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25.9.06

Astra's new online journal

Another experiment begins today in social marketing.

My good friends Astra and Ian Towning sold up in Leeds about two years ago and bought a large rambling home at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with a vision of running a guest house near Bedale, Wensleydale called Emfield House.

At the time it seemed a leap of faith but they are thriving. Acres of land with two horses, a flock of sheep, a clutch of hens - Hetty and the Girls, as they are known - an amiable, if over enthusiastic, German Shepherd called Ozzie and lovely wood with pond and resident kingfishers. We're so pleased for them and visit as often as time permits. The picture shows a Green Gathering get together at New Year 2006 - that's Ozzie hogging the limelight.

Recently Astra asked for my advice (rather foolishly I thought) about her website and I suggested we build one with a journal - not a blog - and an online guestbook where guest's could recount their experiences. It's now gone live and I genuinely believe it will win them more business. This could be a double-edged sword as, with two teenage daughters, they need to balance there life with the business but as I pointed out they can always turn the business away!

Social marketing is all about starting a conversation with your customers. Those wary of the theory always complain that people will say bad things about you but as the wonderful Hugh MacLeod likes to point out, the best way to control the conversation is by improving the conversation.

The site was built with a CMS programme developed by Phil Smith at our sister company Lime Brand Design (shameless plug) - the same that's being used by Wensleydaleblog and, I have to say, I am rather pleased with the results.

Astra is no journalist but she is a very good writer and I suspect over the coming months there will be some real gems in her journal. I would be interested to know if there are any other guest house-cum-B&B-cum-hotel bloggers out there.

And yes, I can recommend Elmfield House and the full English breakfast.

3 comments:

astra said...

We are delighted with our new website and the flexibility it allows us. When we set off on the path of this venture we did not imagine we would end up quite so close to the cutting edge of website design and marketing. It was interesting to see what we wanted to do - communicate with our customers from the first time they seek information - has got a name.

We are not very computer and internet savvy but have been on a fantastic learning experience with the professional and patient support of everyone involved in the development of our new site, including seeming unconcerned when I decided, half way through, that online booking was something I wanted to include. We now have a site we can manage ourselves in terms of amendments to text and photos. We are really looking forward to seeing the site grow and reflect what guests can expect when they stay with us. I assume that this self management is going to be used more in the future and limejuice is a great tool for anyone thinking of going that way.

Thank you to all at lime, and especially to you Ian, for being able to balance friendship and objective professionalism so well.

Ian Green said...

Just looked at the picture again and it looks so cringingly Middle Class! Not sure I have a problem with this or not.

Ian Green said...

Astra,

Thanks for that! I will make sure the guys at "limejuice" get your message.

Meanwhile, put the frying pan on - mine are easy over (as they say in Yorkshire).

Ta, ta love

Ian