Sunday, February 28, 2010

The top 5 marketing mistakes of Dubai #2: One way communication

The dawn of social media has made one thing very clear:

Communicating with your consumers is a two-way street.

Thing is, it wasn't social media which invented this. Social media simply highlighted it to such an extent that it is now an entire sub-industry in marketing.

No. The two-way street rule of thumb has been around for ages, and it was known by many names: CRM, service quality, customer feedback, etc. Brands that thrived with making sure this worked for them included Adobe (who listened and communicated actively with their core audience: creators themselves); Fox News (love 'em or hate 'em, they have a strong core audience base); Christian Science Monitor, Wikipedia and others.

And this is where Dubai failed. It has always been a one-way street. Dubai Inc.'s 'Board of Directors' would say something, and would be convinced that this is what the populace wanted. There has never been any way to give feedback except by 'lip service' links on government portals that used catch phrases like 'we want to hear from you'.

Yeah right.

Dubai almost made it happen with the Metro. Brilliant work delivering everything on 9/9/9. Wait...'everything'?

While promising that word, they instead released a 30% completed network, have delayed phase 2 by a year and a half, and are still struggling.

How is this a reflection of communication? The biggest consumer base for the metro was and still is Dubai's mainstream population of over 2 million. For 2 years, they waited believing Dubai is finally delivering the goods. And then this. Now Dubai has 2 million or so consumers who never cease sharing the negativity with their families and friends worldwide which could have easily been avoided.

Dubai doesnt' need bad press more than it has, but it just isn't learning.

Lesson: Put your mouth where your money is, and your money is in your consumers' pockets. Speak WITH them, don't talk TO them.

Solution for Dubai: Finish the metro quicker. And then brag about finishing the metro quicker. Highlight what you HAVE completed and make a big deal about it to your residents. They will then do the talking for you.

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