Sometimes I wonder, how loudly I have to say ‘Yes Iam an Indian and Iam doing business in Qatar’. And doing really well.
In the coming days I will be sharing some insight of the social media world. About how some people get judgmental on nationality over talent and real business. We are going to discuss many of those incidents where I had to be straight forward and blunt to the people who are still following that old tradition to judge people by their nationalities. Though the ratio of these people with a weak mindset is not very common, but trust me they do exist. Sometimes I ignore these people and sometimes let them know that how they are polluting our society with their sick mentality.
Being a person who can't speak Arabic and denies to be a part of the fake community very often gives me a tough time, especially when meeting with clients over business meetings. Just to clear the air, Iam not targeting any communities here nor am I saying that people coming from these places have a sick mindset. Here we are talking about a individual person who couldn't open his mind to more possibilities.
Sharing one of the incident of meeting with a PR co. Handling luxury brands in Qatar below is the discussion. Let me know your thoughts.
He - Hi Gazal, how are you? (He asked me with a smile and enthusiasm while walking towards me at the reception)
Me - (with a smile) Iam good, thank you and you?
He- GOOD GOOD, please come this way (he directed me a way to his conference room where I saw 3 people were sitting already.)
He- please take a seat, so hows everything? (While asking me to to sit.)
Me- Its good.
He- Your profile is very impressive I’ve been following you since a very long time, my colleague ( he turned to one of his colleague a Pakistani very good looking girl) She showed me your profile and I was very impressed at the first glance itself. I must say your blog is one of the most amazing blogs in Doha and we have seen you have pretty good engagements with your followers.
Me -Thank you for the lovely words 🙂
He- ( with smile he asked me ) Would you like to have something?
Me- Yeah, a cup of coffee with sugar would do.
He- Sure! (Asked his junior for a coffee) and turned back to me. So we are here to discuss some future collaborations. Some of our clients have a big name in the market. So we just wanna know a little more about you to see how we can take our business relationship further?
Me- Sure 🙂
He- So where are you from ? (While offering me a glass of water)
Me- (After taking a sip of water) Iam from India!
He - (After few seconds of pause ) What? You are an Indian? Really? You look like Arabs do. He sees other people in the room for to look for an agreement and all kinda looked agreed with him)
He continue… Like, no one would say you are an Indian, your looks doesn’t resemble a person from India.
Me - (with a not so pleasing smile) thank you.
He - So does it mean most of your followers are from India? ( a clear question mark on his face)
Me- I have both Arabs and Asians followers. Indians mostly who are based in GCC.
He- So you don’t have many Arab followers?
Me- (With sarcasm) where are you from?
He- (With a lovely smile) Me? I’m Lebanese but I was born and raised in UAE”
Me- And your colleague? who showed you my profile?
He- Ohh she is from Pakistan 🙂
Me- You see? I told you I have both following arabs and asians.
He- (laughs loudly) so others sitting in the same room “You are smart” (he made a sharp eye contact)
Me- (just smiled, took the another sip of water and kept the glass in the tray)
He - Well, (with some concern on his face), You see one of our client who is in to luxury bags and watches are looking to collaborate with local bloggers to target Qatar’s local market. And honestly, We want to target Arab’s. Our Targeted customers are not from Asia.
Me- I see, (thinking, this might not end very well but I had a eye contact with that Pakistani girl sitting next to him)
He- (asks) So do you have Arab following? since you are from India? (With lots of doubt on his face.)
Me- I do have Arab followings but which kind of followings are you looking for?
He- See, we want business and you know Arabs spend lot of money on buying luxurious stuff. (With a slight pride on his face.)
Me- True! And what made you think Asians don’t buy luxury stuff? (With a little smile but a clear ‘?’ in my eyes)
He- No, No, please don’t get me wrong. I mean its an Arab country and we just wanna make sure that our client gets benefitted when we pay any blogger. And you know Arab people would prefer to follow Arab bloggers. (A curiosity rose on his face with a not-so apologetic body language)
Me- (looking at my mobile) "I do understand your concern."
He- Anyways, we would like to know how much you charge for one post. -He felt the need to change the topic.-
Me- It depends on the brand but if you would ask me how much we’d charge to promote your luxury bag its xxxxx.
He- Wow, thats really high for just one Instagram post. Because we are working with Qatari bloggers and most of them charge lesser than this.
Me- And what made you think that to charge this amount I need to cover my self with a black designer abaya? ( I asked with a broad smile but clearly see him losing the point.)
He- No I didn’t mean to offend you, but like seriously I think this amount is really high. You won’t believe me but most of the local bloggers would willingly promote this brand if we would offer an item in return.
Me- True! but you see, some bloggers mean serious business. And they don’t compromise on what they deserve. Especially when we know the brand is doing well. I would have come down a little bit on this price if it would be some new brand trying to get in the market.
But you see this brand is already doing good. ( now he is getting uneasy)
( I continue….) “And you must be noticing Iam browsing on my phone while talking to you. and I just found out that this luxury brand has many stores in Asia. and India itself has 11 store locations, thats too in just 4 cities. (now his face has some kind of discomfort. and other sitting in the room were silent paying complete attention on what we were talking)
I still continue “And I assume this brand hasn’t opened these stores to show off or increase their store location list.. They must be doing great business thats why they are opening stores in India. and you see this same brand has only 2 stores in Qatar. So if you are talking on behalf of the brand that they don’t want to target Indian or asian audience then I doubt it, but if you are talking because you have doubts on your own then definitely you need to educate yourself a little more on targeting business than targeting people 🙂
(Now he gives a clear discomforting look. And now I feel he is gonna come to the point without stretching it more.) I wait for his reaction.
He- See Gazal its not me so don’t get me wrong, sometimes brands ask us too many questions, when we propose them a profile of bloggers.
Indeed you have a pretty profile and Iam sure you must be having lot of local followings but sometimes brands specifically mention that they need bloggers who have Arab followers.
Me- (with softness in my voice and feeling that being a man he might not digest what iam going to say but I still thought of clearing some of the points) “I do understand your situation but you need to educate your client that social media is no more about your own people. People who spend time on social media platforms are always looking for something new & creative and something which looks good to eyes. So when a Qatari person is exploring Instagram’s he is not only going to click on the post which has a person wearing their traditional black abaya or white thobe or having Qatar’s landmark in the background, as for anybody whatever looks good to eyes and seems interesting they will click on that to find out whats that and more about that.
And why would you think that arabs are not smart and they would blindlyly follow somebody who can’t even offer quality and authenticity in their content. They might follow all of them who they feel are from their own country but they won’t mind to follow some other nationals if they find their blogs are informative or interesting and something new.
Iam sure you are aware that Marketing is all about getting noticed by the buyers. And if wearing white and black or speaking Arabic is the only way to get through in this market, then you wouldn’t invite me to have this business discussion. Because I don’t wear abaya neither do I speak or write Arabic on my social media. But still Iam doing well in the same local market. Iam not trying to convince you to have business with me. For me its really important for you to understand you might not benefit your client if you don’t educate them. Iam not just talking about me but Iam talking on behalf of all those bloggers who genuinely deserve to get paid well but because of this mindset, you prefer to choose those not-so authentic bloggers over the bloggers who can actually benefit you and your client.
I wait for his response..
He- I understand and agree on some of your points. I will definitely discuss this with my client because we really want to have you on board but that would be great if you can negotiate over the price list. You see sometimes clients don’t have this much budget.
Me- Sure, we can work on that when we have a final deal.
We had further more discussion on business and on other things with laugh some agreement and some disagreements. After sometime I left that place and while driving, I was thinking about this conversation and recalling everything I said and thought, ~I could have said that~, ~I could have ignored that.~ Iam not sure if it could have handled it in a better way but at that time what I felt and needed to say, I did. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be able to make any difference in this thought process?? Or would I just give up after seeing no results? I don’t know what the future holds for me. I just know one thing, Iam a proud Indian and I won’t allow anybody to judge me on the basis of my nationality and if anybody thinks because I hold Indian nationality I should be cheaper than other nationals, then trust me they are messing with the wrong person.
Iamgazal and I will never allow to receive lesser than what we deserve.
Signing off for now, but I will be back soon
Until my next post
Stay voguish stay humble