As part of a larger article in the Qatar Construction Review on why Qatar might be the destination of choice for global contractors, Amanda gives some helpful PR and marketing advice to contractors seeking to work in Qatar.
QCR: Your Company has extensive Middle East experience. For international contractors seeking work in Qatar, what would you say were the top 3 most important things to get right from the beginning in terms of PR & Marketing?
a) Research! Be clear about what it is you have to offer and how this relates to the needs of the local market.
b) Relationship building and developing an understanding of the local marketplace, together with empathy for the local etiquette and business culture, is fundamental to success. In the Middle East business is built on mutual friendship and trust, and the best way to communicate is face to face.
c) Build a network of key contacts who will introduce, recommend, advise and support you. These contacts might be international consultants working in Qatar or local companies. Don’t underestimate the value of local partnerships, whether formal or informal.
QCR: In the instances where a firm of architects or engineers for example, need to raise their profile overseas, what sort of things should they avoid?
AR: Complacency. You should not assume that because you are a well-known name in your home market you will receive the same respect overseas without having to work for it.
Short-sightedness. Avoid sending messages that are culturally inappropriate or that do not reflect the needs or interest of the target market.
Impatience. It takes time, consistency and determination to build a reputation.
QCR: Many international contractors thinking of working in Qatar initially visit the Project Qatar exhibition. Does gaining an overview of the buyer and seller market like this fall under a PR & marketing strategy? And if so, what sort of things should they be doing before, after and during the exhibition?
AR: Yes, very much so. One of the first things that we recommend to consultants seeking work overseas is to visit local trade shows and get a feel for the marketplace.
- Contacts make a big difference to the success of a visit. Look at the delegate list and contact everyone you know. Ask for their advice – people will appreciate being asked – and arrange to meet up.
- Spend time researching the delegates that you want to reach, and have something of interest to bring to them – not just the service you offer but an opportunity of some sort.
- Ensure that your marketing literature is culturally and market-place appropriate, i.e. that it presents the messages in the right way for the locality and reflects what the market wants to hear. Make sure any hand-outs can be tucked into a top pocket.
- Seek a position as a speaker at the exhibition but if this is not possible attend lectures and speak from the audience.
- Attend all the networking events on offer, ideally accompanied by someone who knows the local region.
- Line up a future event of some kind to which you can invite delegates that you meet. It neatly solves the follow-up problem.
- Add all the business cards into your database and find opportunities to keep in touch.
- Be humble and open-minded as well as confident and professional. You have a lot to learn.
QCR: Your solutions are tailor-made for clients; how do you assess a client’s need in a market that might be overseas for both of you?
AR: The first step would be to find out what the market itself requires in order to define how best to present our clients services. This can be achieved by reference to trade magazines, trade associations, market reports or paid-for market intelligence which can be tailored to suit a client’s particular requirements.
We would also encourage our clients to draw upon the experience of their contacts in allied professions who are already working in that country.
QCR: How important are the connections a PR & marketing firm might have for its clients?
AR: As a PR consultancy with considerable experience in this sector, we would start by drawing upon our own extensive network of contacts including media partners, event organisers, and professional bodies such as the RIBA, all of whom have their own network upon which we can build. Everyone is looking to make connections so it is a case of knowing how to leverage existing contacts to take you to the next level. This is our skill.
For further information you can contact Nissrin Zaptia at Stratton & Reekie.
Read the full article from Qatar Construction Review here: http://www.qatarconstructionreview.com/project-qatar-industry-review-october/