This is the first in a series which aims to help anyone who advertises on the Internet. I’ve listed about 10 topics so far, so a new subject will be added each week for some time to come. If you have comments or requests, please do have your say by clicking on the “Comment” link above.
We will cover generating great copy, working with images, using emails effectively and the importance of Team Tourism in the coming weeks.
Being successful is all about attitude. So if you’re a small guest house and your main raison d’etre is to help pay the bond, or right off some expenses against tax, getting your attitude right is the first step.
Do that and, apart from being successful, you’ll have more fun too.
So often, someone emails us and we know immediately we have a looming disaster on our hands. Here are a few examples:
We advise people to visit our support forum first, so they know what’s required for adding a business. One person emailed us to say that he went to the forum but couldn’t see anything there.
After much puzzlement we discovered that he didn’t know that blue or underlined words meant that they linked to further information.
Now this is someone who plans to market their guest house on the Internet, but he didn’t have the first clue how it works. We’ve said over and over again, if you don’t know, get help! I learnt more about using computers when I had just bought an Apple when I sat alongside an experienced Apple user and just watched what he did.
If you are using a new medium, take time to explore… and use Google. Dammit, I should have a PhD from Google I use it so much! And no, I have never been on a computer course.
Yesterday morning I had an email from someone who had just registered on the site. He wrote that although he had just registered, he has so many usernames and passwords (which he chooses) that he forgot what he used.
Now he wrote to us by replying to his welcome email, which asked him to confirm his registration. This email displays the username and password he had just used.
A few minutes later we had another email from him saying he can’t find his business on the website. No, he hadn’t added it and our first email to him started with the paragraph:
“Adding your business is really very simple and you are able to update content yourself as often as you like. Some people still feel challenged by using the internet. If you are one of those, do find someone to help you. With the Facebook craze, you are bound to find someone who would love to help… most kids are masters of the internet!”.
We also received a new newsletter from Cape Town Routes Unlimited yesterday. Now one would expect to find marketing professionals and competent resources there. But the newsletter was unreadable. Copy was hidden behind photographs; images were the incorrect format; the whole layout was not adapted for newsletters. We guess that they tried to slap a PDF file within a newsletter template… pure ignorance!
Now you know why CTRU lost their guardianship of the Cape Town brand!
Yes, the most competent people do make mistakes, but competent people do test their work first. CapeInfo has never sent a newsletter out without first doing a trial run sent to Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail addresses. And we still got caught out by changes in the latest Outlook 2007!
We do say to everyone starting out that they are unlikely to get things right with the first effort. I always take great comfort from an article I read some years ago about Roald Dahl, the renowned author. He wrote his books in a shed at the bottom of the garden and said he rewrote everything seven times before he was happy with it. You have to work at whatever you do.
Hitting the reply button to an email you’ve just received isn’t the way to do things. In almost all cases, we find that people have not taken time and tried to resolve a problem themselves.
Every day we receive emails from our online form asking how to add a business. Immediately above the form there is a link for that question. Sending unnecessary emails is today’s scourge… are you guilty?
These emails really do just piss one off. If, on the other hand, we see that someone has tried, we do go out of our way to help. That’s true for everything in life. The harder you try, the more you get back.
Gary Player on luck:
You know, the funny thing is the harder I practice, the luckier I get.
Which brings us to your content…
So often we see a few banal sentences strung together with bad grammar and incorrect punctuation. We’ve even seen air-conditioned gardens and views! What do these people think? There are about 1000 accommodation establishments listed, all competing for business.
Even the most humble flophouse must have something compelling to say, something to captivate the reader. Try a little humour; that can help too. We’ll see if we can be more compelling than the competition and come up with a mock business online. But that’s for the coming weeks.