Posts Tagged ‘customer


Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate

Real Estate advertising is mushrooming faster than buildings. But the corny ads that stand in ovation to the utter lack of creativity are not the problem.

The problem is that most, if not all the campaigns speak to a microscopic elite in a country where over the two third of the population can barely afford a loaf of bread.
The problem is that clients lack so much marketing acumen that taking them for a ride and making them to spend an arm and a leg becomes child play. Besides lacking originality, their advertising speaks to an audience that reads the newspaper in the back of their limousines while being chauffeured to destination. An audience that does not even look outside the dark tinted glass of their cars.
I got news for those Real Estate companies: Your “target audience” as your agencies taught you to call them, will never look for a 2 million Dollars apartment on a billboard on the Zalka highway! This audience does not need advertising claiming “Paradise on Earth” (in Lebanon…) to trigger their purchase behavior!
Having said that, some potential buyers might shop for a flat on outdoor media, but then, who might those prospects be? Did you ever worry about dissecting your audience, not by how much money they carry in their mattresses, but by their propensity to fill your flats?
Because, in Lebanon, the short-term fast buck over-rules the long-term brand-investment, advertisers always choose to go for the easy route; note that it is the smartest one, or the actual golden goose.
If we want to build the country on mob money, and Gulf tycoons, then be it. But for heaven’s sake, stop bragging about patriotism, and stop using nationalistic and outdated slogans. Lebanon does not, and will not get any better with your tall buildings. The way it’s going right now, it only will get uglier.
The fact is that, by playing the ostrich, we are as morally corrupt as the mafiosi who buys the 2 million Dollars flat.
My dear real estate developers, here’s an idea to make money and sleep restfully at night. We need condos, we need thousands of flats for the average Lebanese, the honest one. We need small town houses for the thousands of daily commuters who, for a change, work honestly and hard to earn their buck. Now you do the math. But before doing so, use (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to admit that, since the late eighties, economies have undergone a paradigm shift, from a margin to a volume market. Hell! Even Apple realised it! You can make more money by selling more and cheaper, rather than selling less but more expensive. You can make more money by selling to the poor!
Here’s another insight: The rich buy your flats in good times, when economy is flourishing and the cash is safe. But when hard times hit – and they do often lately – the rich are the first to hold their horses back. The average consumers on the other hand, buy an apartment because they “need” one. Their decision to buy is not investment-based, it is need-based. And here once more I implore (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to answer the 101 question: what does marketing address? Yes, yes, “needs”.
By doing so, you win a favorable reputation, you build a better brand, you will be respected and loved by the society, your product will spread to cover the nation, and you will be one of the rare businesses where the very nature of your product is intrinsically a CSR program. You will need to advertise less, thus use your marketing cash on smarter programs, or simply stash it if you wish to do so.
No, I am not a communist! And no, I am not asking you to refrain from erecting those beautiful skyscrapers that adorn our capital. All I’m saying is that , in a country of endless paradoxes, it would be a stimulating change to see someone “think smart” about creating an equilibrium. But that’s just me.

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Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate by Ibrahim Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

“Good morning, you have reached Terranet, for sales dial 1, for support dial 2, for a psychiatrist dial 3. (The last one is my recommendation, strongly)
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

– Hello, this Rami, how can I help you?
– Um, hi, I purchased a new Cisco modem, and I would like you to guide me through the configuration please.
– It’s very easy. Just set the VCI and VPI…
– Woooa! Hold on. Set the what?

– (With an audible yawn) Set the VCI and VPI. Did you configure the modem?
– Huh? I’m calling you for that!
– Is it hooked?
– (No it’s not! It’s in the microwave getting defrosted, I would have loved to say) Yes it is. Hooked and I logged in to it via my browser. Shall I tell you the options I have and you tell what to do?
– (With the end of another long audible yawn) What do you have?
I start enumerating the options for every setting. I only heard his voice twice:
– VCI 0, VPI 35
– Is that it?
– Yes
– So now all I should do is connect to the Internet.
– Yeh
– Thank you

I hang up, reboot the modem and try connecting to the Internet. Nothing.

I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Hussein, how can I help you?
– Excuse me, I was talking to Rami regard..
– Rami is busy on another line, how can I help you?
– Ok. So I got this Cisco modem and I configur…
– Hold on!
– Yes? This is Rami
– Oh hi! I spoke to you a while ago regarding a Cisco modem…
– Cisco modem? Regarding what?
– Configuration?
– Oh yeh. So…
– Well, it’s not working…
– Why did you get a Cisco?
– WHAT?… Because YOU guys told me, get a Cisco or a D-Link… So I got the Cisco…
– Yeh, but the THOMSON you have now is better….
– Ok. But I got the Cisco now, and it’s not connecting. The “Internet” light is off.
– Do you have phones at home?
– Yes. Why?
– Disconnect them all and retry?
– Excuse me?
– Yeh, you might have a “loop”
– A loop? Uumm, Uhun, yep. Cool. Ok.
A loop? I thought I was installing a modem, not knitting a pullover!
I disconnect all the phones at home, reboot the modem and try to connect again. Nothing.
I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Samer, how can I help you?
– Can I speak to Rami?
– Moment…
– This is Rami, how can…
– Rami, it’s me again (I just mastered the cut-you-in-the-middle-of-a-sentence technique!) I disconnected all the phones, it’s still not working.
– Well, I don’t know (with such a lazy voice)… Get a technician… Or the modem is defective.
– Defective? It’s a brand new Cisco! All is working perfectly, but it stops at “Internet”
– Yeh, it might be defective. It happens…
– Oh. It does? I did not know that… Thank you anyway for your precious assistance Rami!
I hang up.
Welcome to the world of Lebanese ISP customer support!
If “For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”, all ISPs would be out of business by now…


We keep hearing about “personal branding”. This is fine… so far. But when you really ponder upon the subject, you will discover that  a “person” is a relative entity which actually a part of the many. Which leads to an intriguing thought: Our individuality is conditioned by our integration within the mass. So in other words, a person is a person when it is an intrinsic part of a group of persons.

Wao! I had to read three times what I just wrote to grasp it!

So, if you ask me (and yes, I know you are), our definition, perception and evaluation of a person is dictated by the environment in which that person thrives at large, but most importantly by the small circles within which that person engages in interaction. And those circles usually are family, friends, and work.

I will focus on friends for a simple reason. Family is a conditioner. Since we’re born within a family, we spend the first 18 years of our lives being conditioned by our parents, family sociocultural inheritance and the safe haven they provides. So there, we have a little leeway to maneuver. Comes work, and there again, most of our behavior and person(ality) are “dictated by the amount of will we harness to progress our career, kiss the boss’s ass (or the receptionist’s…), earn a raise, or see our opponents drop.

With friends, on the other hand, we simply blossom. Our choice of friends is a very intricate strategy, happening most of the times in the depth of our subconscious, yet complex enough to explore. Yeah, I know, it’s getting ugly.

Our awareness about our own image or brand is an important factor in choosing friends. A friend has to enhance some aspect of our own brand. Depending on how smart (or lame) you are, you choose your friends to boost specific aspects of that brand of yours. You hang out with the jet-setter or the trendsetter, the geek because he or she expands your knowledge base or the weak because they help you shine. Yeah, yeah, you love your friends, I know. What you don’t know is “why”!

Why do you love a friend? Pick one right now and describe why you love him or her. You will end up stating their qualities, the ones that “you” like about them, the ones that you feel fit your image, personality and character. In other words, that person is “fit” to be your friend. It fulfills a specific purpose, it’s a link in your chain of self-branding. Mind you, you’re the same to your friends.

So next time, you find yourself engaging in the friendship ritual with another person, try to reflect on what that person represents to you and what you represent to him or her. This will be a wonderful way to understand the importance of a balanced chemistry between bot of you.

At the end, you will be labeled as a group or a bunch (or a posse), even sometimes a couple (no, not as in an item) and you will enjoy the bliss of the friendship brand. You will be safe inside that brand. You will be protected by the others, giving you the range to screw up from time to time and not be noticed. Because, once the friendship brand prevails, you, the “person” become part of a bigger scheme, where what makes you who you are perceived to be, is not how you act, but how your action integrates with the collective behavior of your bunch.

If today’s organizations realized the power of friendship branding, they would be in control of a powerful social weapon. Few (if any) organizations understand the true nature and power of friendship. But are they to blame? So many of us have yet to grasp it ourselves…

At the end, the same way we, as people, need to understand the science behind friendship to make the best of it, organizations have yet to understand the friendship behind the science to win their customers hearts.

©2010 – Ibrahim Lahoud


June 2018
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Creative Commons License
Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
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