St. Cuthbert's House

northumbrian bed and breakfast

Getting The Message Out and other secrets

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One of the most challenging and fun things about running the joint yourself is that you get to be everything. Jill thinks I spend too much time trying to be the Managing Director and Chief Executive, but that’s another story. Kitchen Assistant? That’s me. Waiter? That’s me too. Front-desk person? Yes! Tour-guide? That’s me. Except that tomorrow it might be Jill - although that means I’d have to be Housekeeper…

I enjoy all the responsibilities which go with developing a great place to stay, but there is one role whose hat I wear with a greater degree of uncertainty: that of Marketing Director.

We’ve done all our own promotion and marketing so far, although we’ve had some fantastic help from one or two marketing-savvy friends. They’re more than just savvy – they’re experts in their field. But I confess that it’s a role I find difficult to slip into. I still squirm when I remember my discomfort in the conversation with a dear friend, who is an expert in ‘bringing a brand to market’. He asked me eagerly ‘So, what is it that you’re selling?’ I looked blank. OK, look, I know I should know the answer to this, but you’re going to have to help me here. He clearly thought that by repeating the question with added emphasis on the ‘IS IT..’ part, that the dawn of realisation would suddenly sweep over me. It didn’t.

Another pal, a lifelong marketing man, gave us a deep and meaningful consultation, and handed me a great, thick, empty notebook, with the words ‘Marketing Strategy’ written on the front, and various pencilled chapter headings throughout. He’s left loads of blank pages between headings, as if he clearly expects us to fill them with brilliant and incisive ideas. I find myself writing in artificially large letters.

These guys are clever. They know how to get us to buy stuff. Most of the world would just get on and do what comes naturally, and because it comes naturally they believe they’re doing a great job, and that it can’t be improved. But now that we’ve been guided to the other side, across the perilous divide of unknowing and uncertainty, now we can see how important it is to have a marketing strategy, a PR strategy, a cohesive online presence, and a media kit. I’m even beginning, with a little help from my friends, to know what one or two of these terms actually mean.

Not that we looked like marketing newbies when we had a three-minute feature in BBC1’s Songs of Praise last Sunday. No siree. Hey – I should write that item in my strategy notebook. (Do you ever make a list of things you’ve already done, and then tick them off, just so you can see how much you’ve achieved?)

We had a call, out of the blue, from a BBC researcher, whose friend had stayed with us. They were making a SoP programme in which Aled Jones was walking the Northumberland coast, and they wanted him to meet some people along the way. Aled was a really nice, ordinary chap, and didn’t seem at all like a megastar. I even helped him connect his iPhone to our wireless network.

The resulting programme was really good – a great advert for our region (although I’m sure SoP wouldn’t see themselves as tour guides.) We were really glad to be part of it, telling something of the story and ethos of SCH - and getting a free plug on BBC1 which my marketing friends would dream of. Perhaps I won’t let on to them that this was entirely accidental – and let them think its all part of our carefully co-ordinated marketing strategy. Cool.

You can see our little contribution to the programme down below, (and it also contains the programme's introduction, so it's 4 mins in total) and the whole programme is available to watch for one week on BBC iPlayer. After that, you’ll have to buy a copy of the DVD from our Publicity Materials and Marketing Promotional Activities Reinforcement Catalogue.

Jeff Sutheran

We are Jeff & Jill Sutheran, and we own and run St Cuthbert's House. Our blog is a little corner where we come to write about things that stir us, move us, intrigue us or otherwise get us going. Usually in a good way. But not always.

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Featured Items

  • St Cuthbert's House - now in bottles...

    St Cuthbert's House - now in bottles...

    We are very proud to have our very own 'House Beer' which has been created, brewed and bottled for us by the very lovely and passionate folks at The Durham Brewery.  It even has its own golden, shiny label too! It's a strong and sophisticated ale, which shares the standards and values of St Cuthbert's House: family-crafted; built on tradition and heritage; and high-quality. Come and pour yourself one, and savour it slowly…

  • VisitEngland's 'Best B&B in England' 2017!

    VisitEngland's 'Best B&B in England' 2017!

    We were delighted to be shortlisted again, amongst the top 3 finalists from around the whole country, when we went to the VisitEngland 'Awards for Excellence 2017' ceremony at the Waldorf Hotel last week.

    But then we were absolutely thrilled to be awarded the top spot - the Gold Award, making us VisitEngland's 'Best B&B in England 2017' -  as we were in 2014 too.  To win this prestigious and highly-prized accolade a second time is very special indeed.

  • Clare votes us her No 1!

    Clare votes us her No 1!

    We've been enjoying reading Clare Balding's new book recently. She stayed with us here at St Cuthbert's House a while ago, but we were really taken aback when folks began to call to tell us that she mentions her stay at St Cuthbert's House in the book! Here's what she says, on page 201:
    'St Cuthbert's House went instantly to the top of my 'best ever B&Bs' list. I would describe it as a luxury small hotel with a family feel, but that might not fit on the signs.' Aw, thanks Clare!

  • Want to see what's so special about Northumberland?

    Want to see what's so special about Northumberland?

    Some time ago, we began work with our local Tourism Association to produce a video showing some of the things which make this area so very special.  Now the video is complete, and we are deeply grateful to the remarkable young film-maker Cain Scrimgeour for working patiently with us across the seasons, to create something very, very beautiful. This is 7 minutes long, and we urge you to settle back and watch...

  • Peter & Kathy recommend St Cuthbert's House

    Peter & Kathy recommend St Cuthbert's House

    Peter & Kathy told us that they'd really enjoyed their first stay at SCH, and so we asked them to tell you why...

    Reassure yourself - watch their one-minute video..

  • Check out our Tripadvisor Reviews

    Check out our Tripadvisor Reviews

    Check out our Tripadvisor Reviews, to find out what other guests have said about their stay.  But please - always book direct via our Book Online page to avoid fees.

    We're pleased to be included as members of the Tripadvisor 'Hall of Fame' - where entry is only available to businesses which have won Tripadvisor's coveted 'Certificate of Excellence' for five consecutive years.

  • Our Price Guarantee

    Our Price Guarantee

    You will ALWAYS receive the best possible price by booking direct with us - either by calling us on 01665 720456 or by following the Book Now menu item!  Beware that some large agencies charge you more - and they also take a large slice of commission from small independents like us.  Show your support for small businesses by booking DIRECT!

  • The Good Hotel Guide - Cesar Award!

    The Good Hotel Guide - Cesar Award!

    We're proud to be in the Good Hotel Guide!

    We're delighted to have been included in The Good Hotel Guide for several years now, and were especially proud to receive a Cesar Award from this proudly independent and highly respected Hotel review organisation in 2018.  They describe the Cesar Awards thus:

    We give our Cesar Awards to the ten best hotels of the year. Named after Cesar Ritz, the most celebrated of hoteliers, these are the Oscars of hotel keeping.

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If you have any questions, please call us on 01665 720456 or send us an email or a booking enquiry.

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St Cuthbert's House, 192 Main St, Seahouses, Northumberland NE68 7UB (00 44) (0)1665 720456