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In the end, it's the sales that count

What is the biggest danger when trying to generate
more sales to schools?

We all of us sell to schools through technology.  We use computers, develop videos, personalise emails and sales letters, set up web pages, track people who visit our website but don’t buy…

But, there’s a problem.

Because all this exciting work can look very pretty and seem very attractive, but it bypasses the key issue. And that is the issue that has beset anyone selling anything since the first caveman made an axe he didn’t need and then offered to exchange it for an extra slice of mammoth.

It is the separation of technique from result. The separation of technology from actually making the sale. It is the asking of the question that some of the IT gurus hate you asking. That one, most annoying question:

“Does it get me more sales?”

Because Hamilton House operates three companies that sell to schools (First and Best, the Dyscalculia Centre and the School of Educational Administration and Management), we are able to create approaches, test them out, and judge whether each new tactic works or not.

And it is because we have the Velocity programme through which we work very closely with our clients, analysing out the results of each and every promotion, that we can see if the results we have got are replicated when they advertise.  If not, we ask why.

Thus we test short copy against long copy. We test web pages with videos against web pages without. We test emails that are nothing but text against emails that are highly designed.

We test links put at the start against links at the end. Then we test three links against having just one link, and we test links at the start and the end with… well you get the idea.

Finally, when we get the results, we ask ourselves why. Why is it, for example, that, on average, highly designed emails (often called HTML emails) get worse results than text only emails?

Why is it that, generally speaking, personalisation either makes no difference to sales rates or actually reduces sales, click throughs and the like?

Why is it that (again generally speaking because there are always exceptions, dependent on what you are selling), videos reduce click throughs and sales?

And yes, we do find answers.  Videos reduce responses, we believe, because teachers hate other people dictating the pace of a presentation. They want to make up their mind, in their time, at the speed they decide. They are literate, they want to read.

Personalisation has no effect because everyone knows that personalisation is a mechanical device. It has a negative effect sometimes because some people get sucked into an advert by the personalisation and then feel they’ve been tricked.

HTML reduces response rates because, as the recent School of Educational Administration and Management research showed, most schools have a default setting on their email systems not to reveal pictures. So the ads are simply not seen.

And so on, and so on.

Selling to teachers – indeed selling to anyone – is not common sense. There are always dozens of issues behind the way that we see and react to advertisements, and it is these issues (which are revealed by the scientific study known as the psychology of perception) that determine sales.

This is why we offer companies the chance to discuss their adverts and websites with Hamilton House free of charge. You don’t have to be a Hamilton House customer to benefit – just email across the advert or a link to your website, and we’ll have a look and call you back or email you back – as you wish.

The results we give might well be radically different from what the salesman who told you to use personalisation or install a video said – but at least we will give you a view backed up by some detailed reasoning, analysis and logic.

This is also the service that our Velocity clients get. They don’t have to listen to us, of course, and many of our Velocity clients create their own adverts.  But if they do get a poorer response rate than they expected, they know they can call us, and we’ll give a detailed analysis and review to explain what has happened. 

Plus they get the offer of us creating the next advert so we can see if our approach gets a higher sales level.

There is more about Velocity on our web site and there is a review of all our services on our home page. Or you can email Chris@hamilton-house.com or call 01536 399 000.

We are mostly harmless, and by and large quite friendly. No horseman will call.

Tony Attwood



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