Small Business and Start-up Introduction to Advertising and Marketing in Dubai

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June 4, 2024

Live the Dream – Dubai Start-Up Advice Series by Alpha Pro Partners

So, you have the business idea, you have set up your company, and are ready to go. But many entrepreneurs miss the trick when it comes to advertising and marketing. Not all businesses are the same and therefore the methods involved will vary depending on factors such as if the business is a B2B (business to business) or a B2C (business to consumer) type business. Another factor to consider is that marketing is always changing especially within digital marketing and therefore the strategies used today may become outdated in 6-12 months. Within advertising and marketing entrepreneurs should also consider branding and how it resonates with their customers. 

For example, the IBIS hotel brand is very different from Intercontinental, and therefore how your customers perceive your brand is very important when they identify you. One of the formulas for a successful business is a good marketing strategy. Advertising is a key component of marketing and knowing how it must be done will step you up on the competition. As a new business, we understand that you might be aiming for a free advertisement. You probably believe that free stuff is always a good thing, and yes, it is, but for free advertising, there are things that you must remember:

  1. It is harder to get noticed on popular free business advertising platforms. The more popular a platform is, the more things are going on in it. Since most platforms battle on followers, you must have a competitive number of followers to get people to notice you.
  2. Time investment is a must. For example, in social media, people hire and pay staff or a contractor to create content. From customizing pictures to putting catchy captions. Although the platform used is free, it will still cost you money.
  3. Free platforms might require payment eventually. This doesn’t just go with advertising platforms. In almost everything, stuffs usually come free at first, normally for a month, then you will have to pay after to continue using its services. These platforms are also for businesses that need revenue.
  4. Free may mean “average” quality. When using free platforms, you cannot expect them to perform at your best expectation all the time as you are not paying in the first place. As they usually say, “You get what you paid for.” So if you didn’t pay anything at all, what exactly can you get? Right?
  5. Free platforms can be more powerful when combined with advertising. This means that you don’t have to settle in just either free or paid advertising. You might want to consider using both as they may work well with each other.

Free Advertising for Small Businesses and Startups

The Social Media world is undeniably broad but we can start right away with the most popular and good ones. You can advertise your business for free on the following:

  • Twitter - you can post thoughts, advice, or share experiences in your industry. This doesn’t require a long post as there is a tweet limit.
  • Facebook - you may create a page for your business, endorse it to your friends, and even ask them to share your page.
  • Instagram - this requires creative content as you will have to post pictures or videos on this platform.
  • YouTube – although one would not associate YouTube with social media, it is one of the platforms with the most searched terms.
  • This is most effective for businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B).

Cost Effective Advertising Ideas

Even as a small business, you might still have a budget for advertising. You don’t necessarily need free advertising. Let us walk you through these 3 cost-effective advertising ideas:

  1. Google Ads. With no doubt, this is a surely effective one as Google is the most popular search engine. It is also called pay-per-click marketing as you will pay a small amount of fee every time someone clicks your ad.
  2. Bing Ads. This is a smaller search engine than Google but is still used by millions of people every month due to it being pre-installed in the Windows operating system
  3. Facebook Ads. Considering the number of people who use Facebook every day, imagine how many people will come across your ad on it.

When running advertisements, return on investment is key, and understanding what works and what doesn’t is paramount. In many situations, you may need to conduct A/B testing which is the process of testing the same campaign but on different variables. For example, you may want to test your Facebook ads on two different age demographics.

Traditional Advertising

Although digital marketing is a massive industry in its own right, your business may be more suited to traditional advertising and may get a better return on investment. Traditional advertising includes magazine and newspaper ads, billboards, television, and radio. Many companies for example will continue to use the Dubai Eye radio station as its first point of call for radio advertising in Dubai. Engaging with a PR agency is probably the best way to maximize the traditional advertising potential. They would usually have existing contacts within traditional media to help your business during your marketing campaigns. However, they can also help on the digital side.

B2B vs B2C

Your marketing strategies will differ greatly depending on who your customer is and where you can reach them. When it comes to B2B, strategies may include using tradeshows and conferences, information webinars, networking events, and LinkedIn.B2C on the other hand can be very broad depending on the type of product or service provided but examples may include traditional advertising such as TV, radio and print media and on the digital side, running Instagram and Facebook ads and well as SMS marketing.


Having a well-thought-out strategy for your marketing needs is critical from the onset to ensure you can reach your target audience in the most cost and time-effective manner. It is best to get help from experts and marketing agencies from the onset to ensure you are on the right path. Dubai has an abundance of advertising and marketing agencies that can help you with your specific needs and most are found using a simple google search.


This article is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.

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