Columnists Features

How to market a nation effectively (Part II)


TO DATE many people from far-flung countries thought Dubai to be the capital of UAE!
From about 1996, within eight years it built up the city with all modern civic attractions, facilitating investors across the globe.
Nevertheless, it is a perfect example of how a city could be marketed with the right ingredients in action and a strategised marketing plan.
Its real estate projects were sold like in share markets – an unprecedented phenomenon never seen anywhere in the world.
Licensing processes have been simplified so much that the convenience of opening a business became as easy as one could only imagine.
Numerous free zone centres have been laid out with composite facilities within where investors just got pulled in.
Dubai became the unchallenged role model in the gulf peninsula which made others in the region follow suit, like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar et all — when they took this marketing route to their positioning and success. Even their airline Emirates has been marketed so well that people feel it is the UAE’s flag carrier, which factually is not.
The way the world’s largest unmanned metro system has been unveiled with a strictly followed time line in project completion, added to the build-up of the desired image for the city. Until the great global recession in the last quarter of 2008, which hit Dubai with a severe blow with most of its real estate markets crashing, the city had an unimaginable growth and perhaps was the only city in the world which could attract such levels of foreign investments in a very short period of time.
UAE having a local population between 17 to 25 percent with over 60 percent being from the Asian subcontinent, an achievement like this, engineered through well strategised marketing and positioning plan supported by the visionary rulers is un-paralleled in the history of the modern marketing era. Currently, Dubai is trying to regain its enviable position as a sought-after destination, by regrouping its marketing activities while fighting the negative facts with a bold positive PR outlook. They are not shying away from the hard facts, rather they are addressing them upfront by using communication experts at work, taking a 360 degree approach in utilising all possible tools in marketing communication. That’s the way to go!
Brand ambassador or spokesperson
While embarking on this notion of marketing the nation, it calls for spokespersons who would take the brand message forward. The appointed leaders apart, it becomes almost a unique public duty to throw out the good word. When the leaders follow a strategic plan in communication while, of course, actually getting things done at ground level, a general positive environment is formed where everyone feels proud to be part of this nation. Communication, hand in hand with achievements, is the key to creating such an environment. Once that is done the citizens and residents alike feel like talking about those positives and unconsciously become brand representatives through the “word of mouth” that is generated. It might be sceptical  for some, but marketing grammar tells us it is quite possible, provided there is a “will” to go for it.
Need of the hour: Time does not have an alarm bell, it waits for no one — in marketing particularly. The decision-makers at the helm of affairs should brainstorm, debate and come to a conclusion on a decisive marketing plan to market this nation with so many good vibes around it, in spite of the proverbial dollar fluctuation!
The author is a marketing professional currently based in Lusaka, and can be contacted at

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