Specialists Rock Interview With Linda Fairbairn

Linda FairbairnThis is the second Specialist Rock interview.

I first came across Linda from Journey Jottings on Twitter and a blog where we both comment.

Her tweets and comments are always of interest and I am pleased she agreed to share her story and be part of Specialists Rock.

Could you tell us a little about your background and your business?

I qualified as a cartographer (map-maker) and initially worked with mineral exploration companies in outback Australia.

With a love for travel it was a brilliant way to get paid for going bush and seeing remote regions of the country (Pilbara, Kimberleys, Gulf of Carpentaria) whilst collating preliminary ground surveys with a small team of geologists and field assistants.

My business Journey Jottings (founded 2003) highlights holiday adventures by offering a pictorial map of Australia upon which to plot your trails, surrounded by boxes to jot your travelling tales. Most maps tell you where to go, Journey Jottings help you remember where you’ve been!

The first ‘Map Journal’ was published in 2004.

We have supplied over 1,000 retailers across Australia and offer our products on-line.

Why did you choose to specialise in the products you offer?

In 2003 travelling home to Brisbane from the Northern Territory I became acutely aware that my ubiquitous travel journal was lacking on numerous counts. To solve its short-comings I wanted a product that would address specific needs:

  • Offer travellers a visual keepsake to complement their written journals.
  • Offer holidaymakers a way to simply summarise their trip on a single sheet more suited to showing and sharing with family and friends.
  • Offer a form for recording memories when going on a vacation where a full blown journal isn’t warranted (short breaks – not a journey as such)
  • Take the pressure off starting on Day 1 (Can be started on any day/anywhere and it still makes sense)
  • Provide something more than just a souvenir map of Australia to put on the wall.

What are the benefits to your business and clients from providing specialised products?

The benefit to our business of publishing a specialised type of map is that we stand out from the crowd – It’s easier to become a big fish in a small sea!

The benefit for our customers is naturally that they will get more precisely what they want and in return become true ‘fans’ who willingly spread the word –

It’s a win:win

If someone was looking to specialise what tips or advice would you give?

Go for it –

It’s been said a million times over, but you can’t be all things to all men –

While the theory that your product/service can have a universal appeal/attraction is a wonderful thought, the reality is you need a core market for whom your product/service solves a specific problem.

That doesn’t mean to say it won’t appeal to a broader market as a ripple effect, but these ripples are a by-product. Your strength lies in the hub.

Specialities stand out from the crowd by being different, making it easier to be recommended as the go-to person for that specific niche.

I love the Zig Ziglar quote:

“You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”

What are the key marketing tactics you use to promote your products?

As a publisher/distributer of Map Journals we have to market to both the customer who is the end user, as well as the retailers who we must first convince to stock them.

We focus on three marketing tactics for a period to trial, review the results and then adapt and/or repeat.


We supply our products with branded display boxes – This makes it easier for the retailer to merchandise and therefore decide to put our products on their shelf.

It provides a branded image to the end-user who sees our products presented in the same way across the board.

Direct Marketing:

We have tried trade fairs, but are currently getting better results from warm calling. We pre-select outlets for suitability, only calling tourist places where our ideal customer would frequent. By targeting our approaches the call is invariably a warm call rather than a cold call! Once a stockist, they’re added to our growing database where more importantly we encourage their repeat business by offering wholesale specials in our monthly trade newsletter and talking with them regularly on scheduled follow up telephone conversations.

Social Media ~ I write a weekly blog post about Australian travel and journaling ideas – Because my topics are niche specific the keywords for SEO generally happen organically. The blog post is put out on Twitter and added to my Facebook business page and LinkedIn profile. My twitter and Facebook addresses are also on our products so end users can connect with me informally.

To find out more about Linda’s products visit Journey Jottings. You can follow her on Twitter @journeyjottings and join her on Facebook.

13 Responses to Specialists Rock Interview With Linda Fairbairn

  1. Great business idea Linda and your marketing seems to be spot on.

    You personify the importance of finding a niche where something is lacking and provide what’s needed.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. What a wonderful product. Something that stood out for me in your marketing is that your product is branded so that it is stands out on a shelf. I can easily imagine one tourist telling another “look for the red / green box” (not sure what you real color scheme is!) The brand becomes part of the “word of mouth” message which tourists are known for.

    I also appreciate your idea of “warm” call to keep the personal touch involved.

    • Hi Keyuri ~
      Thank you for the compliment!

      We maintain a certain ‘look’ to all our products too, so as you say the image is recognizable.

      No one likes making ‘cold’ calls – Contacting pre-selected customers where we feel our products should do well takes the edge off that first contact so we always refer to that initial call as being a ‘warm’ call – Makes everyone far more relaxed as the number rings and this (necessary) experience more pleasant for both parties 😉

  3. Great stuff, Susan! Linda’s a keeper alright. One of the true gems I’ve met via Twitter too. So innovative, imaginative and generous. All power to her (and you for showcasing this impressive businesswoman)! Best regards, P.:)