Saudi Arabia Journey to brand Airline

I’m excited, anxious and very proud.

About a month ago, I got a call from a major Saudi company inviting me to address 300 of their team members on branding. They are the national airline; the Saudi Arabian Airlines. They learned about me through my Google ranking and were convinced I knew my stuff from my websites, videos and blogs.

I was surprised as Saudi still practices many gender divisions. And they selected me, a woman business expert on branding.

I had to immediately report to my contact – the VP of marketing and a member of the company for over 32 years. He was knowledgeable, kind and equally enthusiastic about the new business relationship.

We ironed out a deal, discussed their objectives and my program: Why brand? Which focuses on touch points, social media,  customer experiences, and all the details that go with it.

While I thought I was pretty worldly, I was really in the dark concerning this country and their culture. As many of you will have opportunities to do business around the globe, I’m pleased to share what I’ve learned in preparing for the trip so far and will blog regularly from abroad. After my trip to the Middle East I will head to NYC for 6 days and will share more insight from my journey there.

Marketing lessons.

  • If you can do business abroad, make sure your web site reflects that.
  • When a lead calls you, qualify them immediately. Discuss budget, objectives, terms.

Communication lessons.

  • Even if your contact speaks great English, don’t assume they can read all your emails.
  • Don’t use local slang, speak clearly and in a concise manner.
  • Speak to others involved in the project. For me, it was the other speakers, John Tschohl,
    Steve Martin, James Belasco and Gerrie Smith with a UK firm called Honour that  has a history of working with the client. All provided so much valuable insight and they are now my new global friends.

Travel lessons.

  • You must have a visa to enter Saudi. This takes some time. For a couple hundred dollars, I engaged a DC firm to facilitate the process. A1passport and Visa Express was great to work with. They handle everything. They take your documents to the embassy and secure the visa.
  • Get to know military time.
  • Pack your international electricity plugs for your computer.
  • For limited over seas flights, don’t risk missing it, get to NYC a day early, just in case.

Cultural lessons.

  • Do your homework. Understand and respect your client’s values and traditions
  • Talk to others who have journeyed there. In this case, other women.
  • Modify your content, so its effective, yet not offensive . Go light on US examples, include world case studies.
  • Jump in their shoes. Be relevant.

More next week!

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