Shoppers on Oxford street pass a promotional sign for 'Black Friday' sales discounts in London, on November 23, 2018. Black Friday is a sales offer originating from the US where retailers slash prices on the day after the Thanksgiving holiday. In the UK it is used as a marketing device to entice Christmas shoppers with the discounts at stores often lasting for a week. / AFP / Niklas HALLE'N
Black Friday sees brands around the world offer major discounts in late November. AFP

Marketing won’t help if your product doesn’t sell



A couple of years ago, I was approached by a client who was looking for help on the marketing front.

In the previous years they have dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertising and marketing campaigns to sell their products.

Despite all their efforts, their products weren’t selling and they were spending more than they were earning. So, they did what many would do in their case: lay off some staff and cut down on the marketing and advertising budgets. But that still didn’t help.

After analysis we came to realise that the problem wasn’t so much with their marketing efforts but with the products - and they took some deep convincing. When they launched the company they were advised by the best strategists that they should launch products x,y,z, but because these consultants were foreign to the region, the products didn’t appeal to local customers and the offering was lost in translation. What needed to be done was to change what they were offering.

Fast forward, they are doing better and don’t need to spend so much on marketing to push their products. The products are speaking for themselves.

Marketing is one of the many components of running a business and works hand in hand with the other aspects. Although it often seems like common sense to cut down on the marketing budget, especially when things get rough, you need to consider the following scenarios that could be negatively affecting your business:

Lack of customer service

This is a situation I often face with local businesses on social media. Many businesswomen are behind some beautiful creations in fashion and they don’t even need marketing to sell their products. However, when it comes to customer service, they fail terribly.

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Some only operate on WhatsApp messenger and don’t share phone numbers for their customers to contact them on. And email is out of the question because many don’t even check theirs, nevertheless respond to it.

Customer service can weaken or strengthen the relationship clients have with the brands. It could make your customers run to or from you.

Non-appealing product

Just as in my client’s case, you could be spending a great deal on marketing but that effort doesn’t convert into sales. If you find yourself in such a situation, I strongly advise you to revise your business strategy, conduct focus groups and confirm that nothing is wrong with your product. You don’t want to realise that there is after you have invested a lot of money into your marketing.

Focus on what people like and do more of that

You could have one more product that your customers just adore and the others aren’t doing so well, and this is the case with many businesses out there. Take that into consideration and focus on that product’s attributes. What traits does that product have that could be applied to the others and improve them? Or perhaps you could just focus on providing that product instead of wasting your resources what won’t sell.

This is not say that marketing is not blame. In some cases, the products are fine but the marketing isn’t and that could be attributed to either hiring the wrong marketing professional or agency, which is a mistake that many businesses make.

And this is why I strongly advise clients to take their time when they are hiring a marketing agency. Do not simply just sign an agreement with the first company you meet. At the same time you need to make sure that the one you do sign understands your culture, your product and will be able to communicate your offering effectively.

If you are appealing to a very specific local target audience then perhaps it’s best to go with a very local specific agency or a professional who knows their market best. Some of the best local marketing professionals are freelancers and don’t work with big agencies.

Whatever is causing your poor business performance, don’t instantly slash the marketing budget. Take your time to analyse all aspects of your business structure and act accordingly.

You may even find that more than one aspect of your business needs addressing.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications firm in Abu Dhabi.

SPECS

Engine: 6-cylinder 3-litre, with petrol and diesel variants
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 286hp (petrol), 249hp (diesel)
Torque: 450Nm (petrol), 550Nm (diesel)
Price: Starting at $69,800
On sale: Now

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

The specs: 2019 Infiniti QX50

Price, base: Dh138,000 (estimate)
Engine: 2.0L, turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Power: 268hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 4,400rpm
Fuel economy: 6.7L / 100km (estimate)

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl

Power: 153hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 200Nm at 4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Price: Dh99,000

On sale: now

MATCH INFO

Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham Hotspur, midnight (Thursday), UAE

Essentials

The flights
Emirates, Etihad and Malaysia Airlines all fly direct from the UAE to Kuala Lumpur and on to Penang from about Dh2,300 return, including taxes. 
 

Where to stay
In Kuala Lumpur, Element is a recently opened, futuristic hotel high up in a Norman Foster-designed skyscraper. Rooms cost from Dh400 per night, including taxes. Hotel Stripes, also in KL, is a great value design hotel, with an infinity rooftop pool. Rooms cost from Dh310, including taxes. 


In Penang, Ren i Tang is a boutique b&b in what was once an ancient Chinese Medicine Hall in the centre of Little India. Rooms cost from Dh220, including taxes.
23 Love Lane in Penang is a luxury boutique heritage hotel in a converted mansion, with private tropical gardens. Rooms cost from Dh400, including taxes. 
In Langkawi, Temple Tree is a unique architectural villa hotel consisting of antique houses from all across Malaysia. Rooms cost from Dh350, including taxes.

Company profile

Name: Yabi by Souqalmal 

Started: May 2022, launched June 2023

Founder: Ambareen Musa

Based: Dubai 

Sector: FinTech 

Initial investment: undisclosed but soon to be announced 

Number of staff: 12 

Investment stage: seed  

Investors: Shuaa Capital

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”

The specs

Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8

Transmission: Eight-speed auto

Power: 575bhp

Torque: 700Nm

Price: Dh554,000

On sale: now

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylturbo

Transmission: seven-speed DSG automatic

Power: 242bhp

Torque: 370Nm

Price: Dh136,814

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre V8

Power: 503hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 685Nm at 2,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Price: from Dh850,000

On sale: now

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

TO ALL THE BOYS: ALWAYS AND FOREVER

Directed by: Michael Fimognari

Starring: Lana Condor and Noah Centineo

Two stars

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

If you go…

Emirates launched a new daily service to Mexico City this week, flying via Barcelona from Dh3,995.

Emirati citizens are among 67 nationalities who do not require a visa to Mexico. Entry is granted on arrival for stays of up to 180 days. 

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Date started: 2020
Founders: Khaldoon Bushnaq and Tariq Seksek
Based: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Sector: HealthTech
Number of staff: 100
Funding to date: $15 million

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Fiona Sampson
Profile

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Graduated from the American University of Sharjah

She is the eldest of three brothers and two sisters

Has helped solve 15 cases of electric shocks

Enjoys travelling, reading and horse riding

 

Maestro

Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now

Score

New Zealand 266 for 9 in 50 overs
Pakistan 219 all out in 47.2 overs 

New Zealand win by 47 runs

New Zealand lead three-match ODI series 1-0

Next match: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Friday

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 410hp
Torque: 495Nm
Price: starts from Dh495,000 (Dh610,000 for the F-Sport launch edition tested)
On sale: now

The Gentlemen

Director: Guy Ritchie

Stars: Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant 

Three out of five stars

Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

Getting there and where to stay

Fly with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK. There's 11 flights a week and economy fares start at around Dh5,000.
Stay at The Mark Hotel on the city’s Upper East Side. Overnight stays start from $1395 per night.
Visit NYC Go, the official destination resource for New York City for all the latest events, activites and openings.

Schedule for Asia Cup

Sept 15: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka (Dubai)

Sept 16: Pakistan v Qualifier (Dubai)

Sept 17: Sri Lanka v Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 18: India v Qualifier (Dubai)

Sept 19: India v Pakistan (Dubai)

Sept 20: Bangladesh v Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi) Super Four

Sept 21: Group A Winner v Group B Runner-up (Dubai) 

Sept 21: Group B Winner v Group A Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 23: Group A Winner v Group A Runner-up (Dubai)

Sept 23: Group B Winner v Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 25: Group A Winner v Group B Winner (Dubai)

Sept 26: Group A Runner-up v Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 28: Final (Dubai)

The specs: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Price, base / as tested: Dh101,140 / Dh113,800


Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder


Power: 148hp @ 5,500rpm


Torque: 250Nm @ 2,000rpm


Transmission: Eight-speed CVT


Fuel consumption, combined: 7.0L / 100km

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Engine: 3.5-litre V6

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 290hp

Torque: 340Nm

Price: Dh155,800

On sale: now


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