Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Brilliant Marketing for Islamic Banks (Paul McNamara)

Paul McNamara, the co-founder of Yasaar Media, released a book called "Brilliant marketing for Islamic banks" (Business Bookclub, $35). In the introduction, he describes the aim of the book:
"We hope that this book will go some of the way to giving marketers and brand managers something fresh to think about as well as a battery of ideas that they themselves can implement when they next undertake a campaign or brief their agency."
The book is well written and well organized. My background is not in marketing so my impression of the book probably reflects this. However, as a consumer myself, the insights he describes in the book make sense when I reflect how I react to marketing materials from different sources.

If I have one reservation about the book is that it is more focused on marketing and not specifically on the way in which marketing can be tailored to Islamic banks, excepting a section where he reviews the branding of several Islamic banks. However, from my experience reading promotional materials on Islamic finance and attending conferences, there is too much emphasis on Islamic finance being inherently attractive because of its focus on Shari'ah-compliance. My layman's opinion about this is that it could create complacency in marketing efforts: if a product is Shari'ah-compliant, then it is de facto superior to the alternatives and the marketing does not need to 'sell' the product on its other merits.

As I wrote about in a post yesterday, the move from profitable to successful Islamic financial products in the West (and particularly when viewing success as transcending the Muslim audience) is based on their individual traits and how they are marketed. Recent criticism of some institutions has focused on the lack of marketing efforts focused on the attractiveness of the products in areas besides Shari'ah-compliance. For this reason, Paul's book could provide a refresher course that reminds readers of the other areas that marketing can focus on to attract the interest of potential consumers, Muslim or not.

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