Not a “Mad Man”

When I work with entrepreneurs, I often find that they are unclear between what a marketer does (understand markets, customer needs, competitive dynamics, value propositions, feature/functions, pricing…..I could go on and on) and the classic work of a copywriter (puts marketing messages into consumer language, has the artful turn of phrase, delivers memorability etc).

I tried for a Madison Avenue job the summer between my first and second years in graduate school… luck.  Finally some kindly Mad Man actually told me that I was too analytical for them.  Hmm, I’m not sure he meant that in a good way?

But is this idea even relevant in the era of social media?  I could run a client’s Twitter feed or monitor a Facebook site as long as I was clear on the tone we want to set and what the ground rules are on what can be shared.  Isn’t that copywriting at some level?  And if we are blasting emails out, I can write or, at a minimum, edit those emails?

In the giant collapse of marketing staff, I bet more and more of my types are doing copywriting….because there is no staff, no budget and no time.  But is that a good thing?

As you may know, I’m just back from a wonderful trip to Tunisia and thought I would take a turn at “copywriting” why travelers should consider Tunisia.  Let me know how I’m doing!

Maybe this career option could come back around?  Maybe a client would trust me with their 140 word Twitter feed?


Classic reasons, new reasons, and fun reasons for visiting Tunisia

For me, the classic reason to visit Tunisia is to see the Roman ruins.

The Roman ruins are stunning in Tunisia!

I love the chance to immerse myself in the ancient world, especially that of the Romans since we know so much about the Romans and their times. Seeing the pyramids in Egypt is tremendous, but the time of the Egyptians, for me, is in the ancient and mysterious past. With the Romans, I read Julius Caesar’s diaries and I read Virgil’s Aeneid. Aeneas flees Troy and makes a fateful stop in Carthage on his journey to Rome.

So, a chance to come to Tunisia is a chance to see Carthage, a great capital of ancient times and the land of Dido, Aeneas’ great love. I should digress here and say that this is according to Virgil, the great Roman poet. History may differ slightly (or significantly), but we remember Dido from Virgil as a great leader of her people in Carthage and the “woman Aeneas left behind” to fulfill his destiny to found Rome. One of the most important women of the ancient world.

And in Tunisia, you can visit Carthage, where, like Rome, there are layers upon layers of history. The Romans destroyed Carthage at the end of the Punic Wars but you can still see their Carthage via the great baths, the harbor and the water tanks.

The Roman baths in Carthage are fascinating to see!

You also see the large cathedral built by the French and the American Cemetery in honor of World War II. Pivotal World War II battles were fought in Tunisia by the most important generals of the North African campaign: Patton, Rommel, Montgomery.

If Carthage is today the glamorous suburb of Tunis and not really a major archeological site, you will not be disappointed with the fantastic archeological sites in Tunisia where you can walk down the streets of Roman cities, see temples, baths and brothels. I thought Dougga was fantastic – a wonderful Roman city out on a hillside. And Sbeitla – a Roman city out at the edge of the Roman empire. And even beyond that, a Roman outpost in the Sahara. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be assigned that duty as a Roman legion?

Tunisians were Rome’s exquisite mosaic artists whose work is seen many places in the Roman world but is completely fantastic in Tunisia. The Bardo museum is the world’s greatest collection of mosaics of this era. The day trip to El Jem is fantastic not only to see the largest amphitheatre in North Africa but also the lovely museum there of mosaics both indoors and also in outdoor settings. There is a wonderful recreation of a Roman villa.

Surrounded by mosaics at the Bardo

But the new reason to go to Tunisia now is to see democracy as it has a chance to break out in the Middle East. Tunisia has a more secular orientation than many of its neighbors and was the original starting point of the 2011 democracy movements still rumbling across a good swath of the Middle East. These events will be seen for years to come as one of the definitive events that shaped the Middle East in the early 21st century. Being with Overseas Adventure Tours  (OAT) means that your guide will give you an excellent window into how events are unfolding at this crucial time and other OAT activities such as meeting with the Iman in Kairouan and the family lunch will let you hear it from the horse’s mouth on how people are feeling.

Tunisians have a lot to say on Libya and Gaddafi. And, while the war between the Gaddafi and rebel forces was well underway when we visited, I felt entirely safe. Tunisia had only thrown out its own leader less than 90 days before I went to there, but Tunisians were basically back to the regular events of daily life. I truly believe that OAT has its ear to the ground and will make the right choices to make sure you avoid any unwelcomed events along your itinerary. I found Tunisians open and friendly, often asking me in French how I was doing, smiling and waving when I did the same.

A day will come again when tourist numbers are once again very large because Tunisia is lovely and the people are friendly. To make it even easier, French is widely spoken with signage around cities in both French and Arabic. Road signs are excellent – a very travel friendly place. But go now because it is always special to be at the front of the wave. Go and see the ruins and the mosaics before everyone else comes back.  And take comfort,  I was able to be in touch with the States via wi-fi in hotels we stayed in – allowing me to assure the less seasoned travelers that I left back home! (In fact, our guide set up Internet calling even for those who were less tech savvy.)

You’ll never be sorry that you went early and saw Tunisia at its fork in the road. Where will current events take Tunisia? I can’t say. But over the next year or so, you have a window to see Tunisia through a fascinating current events lens and out ahead of the typical tourist onslaught. I think they call it O-Adventure-T for a reason. Take advantage of that reason if you really are an Adventure traveler – which OAT makes easy. When I tell people I went to China in 1985, they are pretty jealous because China makes a great trip today, but it’s not that China – the China just emerging from the Cultural Revolution.

Thirdly, we had a great deal of fun. Two of our group dressed up in traditional Berber wedding costumes and we “celebrated” their wedding. We belly-danced with a gorgeous belly dancer.

Our whole group got up and danced!

We rode on camels and in caleches. We watched a guy climb up a date palm tree in bare feet to pollinate that tree. We slept a night in the Sahara and saw a night sky full of stars. The evening before we sat around the campfire with a Bedouin and talked with him about his life. We saw the latrines at Dougga (and they did look like it). We learned some amazing things about sheep breeding and happened on a live demonstration with young shepherds. Oh my! We went to some Star Wars filming sites and then really understood as we drove in the remote countryside what struck Lucas about Tunisia. Heck, we were in Tataouine, home of Luke Skywalker!

On Jimmy, my camel

Don’t miss the chance to see a country that has been an incredible crossroads of history for 2,500 years. Don’t miss the chance to see a country that is at a profound crossroads in its history right now. If you really are an Adventure traveler, this is the place to see in the fall of 2011.

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