Thought Bubbles

By Gordon Patterson, Group MD, SMVGroup and PADI Master Instructor

As much as we would like to think that the challenges facing the scuba diving industry are unique, they’re not!  All recreational activities are faced with the same dilemma; How to grow by attracting new entrants to our sport.  Pure and simple, there’s never been a more competitive time for scuba diving!

If we are to attract the next generation of scuba divers to fuel our growth and carry the sport out to the broader population then we all need to adopt a new way of marketing.  And it’s not about spending more marketing Rands but rather being smarter, understanding the needs of our target market, working together and learning lessons from other categories that have found solution. Without going through a marketing 101 here’s a thought.

One solution that I feel could unite not only store owners but forge customer relationships and build a powerful dive community can be found in the motor biking community / lifestyle.

The concept of a “rally” needs no introduction. It’s a powerful thought; it’s credible, people driven and authentic. Divers long to be part of a visible community as can be seen by the amount of dive site t-shirts sold and seen at dive locations. Divers are proud of their clubs and often wear club clothing. These are badges of experience and reflect the diver status and pride.  If you think about it there’s really not much of a difference between bikers and divers. Eg:

  • Both sports / pastimes can be as expensive as you want to make them.
  • You travel.
  • Meet people from all walks of life.
  • Gain real authentic experiences.
  • Constantly look for new items to either enhance the experience or set themselves apart from other.

And, like all rallies not only do they attract the faithful but also large numbers of people who either have an interest or aspire to the lifestyle. A bonus is that the media tend to be drawn to the concept of a rally.

A further  aspect of a “rally” is that there is a well establish formula for success (with a host of marketing activations) that can be replicated and scaled to whatever size we as a community feel comfortable in managing.

Note from Peter Driessel, PADI Regional Manager. Gordon presented the above at a South African PADI Breakfast Club meeting.  The dive centres involved will be meeting at 16th November 2012 to expand on this idea, stay posted to the blog for feedback.

ScubaEarth Profile Troubleshooting

ScubaEarth™ launches next week to the general public.

If you haven’t set up your store profile, it only takes a few minutes.  Add your logo, links and About Us info via the PADI Pro’s Site, then click through to ScubaEarth to see it in action. For complete instructions, see our previous post Link Your Facebook Page, Blog to PADI .

If you’ve set up your account and something isn’t working right, please read on for some hints, tips and suggestions. We’ll cover:

  • Facebook link is not working
  • Blog link is not working
  • The About Us section gets cut off or has strange characters
  • How to contact us for additional questions

ScubaEarth Facebook link isn’t working

It’ s possible you’ve put in too much information into the online form. Our website will automatically populate  (see screengrab below). You only need to enter the information following

For example: if we were to paste in the entire web address below – the link won’t work. Only the part in blue should be input to the PADI Pro’s Site.

Some businesses may have a “vanity” Facebook link (see example below).

In this example, only the text PADIProsAfrica should be input to the PADI Pro’s Site. The site will automatically add in

ScubaEarth Blog link isn’t working

Here are correctly-formatted examples for a ScubaEarth blog feed using Blogger and WordPress (the two most popular platforms). Copy and paste the appropriate link into the Pro’s Site – substituting your blog’s name for blogname.



The About Us section

Here’s an article about how to write a great about us paragraph. Before saving your final copy, look for special characters such as an ampersand (&) quotation marks or apostrophe’s. These characters may not display correctly – the ampersand cannot be used at all.

Problem: black diamonds with question marks

Solution: an apostrophe or quotation mark is causing the problem. For apostrophes – put a space before the apostrophe.

OKAY: Joe ‘s Diving Locker
NOT OKAY: Joe’s Diving Locker

For quotation marks, put a space to the right of the quotation mark.

OKAY: ” free”
NOT OKAY: “free”

Problem: About Us paragraph gets cut off

For example:
Pete‘s Diving Locker offers scuba & snorkel tours year-round. Visit our website, or call us to book your adventure today.

Displays on ScubaEarth like this:
Pete‘s Diving Locker offers scuba

Solution: remove any “and” signs (aka ampersands) from your text. Anything following that special character won’t show up. For example:

Advanced ScubaEarth Troubleshooting

ScubaEarth is in Beta –  help us improve the site by reporting any problems you may be experiencing not addressed in the article above.

Click the Bug Reporting link on the left side of the screen when logged into ScubaEarth (see screengrab below).

You will be asked for your browser and operating system. To obtain this information, visit this helpful website:


Creating an About Us Page that has Impact

The About Us page is the #2 most-visited page for most new customers. Unfortunately, many businesses  haven’t updated their About Us page in years. Today we’ll  take a quick look at what makes a good About Us page and why it’s an important to attract new customers.

The About Us page is like a dating profile for your business. The customer will read about you online and decide if they want to start a business relationship.  58% of Americans research a business online before making a purchase.  Just like online dating: people want to check you out before meeting in person.

When you’re ready to take a whack at revising your About Us page, use the questions and ideas below to inspire your writing. For those of you with a Facebook page –  consider updating the “Info” section of your FB page as well.

  • Why did you start your dive business?PADI South Africa
  • Why do you love what you do?
  • How do you do this better than anyone else?
  • How are you different than the other stores in town
    (ex. we follow green business practices).
  • Where are you located?
  • Why should divers buy equipment from you?
  • How and when can you be contacted?
  • Link to customer testimonials and notable clients
  • Link to your Facebook page
  • Link to your staff page

Don’t Hurt My Eyeballs
Several short paragraphs are better than one long paragraph. After 4-5 lines of text, people stop reading and start scanning. Break up large blocks of information using bullet points when possible, and edit paragraphs to no more than four lines of text.

Brag a Little
Create a bullet-ed list to of community or industry awards you’ve received and any notable clients (such as the local fire department) – click here for an example. Also include quotes from happy customers, or a link to your testimonials page if you have one – example.

Photos:PADI South Africa

  • Include a picture of your building to help people find you.
  • Include a group photo of smiling divers or staff
    (research shows – photos of people are more appealing than photos of things)
  • Bonus Points: add a video

Randomness = Good
As a non-diver, I need to know that you’re professional and won’t drown me, but scuba is also supposed to be fun.

Put something on your page so I know you’re going to show me a good time. This could be a fun photo or just in the way you words things – click here for an example.

For additional ideas, read INC Magazine’s article: How to Design a Great About Us page.