“Why fling money at an expensive PR company when a finely tuned website can be a sustainable method of leading journalists to a SME direct?” said Charlie Burbury, in response to his ecological holiday cottages being voted Hotel of the Week by the UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday.

“We employed the web marketing consultants ‘satiworks’, who identified our target customers’ key search phrases and built a website that would be listed on Page 1 of Google for these phrases - not easy when you think of the thousands of competitors we have and many of them big brands with equally big marketing budgets.

“From this small successful investment a journalist from The Independent on Sunday found us on the Internet when preparing for their Caribbean supplement. The journalist approached Lime Tree Farm after speaking to her editor, flew out at no cost to ourselves and we became their ‘Hotel of the Week’* receiving a full-page review in their Caribbean travel magazine that has a readership of 600,000k+.

“This has not only resulted in an increase in bookings but also bodes well for the long-term. The feature is mirrored online with a link to our own website, and this further helps us to improve our search engine rankings - something that no traditional advert or paper only feature can return.

“For us to have taken out an advert in such a high-profile publication would have cost £15k+, unviable money for us a SME in a developing country and without any serious guarantee on return on investment when our customers are the types less likely to buy into a glossy advertising message. If we had paid a PR company to undertake this, it would have potentially cost at least £4k and with no guarantee of coverage. Instead via our search engine optimised website we have a medium that not only brings in business but in affect acts as a convergent marketing tool by bringing journalists to us direct and cutting out the costly PR middle man”.

Charlie’s luxury holiday cottages are located in the lush Blue Mountains of Jamaica on a working coffee farm, which were built to initially supplement the farm’s income after a hurricane had pummelled the family’s coffee crop.

Charlie had moved to Jamaica from Plymouth Devon in the UK in 1999. His grandfather Lord Caradon (Sir Hugh Foot) had been Governor General of Jamaica and for the whole family it had subsequently been a favourite holiday destination. With his uncle, Oliver Foot (Chairman of the blindness prevention charity ORBIS International) and school friend Roger Bolton, they established Lime Tree Farm in its original incarnation - solely growing the world renowned Blue Mountain coffee.

Aware of the increasing number of hurricanes from global warming, the three looked to an alternative method of ensuring that the farm could sustain itself and provide local employment even when its coffee crops were untenable, and this is when they decided to build their three environmentally-friendly holiday cottages.

After investing heavily in the cottages, little money was left over to market them – hence looking to the web to provide them with possible international clients. However, their small but affective website has bought in a booking conversion rate of 2% (inline with the travel industry giants whose name and reputation guarantee bookings) and has already increased the farm’s annual profits tenfold.

“More SMEs should be investing in this form of web-led marketing” said Sam Dunham, satiworks’ Web Marketing Consultant. “A findable website can lead to all manner of traditional marketing rewards without any of the additional investment and costs associated with an off-line marketing spend. All businesses should be more aware of the fact that 98% of journalists go online every day, and three quarters use the internet to source and create angles from the web’s cache of information that dates all the way back to 1996.”

Notes to Editor:

For further information on Lime Tree Farm please contact Charlie Burbury
Email: Charlie@limetreefarm.com
Telephone: +18768818788
Web: http://www.limetreefarm.com

For further information on satiworks please contact Sam Dunham
Email: sam@satiworks.co.uk
Telephone: +44 20 8533 4933
Web: http://www.satiworks.co.uk

* The Independent on Sunday Caribbean Supplement Hotel of the Week

Published on: 12:00AM on 16th January 2007