Hall and Woodhouse share their views on the Digital Destinations Project so far:

As part of the Digital Destinations Project, the companies involved have been asked to write up a blog of their experience so far. Below Hall and Woodhouse share their experiences:

“Bournemouth University’s ‘Digital Destinations’ seminar last week was certainly an eye opener. From ‘social media gurus’ to complete beginners, we all want to learn how to most effectively take advantage of this new phenomena to increase awareness and sales for our businesses. Times are changing in the world of Marketing, and as the digital world trickles down to the countryside and the rolling hills of Devon, Dorset and beyond, can we really ignore it in 2013?

It was really interesting to see how other companies have used viral campaigns to capture the imaginations of their audiences, and even attract new customers to the brand. The key objective to success, it seems, is combining originality, intuition and ingenuity – all with your key customer and objective in mind – and executing brave campaigns (such as Skittles’ ‘Touch the Rainbow’ campaign) with style.

When we come to think about what Digital Marketing really is – and what it has achieved for other larger companies in the past – it can be difficult to truly scope the potential for small and medium-sized businesses who may not have the budgets or manpower to throw at huge social campaigns.

SEO, hash tags, Twitter and Pinterest are unfamiliar and unfriendly terms for so many traditional marketers – let alone pub guests – so how relevant is it for a 235-year-old pub company to utilise them?

Our public houses have been going strong for 235 years – can a web page really help us provide a better service to our guests and even reach a wider audience? Are we and our comrades in Digital Dragons missing a trick by not being on ‘The Fancy’ or ‘Instagram’? It seems that one of the biggest obstacles of ‘getting into’ digital marketing is exactly where to start…

One of the biggest challenges for us is the regional nature of our business. Each of the public houses I help manage on Facebook (nearly 60 of them!) all have their own personalities and requirements, and so required their own personal Facebook pages. We don’t think it would make sense for us to have one large company page, since our guests have a relationship with their ‘local’ – and we have houses across the South of England! With team members within the public houses busy with our guests, the task fell on us at the Brewery to support their social media endeavours. Maintaining communication with the houses is key, so that we can endeavour to continue Making People’s Day.

One of the main lessons I personally took away from ‘Digital Destinations’ was to look beyond the industry we immediately work in for ‘internet inspiration’. Don’t be too caught up on competitor activity, but expand your web horizons further afield. The hospitality industry isn’t particularly well known for its online innovation, but we can look to the clever kids of fashion, FMCG and heritage brands – or quirky, up-to-speed small-scale businesses – who have really set a standard for digital campaigns. There’s no point emulating a competitior – the aim is to be new and different, and constantly “raising the bar”.

What will be most interesting for us at Hall & Woodhouse will definitely be how we use and translate these concepts and put them into practice. Is the internet really the best place for us to connect with our customers, and if so, how do we go about it? And more importantly, how do we measure the success of it?

We’re sure the students won’t be the only ones learning a thing or two at the next seminar…”

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