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5 Simple WhatsApp Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners

The golden rule of marketing is to occupy the spaces your customers spend time in.  Radio. Television. The Internet.  Cellphones.  When consumers flock to a platform, it’s not long before brands follow suit.  But what about WhatsApp?

With the new(ish) WhatsApp for Business app, it’s now easier than ever for brands to make communication with their customers as “frictionless” as possible.

But what about the small business owner?  Is there a way to use “ordinary” WhatsApp for marketing their business?

I’m so glad you asked.

I recently sat down with my friend Julian Goldswain, who happens to be a professional lifestyle photographer, to brainstorm some fresh, zero-cost marketing strategy ideas for him to grow his network and his business.  And WhatsApp played a pretty big part in that discussion.

Here are five WhatsApp marketing strategies that any small business owner can implement immediately:

  • Change your WhatsApp profile picture to something that reflects your brand e.g. logo or professional headshot.
  • Change your WhatsApp status to your website address.
  • Have a square graphic designed that’s “on brand”, containing your logo, website address and, if you have space, your generic business services on offer.
  • Have another square, “on brand” graphic designed showcasing a special offer you’re running e.g. Two for one special on wedding photography packages.
  • Compose a short, humble, request to go along with your generic graphic, customised for each specific contact, asking whether that perform would be happy to share that graphic with any of their connections who might be interested in your services.

And there you have it.  Five easy tweaks you can drum out quickly that will help grow your word of mouth marketing – which is really the most powerful way to grow your brand.

Which of your social platforms are gathering dust?  Make sure WhatsApp isn’t one of them.

Email us at info(at)anagomarketing.co.za to arrange a marketing strategy consultation for your business.

 

Lisa interviews Jonathan Anstey at the launch party of the Caesarstone Design Studio.
Lisa interviews Jonathan Anstey at the launch party of the Caesarstone Design Studio.

How to get a great video interview

If you’ve produced a corporate video, or any audio-visual production where ordinary people need to speak on camera, you’ll understand that it can be a big challenge.

Noisy backgrounds and nervous interviewees can make it extremely difficult to get responses that will work well in an edit – both from a sound quality perspective and a storytelling one.

I was recently approached to produce the promo video of the brand new Caesarstone Design Studio launch.  Having worked extensively with this fantastic brand for nearly 6 years, I’m very familiar with their need to produce high quality video content that reflects the brand’s top positioning in the market.  But with intense time restraints and an interview environment that wasn’t noise controlled, it was going to be tricky.

Here are my nine tips for producers who want to get great video interviews, no matter who they’re interviewing:

1.Prepare

One of the most useful things you can do to prepare for a shoot is to formulate questions for your interviewees, before the shoot.

With limited time, there’s no use fumbling around to come up with questions on the spot.  Knowing which questions you need to ask also helps to mentally prepare the person who will be speaking as you can warm them up by getting them to think about their responses while they’re getting ‘miked’ up.  One of my favourite tricks is to ask all the interviewees all the questions that may be pertinent to them.  That way you can pick and choose which answers work the best with your editor in the post production phase.

2. Explain Your Process

Unless you have a seasoned presenter on your hands, most interviewees have no idea what to expect, which is what makes them uneasy.

Always introduce yourself and the camera operator (or at least the main people who will be interacting with the interviewee), and tell them what to expect.

Processes to cover could be:

  • where you want them to stand or sit;
  • why you are asking them to move or turn their body;
  • how the microphone needs to be attached to their clothing and why;
  • why they need to state and spell their name to the camera;
  • more or less how long the final edit will be and how long their contribution will probably be in that edit;
  • which questions you want to begin with and why;
  • getting their buy-in and agreement to say any prepared or scripted phrases you have on hand;
  • why their answers need to be only two to three short sentences (or however long you want them to be);
  • why it doesn’t matter if they mess up an answer. (If it’s not a live broadcast, they can have another go).

3. Keep Transluscent Powder on Hand

Sometimes the way a shot is lit can make your interviewee’s face, or bald spot, look particularly shiny.  Generally speaking, this doesn’t look good on camera and may make your interviewee feel self-conscious when they see themselves in the final video.

Keep a box of translucent powder and a fluffy applicator brush on hand, just in case.

On that note, it’s always a good idea to protect the dignity of whoever is in front of the camera. If their makeup is smudged, there’s some leftover lunch stuck in between their teeth, or their hair is sticking up in a strange way, always let them know – gently and respectfully.  If there’s no mirror or phone camera available, either send them to the restroom or help them out yourself.  Except if there’s something between their teeth…

4. Say Your Name

A great way to focus the person sitting in front of the camera is to ask them to tell you their designation and spell their name and company name.  Only get them to do this once your camera operator has given you the green light to confirm their sound is up and running.  This is also incredibly useful to the editor who will have to correctly title each interviewee, probably when you’re not around to help!

5. Change the Topic

Soon into the interview some people will head swiftly into a brain freeze where they go blank on what they want to say.  This often happens after they’ve repeatedly answered the same question, but they keep stumbling over their words and they begin to get disheartened.

As the producer this is a great moment to step in and ask them a completely unrelated question to ‘reset’ their brain.

Offering them a sip of their coffee or a glass of water will also give the interviewee time to compose themselves and relax again.

6. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

A trick I learned in my early days of producing was to err on the side of encouragement.

We all feel better about ourselves and our performance (and we’re more likely to deliver a better performance) when we feel safe and that the people around us are on our side.

Even if your interviewee doesn’t answer your question properly, or stumbles over their words, tell them they’re doing great!  Only after you’ve praised them should you explain what you want them to change the next time around.  Never discourage an interviewee by telling them they messed up.  Rather say something along the lines of, “That was great!  Let’s try that again this way instead”.  That way you’ll protect your relationship with them and leave them more likely to step in front of a camera again in future.

7. Say These Exact Words

During your question preparation, it’s sometimes helpful to come up with exact phrases you want your interviewees to say.

Corporate videos usually have very specific marketing objectives they are designed to achieve.  Whether it’s a campaign catchphrase or a sassy key selling point, the great thing about prepared phrases is you will leave the shoot with confidence that you’ve covered all your bases.

Also, with growing pressure to create short, punchy videos, there usually isn’t time for long-winded responses to your set questions!

8. Make Them Laugh

Or at least make them smile.

The camera tends to flatten our emotions, which is why you may need to get your interviewee to add some extra conviction, smiles, warmth to the delivery of their answers – all in an effort to help them ‘read’ better on camera.

Tell a joke, or dramatically tell them “This is the best day of your life!” – that’s one of my favourite tricks to help people to warm up their disposition for an interview.

9. Say Thank You

This sounds obvious, but once you feel you’ve gotten all the answers you need, make sure to thank the interviewee and tell them they did a great job!  No matter how stressed out or pinched for time you are, it’s important to finish your interaction with each interviewee on a high note.  You’ll only do your own reputation a favour and you’ll help them to feel good about their performance, which will only reflect well on the brand you’re representing.

 

Take a look at the final result of the video I produced for Caesarstone and see if you can work out where I activated my producer magic.  Enjoy!

 

South Africans can expect more UK work permits after Brexit

With less than a month to go until Brexit, South Africans could find it easier to obtain British visas, come 29 March.

United Kingdom (UK) immigration expert Ryan Rennison, of Move Up UK Visa Solutions, predicts skilled South Africans will find it easier to obtain work permits, and possibly settlement rights, after Brexit.

“In spite of SA’s visa-free status being revoked in 2009, deal or no deal, Brexit preparations have already significantly altered the work permit landscape in the UK, with signs that even more positive changes are on the way” Rennison said.

Official figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK has already increased by more than 100,000 to a new record high.

Professor of economics at King’s College London, Jonathan Portes, said the statistics confirm there has been a “significant ‘Brexit effect’ on migration from the EU”.

He said that Brexit-related uncertainty has made the UK a “less attractive place for EU citizens to live and work”, adding: “At the same time, there is some evidence that this reduction in labour supply from the EU has resulted in higher levels of non-EU migration.”

ONS statistics confirm that South Africans are some of the most sought-after employees in the UK’s foreign workforce.  Figures for specific nationalities show the non-EU workforce included 194,000 Indians, 107,000 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, 96,000 Americans, 71,000 Australians and New Zealanders, and 64,000 South Africans.

“In the UK, South Africans are known for being hardworking employees who generally get along with their colleagues and fit in well with British culture,” says Rennison.

He added, “With the drop in EU migrants to the UK, I would also expect to see an even greater increase in South Africans on track towards settlement rights over the next year and beyond.”

In December, ministers presented plans for the biggest shake-up of the UK immigration system in the last 40 years.

The proposed “skills-based” system will create a new temporary work route, remove the annual cap on skilled work visas and will no longer require employers wanting to sponsor overseas employees to carry out a “resident labour market test”.

While Brexit signals increased opportunities for skilled South African workers, the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee recently announced the Seasonal Agricultural scheme that comes into operation in the British Spring of 2019.  Open for all applicants, this scheme will provide a new visa route to the UK for South Africans.

Move Up has recently made a free online visa assessment available to South Africans exploring moving to the UK.  Visit www.moveup.co.za or email info@moveup.co.za for more information.

 

ENDS

Media Coverage:

Businesstech.co.za

 

 

 

Dear John letter conceptual image with vintage retro feel.
Dear John letter conceptual image with vintage retro feel.

Dear John… A Break Up Letter to Digital Product Vendors

What do you do when you’ve been forced into a long-term relationship with a company you discover you want to break things off with a month after ‘getting together’?

There’s a trend among digital product vendors, apps and software developers to lock their customers into an automatic, annual-“subscription”-renewal billing system. That’s right, more often than not, the customer cannot opt for a manual subscription renewal when purchasing a product. They usually can’t even dictate how long they want to use the service / app / software for. Yikes!

Recently reading Carmen Murray’s poignant article on how brands need to become obsessed with what customers want was the antidote I needed to break free from a toxic, nay, abusive, digital relationship I was locked into for a year. (What else do you call a connection that remorselessly serves the needs of only one party?).

I recently battled with an American company that automatically renewed my “subscription” to their branding suite service – which I stopped using 11 months ago. A surprise notification of nearly R2,000 ($140) deducted from my credit card was the tip-off. Murray’s serendipitous article supplied the Dutch courage. Zero evidence of a subscription reminder in my inbox was my napalm.

After a cut-to-the-chase email to their customer services team, I was informed by “Daniel” that a refund for the automatic subscription was against company policy: “Do note that we advertise the nature of our subscription plans all across our website”. No matter. I was ready for a fight. After I put up some resistance, Daniel wrote back that the Head of Finance had offered me – a special case – a 50% refund, as apology for any confusion. I was incensed. I didn’t care. Their policies meant zip to me.

Fresh rage at Daniel’s condescension empowered me to fight their legalese with a powerful dose of common sense:

Hi Daniel,

As a marketer myself I’m amazed that you choose not to remind customers about pending renewals. Surely you have more faith in your product than to “tie your hands” and unhappy customers to your brand with a really customer-unfriendly policy?

If you consider your customers’ perspective, how on earth do you expect us to remember the unsubscribe deadlines on all the apps and software subscriptions we have?!

I appreciate the 50% refund offer, but please understand that I almost never returned to your site after generating a logo. I think I downloaded my logo options, the business card and tried, in vain, to find brand-appropriate social media posts. Other than that I found ****** *****’s offerings unsuitable to my needs.

I ask that you talk to your marketing manager and refund me the full amount, releasing me from an association with your company, whose services I won’t be using going forward.

Thank you for your understanding,

Lisa

If only Daniel was the first recipient of one of my “Dear John” letters. After being accosted more than once by this backward, customer-hating policy, all I’m left wondering is, which short-sighted amoeba infected these companies and told them to sell their products to people this way?

They really shouldn’t call it a subscription if they’re forcing customers into a my-way-or-the-highway contract that doesn’t serve their customers’ needs. Wake up, businesses! Wake up, brands!

“We need to be obsessed with our customers, take interest and express empathy towards their wants, their needs, their frictions, and solve the problems that keep them up at night. Customers are the beating heart of our businesses” – Carmen Murray

Ms Murray reminds us that the reality is the customer is in the driving seat. Businesses should be constantly developing their products and services in response to customer needs and wants.

If you want to gain traction and inject some longevity into your business, take Murray’s advice – follow the trend of the twenty-first century and put your customers first. Find out how they want to buy from you. Ask them what they like about your business and what they’re hating! They will tell you. Most of all, don’t lock your precious customers into a toxic, long-term relationship, or you’ll be going through a lot more messy, permanent break-ups.

_________________________________

A NEW article from our founder, Lisa Aspeling, recently published on LinkedIn.

 

Video Makes the World Go Around

It’s old news by now, but video is becoming an essential weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.  Here are just a handful of stats relating to the importance of video:

  • 86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new (Google)
  • People spend on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without (Wistia)
  • More than 50% of videos are watched on mobile (Ooyala, 2016)
  • Half of 18- to 34-year old YouTube subscribers would drop what they’re doing to watch a new video by their favorite creator (Google, 2016)
  • 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers in the future (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality (Google, 2017)
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in a text (Forbes, 2018)

Looking at these numbers it’s clear that brands need to strongly lean into video production within their campaigns.  One brand leading the video production charge, and one we’ve worked with for many years, recently got us involved in two of their video productions, with our founder, Lisa Aspeling, taking on the role of producer in each one.

The first video was created to launch the new brief for the Caesarstone Student Designer competition, featuring competition judge, Michele Rhoda, also a director of interior design giant, ARRCC.

 

 

The second video we produced was the opening of the brand new Caesarstone design studio in Kramerville, Johannesburg. (Coming soon!)

Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his back
Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his back

How to Avoid Dodgy Immigration Agents

Another piece of content marketing that doubles up as a media release for our client Move Up.

Sihouette of young family and airplane

While it’s essential to choose an immigration agency that handles visa and passport applications both professionally and efficiently, with so many options out there how can you know who you can trust?

Here are 10 tips to help you choose a reputable consultancy that best suits your needs:

1. Just Ask

Ryan Rennison, managing director of United Kingdom (UK) visa solutions experts, Move Up, says your first port of call is to ask friends and family about their experiences, “Social media is an amazing tool for polling your networks for their recommendations of which companies do a good job – with a smile – and those you should steer clear of. The chances are if your neighbour, cousin or colleague had a positive experience with an immigration expert, you’ll have one too,” says Rennison.

2. Google Reviews

Marketers will tell you, nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to endorsements – and criticisms. When you’re doing online research, make sure you read your prospective immigration agency’s Google Reviews for unadulterated, first-hand opinions from people in the know.

3. Social Media

If Google uses companies’ social media presence to rate their relevance and legitimacy, then you should too. Take a look at your prospective immigration agency’s social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to check whether they are up to date. An inactive, empty or missing page may be a sign that the company is ‘fronting’ and not to be trusted.

4. Lawyer or Agency?

Avoid unnecessary costs by finding out exactly which services you require. Immigration lawyers are best suited to complex immigration cases and often charge higher fees, while a straightforward visa or passport application can easily be managed by a reputable and experienced immigration consultancy. If you’re exploring moving to the UK, try this free birth certificate evaluation to see if you qualify for an ancestral visa or British passport.

5. Get Quotes

Make sure you compare immigration consultants’ fee structures to get an idea of the range of pricing out there. While some agencies are cagey about telling you how much of what you’re paying goes straight into their pockets, there are agencies that freely publish their fees on their websites.

On the flipside, remember that too-good-to-be-true fees are usually just that! While the offers from less reputable agencies can have hidden Ts and Cs, some trustworthy companies like Move Up offer a solid fees-back guarantee: if your visa application is not successful, they promise to refund your fee in full.

6. Ancient History

Not always, but usually the best immigration agencies have been around for many years. Look at the company’s track record. Are the employees experienced? Does the person heading up the organisation have a solid reputation? Can you get in touch with them easily if something goes wrong? Don’t be shy to ask for contactable references if you’re still unsure.

7. Security

Good agencies will have policies and procedures in place that help give you peace of mind when it comes to handling and storing sensitive, personal information.

For secure online payments, make sure their website URL begins with ‘https’. The ‘s’ means the website is secure and will safely process any credit card transactions you initiate.

8. Governing Body

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t yet have a governing body or regulator to assist consumers with avoiding rogue immigration agencies. Few governments have the capacity to regulate other countries’ immigration agencies, which means it’s up to you to scrutinise your options.

9. Background Check

Relocating to a new country can sometimes involve paying hundreds of thousands of rands in fees to your future government. If you’re nervous about parting with a large sum of cash, there are companies that offer background checks (on individuals and companies) for your peace of mind.

10. The Gut Test

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, trusting your intuition is the next step forward.

 

The UK is a favourite destination for South Africans choosing to emigrate. Find out which UK visas you may be eligible for by completing this free online visa assessment from Move Up.

 

 

Media Exposure

Cape Town Etc – Choosing an Immigration Agency

All 4 Women – Emigrating? Do you qualify for an ancestral British visa? Find out here

Christmas tree decoration with british red bus
Christmas tree decoration with british red bus

16 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the British Tradition

If the names Shakespeare, Jane Austen, J. R. R Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Queen Elizabeth curl your toes, you’re probably an Anglophile – someone with a soft spot for Britain, its culture, history and traditions. For the Anglophiles who also love Christmas we’ve compiled some very British traditions for you to add to your celebrations this year: all you need to decide is which ones you’ll be making your own.

1. VISIT THE UK’S BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAYS

The first tingles of excitement for Christmas can officially begin when cities switch on their magical Christmas lights. If you’re planning to head over to the UK before the end of the year be sure to take a night-time stroll through at least one of these spots, which local Britons claim are the most enchanting displays to visit. (Don’t forget to call on Move Up UK Visa Solutions to take care of all your visa application needs before you go…)

EDINBURGH: George Street
LONDON: Regent Street & Oxford Street
LEEDS: Victoria Gardens
GLASGOW: George Square
MANCHESTER: Albert Square
BELFAST: City Hall
BRISTOL: Cabot Circus

2. UGLY CHRISTMAS JUMPERS

Join in a more modern British tradition and make sure you’re kitted out with an immensely ugly Christmas ‘jumper’ (jersey) this December. London office Christmas parties are legendary for awarding prizes to the person sporting the ugliest Christmas jersey – an accolade people are strangely proud of – and retailers have really leaned into this trend, making ugly Christmas jerseys rather easy to come by. You can get on board this bizarre British trend by visiting www.fruugo.co.za or just buy a kit and make your own.

3. LETTERS

Here is some good news for those of us who have lost faith in the Post Office… Many children around the world write letters to Father Christmas in the days leading up to Christmas Day, but British folk never post them. Once the children have written a letter to Santa Claus they are thrown onto the fire, sending the ashes up the chimney so that Santa can read their contents in the smoke as it reaches his home in the North Pole.

4. CARDS & TREES

In 1846, the tradition of sending Christmas cards began in Britain – a whole five years after the first Christmas tree was displayed at Windsor Castle in 1841. Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, introduced the Germanic tradition of placing decorated fir trees in the house and only a few years afterwards, nearly every home in England had one. But do take note: according to British tradition, the decorations should come down 12 days later (on 5 January).

5. MISTLETOE

Often mistaken for an American custom, hanging mistletoe over a doorway is an even older British tradition associated with Christmas and is said to bring good luck. If you find yourself caught beneath the mistletoe with someone, consider this due warning that you’re expected to kiss them. Just make sure you get caught on the threshold with a romantic interest and not your cousin… For easy online shopping for modern Christmas decorations and table settings, try the Woolworths online store.

6. CAROLS

In the UK it’s common for groups of singers go from house to house collecting money for charity and singing traditional Christmas songs. Three famous British Christmas carols to try out are: Good King Wenceslas, The Holly and The Ivy and We Three Kings.

7. FATHER CHRISTMAS

British children don’t open their presents on Christmas Eve. Father Christmas brings their presents in the night after they are fast asleep, then they open them on the morning of the 25th. Many Britons leave a little treat for him too – usually brandy and a mince pie and not the American substitute of milk and cookies. Why not up the ante by trying best-selling, British cookbook author, Nigella Lawson’s recipe for star-topped homemade mince pies.

8. STOCKINGS

Rather than hanging stockings on the mantle above the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of their bed hoping they will be filled by Christmas morning. It might be difficult for ‘Santa’ to fill without waking the little ones, which is perhaps why American parents changed the location…

9. CHRISTMAS ‘DINNER’

In Britain the most important Christmas meal is a big family dinner on 25 December, but you’d be mistaken if you assumed Christmas dinner was eaten at night-time. A traditional Christmas dinner in the UK is served at midday or early afternoon. During UK winters, it’s dark by 4pm in the afternoon, which might explain the unusual timing of the main celebratory meal. A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner is roast turkey with carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and gravy, often served with sausages and bacon too. The traditional Christmas dinner dessert? A flaming, fruity, boiled Christmas pudding served with brandy butter, of course! Try it before you knock it. Take a look at famous British chef, Jamie Oliver’s Christmas trimmings recipes for some real English recipes.

10. CRACKERS

A Christmas cracker is a cardboard tube, covered in pretty Christmas foil and twisted at both ends. Originally from China, Christmas crackers reached Britain in the nineteenth century. Shaped like a large sweet, each person crosses their arms, using their right hand to hold their own cracker and pulls their neighbour’s cracker with their left hand. The crackers then break open with a bang, spilling their contents on the table and floor. Standard crackers usually contain a small plastic toy, a (lame) joke to be shared at the table and a folded, paper crown. These days you can buy luxury crackers with more expensive, high quality contents – and, hopefully, better jokes!

11. CROWNS

Folded up in each Christmas cracker is a different coloured paper crown made of tissue paper. Everyone at the table dons their crowns, adding to the festive atmosphere. The paper hat was added to crackers in the early 1900s and the tradition continues today. (If you don’t believe us, just watch Bridget Jones’ Diary again and see which British Christmas traditions you can spot…)

12. WASSAIL

Wa-what? Wassail is an Old English word that literally means ‘good health’ or to ‘be healthy’, but in this case it’s a hot, mulled drink. It’s served like a hot cider, but it can also be made with wine. Traditionally it was topped with slices of toast as sops (a piece of bread to soak up the liquid), but luckily that has gone out of style!

13. ROYAL CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

The tradition of sending out a Christmas message to the public began in 1932 with King George V. These days Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, gives the royal address on Christmas Day at 3pm from Buckingham Palace, in England. South Africans can watch her address via the BBC channels or later on the The Royal Family YouTube channel. Get a taste of the Queen’s Christmas messages by watching her 2017 address.

14. TEA

Christmas tea usually rolls around by 6pm and is the second sit-down session with family and delicious holiday treats. Mince pies or sausage rolls might accompany the tea party, but instead of serving Lipton, which apparently some Brits turn their noses up at, for a fancy British alternative try finding PG Tips – a tea brand that originated in the UK in the 1930s.

15. A BRACING CHRISTMAS DAY WALK

At a certain point on Christmas Day in most British households, someone will get cabin fever and decide that they’ve been inside too long, forcing everyone to put on their winter gear and take a brisk stroll to the local park or countryside. (It is also tradition for children to moan about this every year). If you’re in South Africa for Christmas, however, at least you’ll be able to go for a walk in the sunshine and in shorts.

16. BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE

A 2016 poll of British folk revealed that Love Actually (2003) is their favourite Christmas movie. The all-star-cast chick-flick was voted the winner in a survey of over 1,500 people, beating nineteen other much-loved Christmas movies that made it into the top 20. Written by Richard Curtis, who was also behind movies such as Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), the movie tells ten interlinked stories of love around Christmas time, featuring some of the UK’s favourite actors: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly, Martin Freeman and Colin Firth. However, when you choose watch this Christmas flick is up to you.

 

Coverage from the media:

All 4 Women Blog

IOL Travel

 

 

Bigger Price Tag to Relocate to UK Come December

LONDON: The United Kingdom (UK) government is set to double the immigration health surcharge (IHS) on 1 December 2018, making it even more expensive for South Africans to relocate. The surcharge allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as UK citizens.

“While individual applicants for the UK’s increasingly popular ancestral visa are currently required to pay £1,000 (about R19,000) upfront to cover their 5-year settlement period, come 1 December 2018 they will need to fork out £2,000 (about R38,000) for the same IHS,” says Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions experts, Move Up.

“This radical cost increase could be a barrier to South Africans being able to afford to immigrate to the UK,” he adds.

Rennison says the company has seen a 22% increase in South Africans interested in relocating to the UK over the past two years. He lists the strength of the pound sterling, access to cheaper travel opportunities, a high-functioning government and political stability as the main reasons South Africans cite for wanting to leave. Better job opportunities, increased earning potential and access to better education for children are other factors at play in most people’s decision to move.

UK Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said that while the government welcomes long-term migrants using the NHS, it is a national, not international health service. According to Nokes it is right that immigrants make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.

“The extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class health-care system,” she says.

To assist ancestral visa applicants to beat the IHS price hike, Move Up is offering an expedited service for ‘last minute’ cases lodged between 1 – 20 November 2018. Applicants specifically wanting to avoid the massive IHS price increase will be able to do so at a 40% higher case fee, while cases lodged up until 31 October will still fall under Move Up’s highly competitive standard rates. Applicants are also urged to try Move Up’s free birth certificate assessment to prevent delays around visa applications.

For more information regarding UK visa applications, visit www.moveup.co.za or call 021 761 4608.

 

ENDS

 

Contact Anago Marketing with your public relations, marketing and media needs. 

Marrying Mr Darcy: Practical Tips for Wedding an Englishman

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” – William Shakespeare

While it is incredibly romantic, getting engaged to a foreigner comes with some practical challenges. Many South Africans don’t realise that being able to live – and work – in the same place as your British spouse can be a long and rocky road if you aren’t properly informed.

Sibs (29) recently got engaged to Robert (32) – her long distance boyfriend in Manchester, England. They spent their 2-year dating period taking extended holidays to visit each other every few months after neither could get working visas, which would have allowed them to live in the same city while dating. “We spent months investigating our options before getting engaged, because the rules around spousal visas can be tricky,” says Sibs.

“In SA, when you marry a foreigner they aren’t allowed to work right away unless they already have the correct visa and, astonishingly, it can take a very long time to get a spousal visa. In this economy that is a huge strain for most couples who rely on a dual income to get by,” she adds.

If you have fallen for your own Englishman (or woman), we’ve put together a handy guide from the experts to help ensure you live happily ever after – as soon as possible.

 

1. GET MARRIED IN SA

“While it’s tempting to believe that a marriage registered in the UK will make your UK settlement visa easier to obtain, it’s simply not true,” says Ryan Rennison, director of SA’s favourite UK immigration visa specialists, Move Up.  According to Rennison, South Africans can have a difficult time getting permission to marry in the UK, while settlement visa applications with a marriage already registered in South Africa are better received.

Leading local immigration lawyer, Craig Smith, says that for couples wanting to reside temporarily in South Africa, Home Affairs offers a temporary spousal visa granting foreign applicants permission to live in the country for 3 years with work, business or study endorsements.

“The downside is that, if not married, a spousal visa can only be applied after the relationship is proved with 2 years’ worth of financial evidence of sharing resources. If you are married then you are not required to produce financial evidence and can immediately apply,” he adds.

Couples married or in a permanent relationship of 5 years or more can obtain permanent residence: Smith recommends that applicants apply for the spousal visa and permanent residence concurrently. While standard South African permanent residence can take up to 2 years to process, with extreme cases taking even longer, elevated interventions like court visits can reduce delays.

 

Insider Tip:

The advantage of marrying someone from the UK is that their spousal settlement visas are usually processed within 3 months. This means Sibs and Robert can easily begin the first few years of their married lives in Manchester, with the option to apply for Robert’s South African spousal visa after 5 years.  Visit www.moveup.co.za for expert assistance with your UK settlement visa applications.

 

2. SAVE MONEY

Another factor to consider is cost. Recently relocated from Cape Town to London, former wedding planner and Lovely Pretty wedding blogger Kelly Hartmann says a South African wedding is far cheaper to host than one in the UK – and prettier too, “A South African wedding offers unbeatable views and a range of world-class suppliers who create Pinterest-worthy weddings – all at comparatively cheap pricing.”

 

Insider Tip:

Don’t forget that it’s also cheaper for UK-based wedding guests to visit South Africa than the other way around. Visit www.saweddings.co.za for wedding venues and accommodation to suit your pocket.

 

3. APPLY FOR YOUR UK VISA AFTER THE WEDDING

The UK’s Home Office has put strict procedures in place to prevent fraudulent marriages from happening.  Applying for your settlement visa from your country of residence is one of the rules.

“Settlement visa applicants should take note that they cannot change their visa status while in the UK – they will need to travel back to their country of residence to apply for the new visa” says Rennison. “From that perspective it makes sense to apply for your UK settlement visa as soon as possible after your wedding in South Africa,” he adds.

Insider Tip:

Getting married on paper (legally) in South Africa three to four months before your ‘white wedding’ will allow you to apply immediately for a settlement visa so that you won’t have to be apart for even one day come the honeymoon.

 

4. GATHER EVIDENCE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP NOW

Along with application safeguards, Home Affairs (SA) and the UK Home Office will (immediately or down the road) require significant proof of a monogamous, long-term relationship.

Claire (32) met and married a British citizen in Cape Town, moving to Scotland with her husband a few years later. They were required to produce documentation proving they lived at the same address (e.g. utility bills or homeloan statements in both their names), date-stamped pictures of them together and even a paper trail of email correspondence and transcripts of WhatsApp messages to one another.

“On chatting to friends in the same position we discovered that, for some couples, even sworn affidavits from friends confirming the authenticity of the relationship are required,” says Claire. “The bottom line is that the sooner you start collecting this information, the better!”

Insider Tip:

What most couples don’t know is that as the foreign spouse you have to earn above a certain amount to qualify for the visa. Visit the UK government’s website for basic settlement visa information.

 

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Further coverage of this article:

Love is… Bruidsgids & Wedding Guide Blog

All4Women.co.za

W24 – Drum Magazine

5 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Christmas in London

While you may think it’s too early to start planning your Christmas break, if you’re hoping to pop over to London in December and you’re on a budget, now is the time to start. Even though we can’t guarantee you’ll get snow, we can help you squeeze every ounce of value out of your stay.

 

1. VISAS

Even if you’re only going for a few weeks, the United Kingdom offers a standard 6-month tourist visa to holiday-makers. There is a significant amount of documentation you need to supply, so make sure you apply for your visa approximately 1 month before your departure to allow for enough time for the visa’s processing and any unforeseen ‘whoopsies’.

Insider Tip
For assistance with a smooth UK visa application process visit Move Up (www.moveup.co.za). They can assist with all UK visa types and even promise a money-back guarantee.

 

2. CHEAP FLIGHTS

You may have to fly economy class, but here’s how you can economise even further on your flights. December and January are considered ‘high season’, which means flights are in demand and can be sold for higher prices. The golden rule of savings on flight bookings: the earlier you buy your tickets, the cheaper they’ll be.

Insider Tip
www.kayak.com and www.rometorio.com are 2 of our favourite websites for finding low-cost international flights. (Pssst! Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are usually the cheapest high season days to fly).

 

3. HOME SWAPS

Who says you have to pay through the nose for overseas accommodation? Remember watching the romantic Christmas movie, The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Dias? If you own your own home or your landlord doesn’t mind you subletting, you might consider doing a house swap this Christmas. Just sign up, pay a registration fee, create a profile, browse your options then get in touch with the owners. If you can’t find a perfect date match for a swap, you can always spend some credits on a one-sided arrangement. Check out www.lovehomeswap.com for some exciting options!

Insider Tip
You can also sign up to be a house- or pet-sitter and stay overseas – for free! This option also requires registering with your preferred website, paying a registration fee and finding a suitable match.

 

4. TRAVEL LIGHT

Next to flights and accommodation, your daily transport costs can make a big dent in your budget. Hiring a car for all-day sightseeing outside of London will give you some independence, but the beloved oyster card will be your most useful asset within the city. An oyster card allows you to travel on the underground, overland trains or city busses without the hassle of carrying cash. Just purchase and top your oyster card up at your nearest train station, then tap it on the designated spot as you pass through the turnstiles or step onto a bus.

Insider Tip
We can’t decide which is more useful: the Citymapper app that compares London travel routes, methods and prices; or Rick Steves’ Audio Europe app for top-notch, guided walking tours of London.

5. ENTERTAINMENT FOR DAYS

The oldest centre of culture in the English-speaking world, from quirky restaurants and jaw-dropping art exhibitions to the world’s best theatrical productions, in London you’ll find a variety of entertainment, tours and museums to tickle your fancy. Make sure you watch at least one of these celebrated productions: Wicked, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Lion King or Mathilda. Entry-level tickets start at approximately £25 (R500). Book early to secure your spot.

Insider Tip
If you head to Trafalgar Square at 13:00 on week days you can take in a world-class classical music concert held at St Martin in the Fields. There’s no entrance fee, but they do accept donations towards maintaining their beautiful, old church. See their concert schedule.

 

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More Coverage of Our Media Release for Move Up:

All 4 Women

IOL Travel

 

 

 

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