The power of the internet…


Satellite radio is a boon for long car journeys and this weekend, making a five-hour plus drive back from diving, I was listening to a radio magazine program on the BBC (the UK’s public network). Throughout this month, BBC Radio’s special focus is the internet and the influences it has had on business and popular culture around the world. The show I listened to featured an interview with a farmer in rural Africa. Now the guy in this interview really was off the beaten track. To even use the internet, he had to ride his bicycle 10 kilometres (six miles) to the “local” internet café.
So it was interesting to hear that he had used the web to research a solution to a bug problem that threatened his potato crop. The fix he found through Google worked better than the chemical pesticide his government’s farm agent had recommended and his potato harvest was one of the best ever. He used the internet again, to sell his crop to a cooperative.
The show went on and it turned out that this guy, living miles from anything you and I would considered comfortable and wired, was quite the power-user. He had a facebook page, communicated with other farmers about market prices, and was pretty tuned in to ways to use the web for profit.
Of course, I got thinking about our industry and specifically about some industry pros who remain suspicious of anything remotely connected to the web. You may find it difficult to believe – perhaps not – but even we have members who do not have active email addresses and whose stores have no cyber presence.  And of course, that’s perfectly fine, but it does present some challenges for us.
SDI, TDI and ERDI place a great deal of faith in the power and impact of electronic communications. We lead the pack presenting onLine academics and blended learning, we have electronic versions of most traditionally published teaching and learning materials, distribute eNewsletters to many thousands of divers around the world every month, and of course, use member’s area of our website and communications such as this to keep professionals like yourself “in the loop.”
But we do need your help from time to time. One area and in my opinion a somewhat contentious one following a little PR nightmare for one of our competitors recently, is the issue of customer email addresses and opting out issues.
Allow me to explain. When you register a student with us for a Certification Card, whether you have an in-store printer, use online registration, or mail in paper in the traditional way, we ask for an email address for that person. There are a couple of reasons why we do this. First and foremost is that the training department at SDI, TDI and ERDI uses email as the preferred method to run its QA program. Email queries are routinely sent out to students to sense-check courses. Currently, these “questionnaires” are not sent to every student, but at some time in the near future, the number of people we ask for feedback, will grow.
Secondly, we send out email invitations to divers to sign up for the eNewsletter we send out, and to download their free copies of Underwater Journal, a Diving Adventure Magazine. Both these publications include articles and features designed to drive YOUR customers back into YOUR store.
Our organization never uses email addresses supplied by our member to sell direct. We do not sell equipment, travel, service, air-fills or anything else directly to YOUR customers. And that’s a promise that we can backup with a 100 percent track record.


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