we don’t implode, it’s amazing we are actually productive.

Edward Hall regarded by some as the great grandfather of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coined the term “proxemics”. This describes the space in which we feel comfortable in different contexts. With a large part of our lives spent at the office having space invaders encroaching on our spatial limits can impact on our performance. With cubicle space rapidly decreasing by as much as 50% in urban areas to increase cost efficacy environmental stress can have long reaching impacts on employee health, productivity and inter-cultural relations. Overcrowding in the animal kingdom leads to aggression and territorial tension but in the office do the polychrones inadvertently wind up the monochrones by borrowing ‘personal’ items and multitasking?

Space to think concentrate or think creatively is lacking in most office environments and whilst some are able to zone out and accept differences others can obsess on them seeking quieter spaces to perform. Personalisation of spaces, creation of physical barriers or feng shui may provide some cognitive solace against the shrinkage of personal space but ultimately we may be slaves to primal evolutionary forces. Research from Caltech shows that the amygdaloid region of the brain may hold the key as to why we maintain spatial distance from people, it indicates that this region is active during romantic approaches but also influences our fear response and holds emotional memory. One subject with damage to this region had no concept of personal space.

Creation of our own ‘personal bubble’ may not translate however across inter-cultural divides. Dubai is an extremely multi-cultural work environment, in the workplace you will hear different languages and experience different smells, tastes, dress, intonations, work ethics and cultural space boundaries. The question is whether you recognise them for what they are or react with your own defences seeing intrusion as a threat.

Edward Hall wisely said : We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.

“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.

Unless 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.

In today’s market sales professionals can no longer rely on sharp presentation skills and closing techniques. The customer is much more knowledgeable about products and has access to many other buying options thanks to the internet. Consultative selling skills focus on understanding the client’s needs and offering expert value solutions after listening and building a partnership of trust. Whilst many of the techniques of traditional selling are used, the fundamental difference is the sales person must become a consultant, problem solve through common understanding and be willing to offer the best solution even if they don’t close the sale immediately. Over time consultative selling gains customer loyalty by demonstrating integrity ensuring competitive advantage through sustainable business development.
Bill Levell, Director of Courses at Institute of Sales & Marketing, Dubai, believes that the process of consultation and establishing a rapport where the relationship with the client is an advisory one is essential to modern business. The aims are to establish a procedure and standards for client qualification which provides a better idea of the client’s expectations, values and beliefs. Establishing shared visions and understanding the complexity of stakeholder interest within organisations during the pre-qualification process enables effective business consultation. Developing a practical knowledge of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) will also enhance the ability to gain support, commitment and buy-in from the stakeholders to build successful relationships.
Once the position of trusted advisor has been established it will be easier to drive projects through to agreement and completion. Since the consultant has invested in relationship building they gain broad insight into the clients business environment, critical drivers, priorities and future business initiatives and will be in a valued position to advise on these.
A consultative value driven approach with strong customer relationships may also prove to be differential during economic downturns and prove to be mutually beneficial with increased business referrals.
Is your phone ringing?

Many Dubai companies experience high employee turnover rates and cannot afford to ignore some of the basics of employee retention if they are to retain a competitive advantage. Recruitment and training of replacements is expensive and productivity from them takes time. There is also a cost issue involved with severance packages if the employee has resigned after a successful probationary period. High turnover of staff can have an impact on staff morale. Undoubtedly effective recruitment can mitigate some of the reasons your company is not retaining staff. It is easy to siphon out those who are only applying to hone their skills before moving on during interview ( if they aren’t weeded out before due to job history) by asking the right questions , but does your company continue communicating effectively with employees past a short induction course?

With a predominantly multi-cultural expatriate work force the need to effectively communicate and listen to employees becomes even more paramount. Companies that retain their employees may have the following practices:-

  • Recognition and rewarding of good performance.
  • Mentorship programmes to challenge and support employees.
  • Information sharing.
  • An understanding of change management, sharing decision making.
  • Clearly defined job roles.
  • Opportunity for professional/personal development and career progression.
  • Flexible work hours
  • An inclusive, safe, open and ethical work environment
  • Focus on good leadership and coaching attitudes.
  • Support staff with the resources they need to carry out their function.
  • Have Middle Management that provide a framework for employee success.
  • Clear knowledge of the skills, creativity and experience of staff.
  • Solicit staff feedback through focus groups, evaluation etc.
  • Conduct exit interviews to find out key reasons for employee dissatisfaction.
  • Are prepared to dismiss demotivational managers who consistently fail to motivate their teams.

Today’s employees place value on quality of life, flexibility, a challenging career and a sensible life/work balance.To avoid the hidden costs of high staff turnover companies in Dubai need to firmly address retention as part of their Strategic Planning. Philip Parker, former Chairman with TEC International, the world’s largest coaching organisation and business strategist commented:-

“It is a well worn cliché that employees are a company’s most vital asset. The force of this axiom is increasingly apparent in our knowledge driven world where enterprises are reliant on a skilled, educated workforce to sustain their competitiveness. Any Dubai company that fails to appreciate this essential asset and does not embrace a range of measures to promote the long term retention of its key people cannot expect to be effective competitors and will not be seen as employers of choice. Unless Dubai HR policies place employee retention at the top of their agenda those companies’ very ability to survive will come into question.”

Intriguing question posed by Nick Bennett in Social Media today. Dubai, never shy about new ideas is not lagging behind in its use of social media. Recent insights from Dubai School of Government reported that half of the UAE Emirati population uses Facebook and the UAE (accounting for its small size) is amongst the top ten worldwide users of Facebook. Facebook usage in the UAE stands at 2. 4 million users, 29% of the total population. Twitter penetration is not as high yet but has grown 50% in the first quarter of 2011. Active users in this same period tweeted approx. 23 million tweets. Social media usage has spiked considerably during recent and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East region. A spike was seen on twitter when President Mubarak left office on Feb 11, 2011.
Social Media marketing is definitely shaping the future in many sectors. Is your organisation connecting and listening to customers? Is your marketing strategy flexible enough to include their insights?
A good example is from Lego though it should come with a parental advisory sticker.

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…