Digital Marketing and promoting your business – Top 5 Tips from Wayne Denner

You have researched, invested time, energy and money into creating content for your audience but you’ve noticed a big issue. This content which you have created – is failing to make an impact and engage your audience. It’s just not happening. What could possibly have gone wrong?.

Well before we delve into looking at where it might have gone wrong, let’s take a look at what content marketing actually is – then try to get on track.

According to The Content Marketing Institute ‘Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’

The key message for content here is ‘valuable, relevant and consistent’ – without these 3 key ingredients in your mix, – your content is going to struggle to get the attention and engagement it needs.

Times Square

Don’t be drowned out by the noise!

We live in a world bombarded with advertising messages. Dubai and the UAE is no different to the rest of the world. Just pause for a moment and think of all the different marketing messages you have received today. How many of them were valuable, relevant and consistent? And more importantly did you purchase as a result?.

Just as with offline marketing i.e. TV, Radio and Print we are competing for eyes and ears. Digital is no different. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat we need to first ensure our content is valuable, relevant and consistent.

But stop a minute and ask yourself a question. Are you and the other businesses in your sector knocking out the same stuff? Is there any real difference, from your customers point of view in terms of the marketing messages?

What tends to happen is a trend of pretty similar content. Our competitor is doing it, therefore it must work? It wont. You need to take it beyond this and create content which is compelling and different. Go all out and inject stories into your content that will take it up a whole new level. Fascinate, pique your audiences curiosity, mix things up. Then you can really start to maximise your organic reach and perform better than before. By taking on board the tips below to promote your digital content you should start to see a shift for the better.

Now when it comes to promoting content most people automatically think ‘fire it up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and that should do the trick’. Unfortunately not. While these platforms do help you cannot just rely on them to do all the work – at least not without paying for exposure. Even with that, if your content is poor and does not include the mix above you’ll burn through your budget – with little to show from the effort.

# 1 Video will be massive in 2016

Yes massive. In fact, according to Cisco, video is predicted to account for 80% of global Internet traffic by 2019. Video streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat allow you to stream content directly to your followers on Twitter and beyond – all you need is the app downloaded to your Smartphone device and you are good to go. Facebook Live is also coming soon. This will allow you to stream live video to your Facebook page. Live video streaming allows you to add another dimension to your content, you can find many examples of how your business can utilise video streaming, eg behind the scenes footage, product reviews and Q&A’s, all streamed in real time.

# 2 Trending Topics

Pay attention to trending topics around your business or brands sector – this is a great way to push your content out on the back of topics which are trending (be careful not to spam). If there’s a link (however tenuous) between your offerings and something which is trending, make sure you jump on it. This is a smart way to get your content in front of large audiences of users following these topics.

# 3 Twitter Chats

There are now countless dedicated Twitter chats, many of which take place on a regular basis. Find out which Twitter chat hashtags are relevant to your business and set these up on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to monitor. If you come across a chat, which is especially relevant to your business or brands, why not get involved and actively contribute? This is one proven way to be authentic and build trust. Remember though to keep the sales tweets to a minimum – and focus on adding value.

# 4 Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging can provide an excellent way for you to indirectly promote your content. One of the massive benefits of guest blogging is that it can give you business-targeted exposure, if you are able to seek out the established blogs in your niche. They do exist – you just need to find them. The other plus with this approach is that it increases your credibility and therefore potential traffic to your website. In turn, this equals more eyeballs viewing the content which you’ve created. Whilst it’s hard work and can be very labour intensive you’ll reap the rewards.

# 5 Build Trust and Credibility

Business and Brands need to earn attention. You can’t just keep buying it.

So, if you want to stand out from the crowd remember your content needs to be valuable, relevant and consistent. With a big sprinkle of compelling and different to succeed.

Are you a Business in Dubai or the UAE who wants to learn how to create better content and promote it? Here’s how – sign up for the next ISM Dubai Digital Marketing Program.

You may feel that you’re too busy arranging meetings at the next conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre, to worry about what those people feel about your company’s brand. If you don’t know what they think, it’s time to take stock and make changes, because great brand identity will increase sales.

Just think about your favourite lunch spot. Why do you go there? Is it the friendly staff, the great range of food, your favourite food cooked well, or is it the price, or the fact you always meet your friends there? There will be a myriad of reasons, but they all add up to a brand identity that pulls you back time and again.

When it comes to marketing your company, whether you’re in the engineering business, or selling premium watches, you need to find what makes your brand great, and what lets your brand down.


How do your customers feel about your image? Does your logo make them feel warm, secure, happy even? Or does it leave them cold, or worse, with a raft of negative feelings?

If you don’t know it’s time to find out. Big brands work hard to ensure that when people see their logo it gives them very positive feelings. You should be working on that for your own company.

Take a good look at your company logo. Is it an old established name? If so you can work on that to offer the security of being experienced. If you’re a start-up you’ll have to work harder on the logo to get the right mix of font and colours to help people easily identify you, and make you stand out from companies selling similar products or services.


How strongly do people identify with your brand? If you sell watches, do your customers automatically think of you when looking for a new watch? If not, why not? Be honest with yourself and ask your staff for feedback. Do they have customers who always come back and others that never return? Do you know the reasons behind this? Is it a particular member of staff who makes customers feel good? If so, look at ways of teaching other members of staff to replicate their behaviour.

In a business environment are you the ‘go to’ service? Is your delivery, pricing and customer support so good people feel secure and happier with you than some of your cheaper rivals?

Do you actually recognise yourself as a brand? If you don’t, then it may be that your customers don’t either. You could be just another service provider, easily replaced with a slicker company. Work on what your brand should mean to the customer, from that starting point you can begin implementing changes to create a meaningful brand.

Be socially active

Not just on social media, although that is really important, but just generally. Do your employees take part in local events to raise awareness, or money, for specific causes? Do you support their efforts with branded clothing? Do you support a local sports club?

Being seen in the community is an important aspect of brand identity. If your logo is seen supporting local people, you are reinforcing your commitment to being more than just a faceless corporate business.

On the corporate level, do you support conferences by handing out free coffee (under your branded signage, of course)? Or sponsor talks? Do you have one of your experts talking on local radio or writing knowledge articles in local papers? All of this adds up to re-enforcing your brand across a wide variety of areas.




sensory branding

What’s good for Heston’s diners is worth a second glance….

We’re all used to the concept of visual branding; getting the logo, company colours and font to connect with the customer, creating a cohesive style for stores and offices. But for some time now, this is being enhanced, and in some ways superseded by sensory branding.

Consider walking into any branch of Hollister. The stores have a very strong identity whether you’re shopping in Dubai or Glasgow – the same beach hut exterior, dim lighting, evocative scent, music and, of course, the same Californian inspired clothing.

Enveloping the senses in this way evokes a feeling, a sense of belonging, which Hollister customers enjoy and return time and again for. Of course, the experience is not to everyone’s taste – and that’s equally important. Hollister customers are teenagers and young adults who are economically able to enjoy the brand’s image.

Anyone outside that niche probably finds the store’s signature scent overpowering, the dim lighting irritating, and might question the price and individuality of the clothes themselves. But they aren’t the target market. Similarly, the hushed tones, subtle music and delicate scents used by upmarket hotel chains are probably an anathema to the majority of young people, but they aren’t the hotel’s target market. Their target group are business people and prosperous holidaymakers.

This maturation of sensory marketing has sped up over the last decade. A car manufacturer has worked on creating a certain sound when a door shuts. This sound has been developed to become synonymous with quality in the ears of its customers.

Retail units of global brands are carefully planned to place both auditory and aroma points to encourage purchases of certain items, usually items with a higher price tag. And at the very edge of technology there are very personalised sensory marketing techniques being trailed in the world’s bigger cities. Cameras can capture images of people walking towards a store and that data can be fed back to a computer. Images and sounds are selected to appeal to the customer profiled, and as they walk past the store their senses are engaged in the hope they’ll walk in and make a purchase.

Online things are getting just as interesting. Recently a marketing company encouraged visitors to a web site to take a sip of any brand of whisky while visiting different coloured ‘rooms’ on their site (where the promoted whisky brand was being prominently displayed at all times), and giving feedback on their experience. This helped the branding company see how colours and textures impacted on the visitor’s enjoyment of whisky generally, while the repeating of the name of the branded whiskey probably led to many visitors going out and trying it in real life.

All this is expensive, but it doesn’t mean the smaller business can’t harness some of the big company’s sensory marketing tricks. Again, it’s down to research. Find out how it’s being done by the bigger companies, and replicate it to your own budget. Sensory marketing is proven to work around the world; it taps into deep parts of the human brain, working on an almost subliminal level. Done well, a little Dubai company can use sensory marketing as effectively as the global brands.



Despite what many believe, a website is more than just a brochure site for you business. It’s the first thing people will look at when finding out more about your business. So whether you’re a swanky Deira restaurant or are just setting up shop in the Dubai Mall, avoid the following to boost your online presence.

Poor design



Crazy colours on your website can be a huge turn off...

There are few things more likely to put off customers than a badly designed website. Remember the old sales adage “dress like you’re going to meet your ideal customer”? Well the same goes for your website. Glaring colour schemes and images that are the wrong size for the space are akin to wearing a tatty suit and ultra loud tie. Find a website design agency you can work with, and meets your budget criteria, and give your site a thorough overhaul.

Broken Links

Even if your design is passable, just one broken link will put visitors off. Go through your site and make sure every single link on the site works. You may not have the time to do this yourself, but do ensure the person given the task is up to the job.

Terrible navigation

There are two standard ways to help visitors navigate through your website – and only one that really works. Some people still use a side navigation bar, but the way forward is quick links at the top of the page to the most important pages on your site.

The most important links are your home page button, the products or services button, and the contact page button. Secondary to this are the About Us page, offers (if that is something key to business), and support/help button (if you are the type of business whose customers are support orientated).

The modern way to place the rest of your navigation buttons is at the bottom of the page. This is called the footer and, as long as it’s well laid out, can contain a huge number of links to other parts of the website.

For a generation of people who’ve grown up with the web, great navigation is essential.

Media that makes you cringe

You’ll see a lot of video on homepages these days. The reason it that is people take in visual information more quickly than words. However, if you’re video doesn’t load properly, is in the wrong language, is badly produced and sounds tinny, the result will drive people away.

If you are going to have video on your homepage make it good. One problem some companies have is their market is multi-lingual. The way around this issue is to make two videos, one in the first language of your market, and the other in the second language. Not only does this get the message across to everyone you want it to, it also shows potential customers you care enough about them to make the effort.

Dreadful content

Only an amazing website will overcome the problem of dreadful content. Content ranges from the main pages on your website, your blog, your product descriptions and your service explanations. Take the time to write carefully, or employ a copywriter who’ll help you put across your message in the right way to attract customers.

Social Media fails

Content can also mean the social media you have on your site. Some businesses have their Twitter feed on their homepage. This is a great way of interacting with customers, but only if you are committed to updating your Twitter account regularly. A rolling feed from a year ago won’t inspire confidence.

The same goes for your blog. If you have one, you need to keep it up-to-date. A blog is a great place to tell customers what you’ve been doing, upload pictures and videos from events, and can show your industry knowledge.


Your website is an incredible sales tool. Make it the best it can be to attract customers and win more business.


At its best Guerrilla marketing is a low-cost way of boosting your company profile, as well as profits. At its worst, you efforts could fall flat, or even damage your company’s reputation.

So how do you avoid the latter? Guerrilla marketing has been around since the term was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book, Guerrilla Marketing. Essentially it is an advertising strategy using unusual techniques to create a buzz around a product or company, without blowing the budget.

However, in recent times, big budget is often what is needed as large corporations and charities use it to get their message across. A recent example got LG international coverage for their television screens. Placing screens inside an elevator, when people got in the screens showed the floor falling away – scaring the elevator passengers, and getting LG the kind of viral coverage unheard of through traditional marketing.

On the face of it, this was a relatively small layout for the company considering how much attention they received from the world’s press outlets. But for small businesses this kind of financial layout isn’t possible.

It needn’t be that way. For small businesses, especially those who know the audience they want to target, guerrilla marketing can be also be effective, you just have to be more imaginative.

guerilla marketing

Even better when the cavities get exposed !

For example, a dental firm wrapped paper gums and tearaway teeth around telegraph poles. Passers-by could tear off the teeth to get the dentists details. It was fun, creative, and easy for people to interact with.

Another simple example of guerrilla marketing is to have a series of arrows, feet chalked onto the pavement, leading people to your shop front, or office. This is where you have to be careful though. There has to be a pay-off for the inquisitive person following your trail… a give-away or some money off your promotion line. Don’t leave people hanging or you’ll do more harm than good.

The trick to good guerrilla marketing is to leave people smiling, or to provoke a positive reaction. Toothpaste manufacturer Colgate used wooden stick inside an ice cream in a way that surprised and gently reminded people to clean their teeth. As the ice cream was eaten the hidden part of the stick was revealed to be a wooden toothbrush. Along the side were the words ‘don’t forget’. Simple, yet brilliant.

It’s all about surprising people. Taking an ordinary situation and turning into something that makes people stop and take notice. Wherever you find lots of people gathering is the best place to start. Yet even the traditional marketing tool, the carrier bag, can be turned on its head.

Guerrilla Marketing is an established tool, so get creative, look around the net for inspiration, and make the most of your marketing budget.


When budgets are tight it’s hard to see how to spend those valuable marketing dirhams wisely. But effective marketing is possible; you just have to be smart in your planning.

Discover your USP

If you don’t know what differentiates your product or service from the next guy, then how do you expect your customers to?

You have to have a Unique Selling Point. Something that makes you different, a way of doing business that makes you stand out from your competitors. Identify your USP – then use it in your marketing. Push it to the front of people’s minds; get people to understand why your company’s way of doing business is worth buying into.

Research the market

A small marketing budget means spending time researching the best place to spend you money. A scattergun approach will yield poor results and you’ll have no concrete method of measuring those results.

Even the international corporations use marketing analytics to better understand their marketplace. Knowing how to market a product effectively is worth the time spent researching.

For example, if you are selling a new type of dumbbell that is slightly more expensive than average weight equipment, you need to know which location is going to be more receptive to the higher price. Get out and have a look around, go online and check the prices there. You’ll quickly build up a profile of which streets, cities and online areas are best for your premium product.

Understand your customer

If you don’t have a clue what your customer wants, how can you sell them your product. Or rather, do you firmly believe that your product or service is so ground-breaking that people will instantly see the benefit of it?

If you can’t think like your customer, get out there and ask them. Not all, just some, the ones you want to buy from you would be a good start.

Tell a great story

In marketing it’s all about the story. Tell a great story and people are more likely to buy your product. Even cheap products need a little bit of a story, even if it’s about why cheap is good. A premium product needs a really good story: where the ingredients have been sourced, how long it takes to mature, how much more effective it is for smoothing wrinkles, etc.

harley davidson

"Live to ride", create a culture around your product.

Get the story right and you’re half way there.

Invest in good design

People react consciously and unconsciously to the design of a product, website, point of sale merchandising. You may not be able to afford a good designer on your payroll, but it’s worth investing in a good freelance to get your new product or service off the ground.

Choose your staff carefully

When you are marketing on a tight budget you need to hire well. Think about what attributes you really need to make your marketing team smarter and more adaptive. Do you need someone who is great at analytics, SEO, copywriting, strategy, or all four?

The majority of businesses have a handful of really great customers. They’re the people who order regularly, pay on time and come back time and again. But are you being complacent? Do your best customers get the best treatment from your Dubai sales team? Or have you forgotten the basic rules for retaining customers?

Customer retention is one area of sales that is often overlooked in the rush to find new customers. New customers equal growth, right? Well not always. Treat your older customers well and your business will be healthier for it.

Some basic lessons in customer retention are:

Involve your customers

The more ambitious your new project, product, or service, the more testing you are going to have to do. Which is why it’s a good idea to select a small number of your older, more trusted customers and rope them into some beta testing.

This is a great way to show them how much you value their input into developing new stuff. You can invite them in at the early planning stages, or if that seems too soon, wait until when you feel you have something that’s ready to be tested in the environment you want to sell it in.

In the business to consumer market this is a well-established way of testing how a product is going to be received by the public. In the business-to-business community this type of feedback is invaluable – you will learn a lot about how your new product is going to be used in the real world.

Over-deliver on your promises

Customers who order from you without needing a call, or come in frequently to buy your products might not seem like they need much attention – but they are often the ones who need it most.

You’ve sold your product or services to them but do you know how they perceive that sale? Do they stay with you because it’s easier than going elsewhere? Very often this is the case. They’ve made an investment in you and don’t want the hassle of changing.

However, they could change and often do so out of the blue. The best way to retain a customer is to over deliver on their expectations. Go that extra mile for them. Find out how they are using your product or service and see if you can improve on how they use it. Maybe do an audit – are they paying more than a new customer? Is there an added benefit they’re not receiving because it came in after they became a customer?

If a customer feels like you are looking out for their best interests, they’re more likely to stick with you than go to a competitor.

Customer retention incentives for sales teams

Make customer retention part of your monthly sales team meetings. Don’t just give your team a bonus for new business: give them a bonus for retaining long standing customers.

Give your team the tools to identify who are the long term customers, what value they bring to the company and what you can do the help them stay as customers.

With the right thought processes in place and a good customer retention strategy, your company can grow more effectively and you wont see that dreaded marker of a high turn over of customers.

ISM 2005

A group from way back in 2005 attending Coaching with Philip Parker

ISM have delivered corporate training in Sales, Marketing and Leadership in Dubai and the Gulf region for 15 years. We are proud that customers keep coming back to us but never take them for granted . Returning clients are highly valued and we reward them accordingly.The record so far by a single client stands at 11 public courses attended, a marvelous testament to our UK trainers,course standards and client confidence!

Overwhelmingly, the biggest marketing trend in 2013 will be the increased use of mobile phones, with technology in general, coming a close second.

Already we are seeing how smart phones are changing the way in which people are using the internet. You are more likely to find a young person watching YouTube on their phones, than on their computers – that is if they even have a pc! It’s more likely to be a tablet nowadays.

So my marketing predictions for 2013 are:

Mobile payments

Mastercard, Visa, and the major banks have come together with mobile phone manufacturers to develop phones that can be used to pay at the checkout. This very cool piece of tech means you just swipe the phone over the terminal in the shop and the amount is deducted from a predetermined credit card. There is also the ability to have a pre-set limit. A pretty important step forward for parents wanting to give their teenage children control over their finances – while importantly keeping it limited to prevent spending spiralling out of control.

Mobile payment on public transport

It will become commonplace across Dubai to see people using their mobile phones to pay for their journeys on public transport. This was announced by the roads and Transport Authority (RTA) last October. Replacing the Nol card, but not the Nol system, users will be able to top up their Nol accounts electronically and view their balances on their phones.

Mobile marketing

With more and more people accessing the internet through their mobiles, the mobile ad market share will increase. Recent research suggests that mobile phone ads are noticed by over half of people using a smart phone to look at a website. This certainly gives advertisers food for thought.

Responsive design

The rise of mobile Internet has meant website developers have had to be far cleverer in how they design sites. There is still a bit of confusion in how to move forward. Does the customer want an app, a mobile site and a desktop site designing? Responsive design is going some way to answer this. It is a type of web design that allows one design process to be in charge of how the desktop and mobile site will look. How well it will cope with large ecommerce sites will be interesting to see.

Customers as the audience

There is no denying that search engine optimisation has its place. However, the days of leaning completely on SEO to bring in customers are numbered. The big companies are already well on their way to creating more in-depth, useful and entertaining content for their sites. This is about seeing people not as potential customers, but as an audience, eager to come to the site again and again to view the next chapter of the story, win competitions and play new games. It’s an expensive route to take and smaller businesses have their work cut out finding a way to compete on this level.

Technology you wear

Yes I know, this one shows up from time to time, but hasn’t yet filtered down to the street. Wearable technology will be making a dent in the general consciousness. Now some celebs are already wearing clothes with LEDs displaying their twitter feed and Facebook status. However as these become more well known, designers will hopefully see the opportunity to do something really interesting with the clothes.

What do you think will be the top trends in marketing for 2013 in Dubai?


Look after your brand advocates ...they are magical creatures.

Do you have customers who really love your product or services? Do they blog about the latest product launch at the Dubai Mall? Well if you do, congratulations… you have yourself a bone fide brand advocate.

If you’ve not heard about brand advocates before, they are the customers who love your brand so much they tell other people about it. In the past this was someone who told their neighbour and their friends and family how great your brand was. In the age of the internet, they are more likely to be spreading the love through blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

You may not think that your line of business lends itself to the notion of a brand advocate. And although an accountancy firm will not get many pins on Pinterest, they may get some excellent feedback on the LinkedIn forums.

You may not even be aware you have someone out there telling everyone how great you are. Which is why it’s important for you have someone in your office (or outsource if it’s easier) who can watch your social media profile and identify the brand advocates out there.

Once you’ve found some people who are saying nice things about you, don’t go diving in and asking them around for dinner. Stop and consider who they are, what they are saying, and whom they are saying it to. It may not be necessary to contact them immediately, but it would be nice if they’ve mentioned you on Twitter to thank them for the mention.

If you don’t find any, don’t worry. There are ways of building an environment that help people who love your company’s products or services become brand advocates. And the best thing about having an advocate is it can become a genuinely nice relationship. It can be rewarding for both your company and the advocate themselves.

One fledgling UK make-up manufacturer created a great reward system to build advocates online. They asked their Twitter followers and Facebook fans to post pictures and videos of themselves using the make-up, and then retweeted or shared the picture on Twitter and Facebook. This type of reciprocation is valuable in social media, giving people the opportunity to interact with like-minded people.

At the launch of their products in stores, they promoted it through social media and offered a free sample bag to a certain number of people who were the first to arrive. People then tweeted about receiving the bag and posted pictures online.

You can’t always contain your brand advocates, and you need to be aware of the distinction between an advocate and someone who is trying to make money off the back of your brand. There are many examples of fans trying to sell products that are a little too close to the brand for comfort. A famous example of this was when a Harry Potter fan tried to publish the Harry Potter lexicon. It was the subject of a lawsuit, but did eventually get published, but in a shorter form than the original.

Every business is different, and you should consider carefully how best to build up a brand following. What works for a make-up manufacturer, may not work so well for the accountancy firm. But the main consideration is how you want your brand to be perceived, and promoted, and how to turn a person who simply loves your product into a brand advocate for that product.