Market View

The Arabic Business Opportunity - Part Two

2011/12/23 Friday
Nick Leighton, NettResults
Lessons from experience

dubai Here are a few tactics we’ve learned along the way that we like to impart to multinational brands and companies to achieve successful communications in the Middle East and Africa region: On a busy day in Dubai, this may feel like capitalism, but it’s not a democracy. Understand the Government’s policies and point of view about your industry sector and relevant issues, at both national and regional levels. Then tailor your messaging to show your support for and contribution to national development.

Behave like a diplomat, not a salesperson. Position your business activities as responding to the initiatives and policies of the region at the highest level, helping to build up and stimulate Middle East industry and development. Help grow the region and the region will hope your growth.

Make your Arabic team members, customers and partners the heroes. Loosing case studies from the rest of the word will not work ? find local case studies and make heroes of them. This is a proud race of people and they don’t like companies coming in, make money and then disappear on them. Offer local support and customer service to win the hearts of the region.

There are many groups of people (staff, partners, channel, suppliers, customers and the public) that are made of three broad ethnic backgrounds. Avoid any at your own peril. Your staff and channel partners has to include all three if you intend to market to all three.

Well conceived and implemented Corporate Social Responsibility programs across the region can help multinationals embellish their perception while cultivating good faith with local government officials and consumers. Increasing government and social attention to environmental protection issues offers opportunities for MNCs to demonstrate their goodwill and supportive positions.

Focus on the differences. While Middle East consumers want quality, reliability and low prices similar to their counterparts worldwide, there are tremendous differences in nuances and expectations of companies and brands. Ignore these at your peril.

Be seen in the news. Commercial priorities are driving competition and changing the style of news reporting. There are an increasing number of media and outlets to choose from, so to have a coherent message that the target is receiving, choose your media targets wisely. In an increasingly commercialised business environment, a strong media presence conveys a sense of leadership and wider presence.

Localize deeply: Yes, you will certainly need local language websites and collaterals (some of our clients market in up to seven languages in this market), but smart foreign companies take a long look at business practices, processes and models too, and adapt to local culture and tastes where it makes business sense.