Tag: marketing

Am I just misunderstood?

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Having worked in marketing for six years, I feel like I’ve been to every conference, breakfast briefing and information session going, and the messages are always pretty similar:

  • Content is king (massive cringe)
  • Score your leads
  • Nurture your leads
  • Automate all processes (so your role becomes defunct)
  • Read and re-read your copy until there are definitely no errors. Then read it again at least 4 more times, just to make sure.
  • Know your audience

The most recent conferences have taught me that business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) are now being overtaken by something called human to human (H2H).

But, what if that human isn’t a sarcastic Brit like me?

Well, the challenge for me has been to work out my audience and find a way to connect to them on their level. After all, the majority of the population in the UAE are migrants, originating from a wide variety of countries, none of which I have been to.

At Christmas I took an Instagram photo of what I deemed to be an appallingly decorated tree and sarcastically posted it under the heading, “beautiful, just beautiful”. You can imagine my surprise when a Dubai local commented “it is beautiful, isn’t it?”, in complete seriousness. It showed me that what I deemed hilarious, witty commentary, others, who weren’t brought up in the same culture as me, took as face value.

This is when I realised that what to me is glaringly obvious, can be interpreted differently by others; after all, we’re all different. Of course, I was aware of this before, but when you go international, addressing your audience is a whole new ball game.

It has been incredibly important from me to take note from this, because at the end of last year, I took on the UI/UX development of the NOW Money app. I had to detach from what I thought we should do and listen to what our users wanted and needed; as they’re the ones who will be using the app, not us!  So, my job has been to understand how to address these people and ensure they understand the app and want to use it (completely essential to the success of the entire company. No pressure)!

So, I went out and spoke directly to them. After every round of changes with the designer, the team and I took print-outs of the interface to shop keepers, taxi drivers, and construction workers etc, and listened to their feedback.

I discovered that words that made the most sense to me, such as “recipient” (which fitted grammatically for when they pick who to send the money to), were not widely understood. Instead the users requested that we used “receiver”. This was an absolute OCD nightmare for my colleagues and I, but who are we to stand in the way of popular demand? In order to be successful as a company, these days, you have to listen to what your customers want.

It all makes sense now! I’ve noticed a lot of marketing material in Dubai which has made me laugh and would leave the grammar police with a nervous twitch. At first I was quick to judge and think their editor was having a laugh, but now I’m not so sure. It appears that when addressing this audience you just need to ensure the message is conveyed effectively, whichever way that may be.

If spite of this, here are some of my favourite grammatical nightmares; I wonder if you’ll laugh as much as I did? Or is it just me, after all?

Photo 31-01-2017, 15 57 51

That all encompassing plate…

Photo 31-01-2017, 15 58 03

Ok, Shakespeare

Photo 31-01-2017, 15 58 14


Photo 01-02-2017, 20 19 34 (1)

Off or on?!

Photo 31-01-2017, 15 58 26

No, I still can’t get my head around this one.

It’s not goodbye, but au revoir

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“We’ll work together again,” were Katharine Budd’s parting words to me in 2011, when she left her role at the company that we were both working at.

And, sure enough, five years later, her promise has been realised.

Several months ago, Kat phoned me unexpectedly; with the offer of a job in Dubai, where she herself relocated to in 2014. Kat and her business partner, Ian, had launched a new financial technology company and needed someone to do the marketing.

Whilst I thought it was a pretty bold suggestion; to up sticks move my whole life to another country, leave my friends, resign from my current job and turn my back on my beloved London, I couldn’t help but be a tiny bit curious.

Having never even been to Dubai before, I had no idea whether it would work out, but I always trusted Kat as a boss, first and foremost, as well as a friend, and I knew that any business of hers was guaranteed to be built on solid foundations. How could I pass up this opportunity?

So, here we are, together again, just as she predicted. She’s my boss and we’re both expats in Dubai.

Three months in – although it feels far longer –  I’m starting to get my head around things. Kat persuaded me to move to Dubai with the offer of excellent career prospects and a business idea which was bound for success, but after immersing myself in the lifestyle out here it has become so much more than a job.

A week after I first arrived I made the decision to write ten things that stood out to me about this new city. I had no intention of doing this before I left, but this place could not be any more different to London and I realised I didn’t want to forget my initial thoughts after arriving here.

I thought I’d share some of these with you.

  1. It’s barely pedestrianised. No one walks anywhere, especially in the summer when a 30 second journey to the shop ends in a soaking wet t-shirt and the need for a shower.
  2. There are more ethnicities together in one place than I’ve ever known. In my second week here I was stood in the lift in IKEA and noted that the ten people in there must span at least six or seven countries.
  3. Because of the cultural diversity, the choice of food is immense. Dubai caters for every cuisine – my favourite new discovery is za’atar and cheese manakish, which is a family of Middle-Eastern herbs and cheese on a flatbread, it’s delicious!
  4. The divide between the rich and poor could not be more obvious. Seventy per cent of the population are low-income migrant workers, who have come here to make money to send back to their families. They work as taxi drivers, shop assistants and in construction. Many have qualifications from their home country, but can make more out here doing these jobs than they could back home in a job utilising their qualifications. Others haven’t had much of an education, and appear to have very low self-worth. I realised this when doing market research and one of the participants asked me, “why are you speaking to us? We’re only construction workers.”
  5. Finally, I have never known a population so willing to cater to every demand – valet is as standard and if I want a pint of milk, it’s only one call away from door-to-door delivery.

Having spent my previous six years, living a pretty sheltered life in the London suburb of Chiswick, seeing this was shocking and hit me quite hard. Dubai could not be more different from London if it tried.

However, I could not be any happier. I am working with Kat again and NOW Money is a company that is dedicated to inclusion and striving for sameness.

The company isn’t going to single-handedly solve the world’s inequality problems, but it’s taking us a step closer.

After these first three months of discovery, I know that my decision to up sticks and move to Dubai was definitely the correct one. What a time and place to be working in marketing, with such a story to tell.