Friday, February 26, 2010

The top 5 marketing mistakes of Dubai

So someone had to do it.

You know, I might actually be kicked out of Dubai for this, but on the flip side, I might even be commended.

Either way, it doesn't really matter. Everyone's thinking it, at some point someone would've said it in public. After Mishaal Al Gergawi's article which I shared in an earlier post, I think its safe to offer constructive criticism.

So here it is, the top 5 marketing mistakes I think Dubai made. Feel free to comment, and also feel free to provide your own criticism of my 5 choices. If you feel there are others, add them!

I'll be listing them one a day, just in case I think of something new to add.

Mistake #1:
Promising something and delivering something else

It all began not at the boom of the property era, not when Emaar promised to deliver the tallest tower in the world and not when Nakheel said it would create not one, but three palm shaped islands in the sea.

It began with the Dubai Shopping Festival over a decade ago.

Surprised? Not me.

I've lived in Dubai for 12 and a half years, and back in the day the DSF was the most awaited event for local residents and tourists from around the world.

Everyone wanted to win a Lexus a day, a million dollars and a another Lexus the next day!

But it didn't last. Dubai definitely is a shopping haven, but after doing it for so many years, the DSF hardly registers in anyone's mind worldwide and if it does, no one has the dispensable cash anymore to fly here and then buy here.

The Global Village has changed location 4 times. AquaFantasia (that water marvel by the Al Rostamani Group), DinoLand and the Bungee Jump are all gone and fondly remembered. People miss that.

Lesson: Make sure your idea is sustainable, then market it like hell. NOT the other way around.

Solution for Dubai: Bring back what people loved. You have an existing customer base that feels nostalgic, they WILL return. No one cares about the biggest mall. They care about how you make them feel (thank you Seth Godin).

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