One of the attractions of selling to schools is that all one has to do in order to get a sale is work through four steps.
First, one needs to have a offer that teachers find exciting and interesting, available at a price they feel is reasonable.
Second, one needs to grab the teachers attention, so that instead of deleting the email without reading it or throwing the letter straight in the bin, they look, they skim it, and then they settle down to read it more fully.
Third, one needs a list - either of postal or email addresses and then fourth one needs to be able to send the communications out, either with a bulk sending program for email or a warehouse that can fill and despatch the envelopes.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3. And four.
Which raises just one point: what happens if you are not fully geared up to undertake one or more of these four steps?
Fortunately, there is no problem, because if you are missing one or more of these four elements then I think I may be able to help you - not least because Hamilton House has three different companies that sell to schools. And for each of these companies we work through these four steps.
Thus we are experimenting all the time, changing our practice and refining the theory of how selling to schools works. Better still, we are always happy to share all our knowledge with you.
Indeed no matter which part of the process you’d like help with - we can certainly help. And we give advice without charging a penny.
But there is more, because we always have other offers available.
For example, if you have never tried our personal email lists before we’ll give you a 30% discount on your first order.
Alternatively, if you are willing to let us choose the date when your email will go out in the next two weeks (and excluding weekends), we’ll give you a 50% discount.
If you want us to design and write your email for you, we’ll do that free of charge if you are using our personal lists. If you have your own email sending program we can let you have a list of almost all the primary and secondary schools email addresses for £59.95.
There are very few restrictions on these offers - but there is one, which is that they can’t be combined. So if you want us to do the free writing and design of an email for a campaign, you can’t also have the 50% discount. Sorry about that, but even the world-famous generosity of Hamilton House has a limit!
There are details of all our various email lists on www.emails.gs - just look down the left side to find the particular type of list or service you want.
And here’s a final thought: supposing you would like help through the whole process - having us writing and designing, using our lists, having Hamilton House send out the emails, and making use of our knowledge to edge up your response rates all the time.
That’s certainly possible, and it is all done at a huge discount on the prices for individual work. There are details here.
However, with so many options available maybe the best thing is simply to call us on 01536 399 000, tell us where you have got to, and we’ll make suggestions on what might happen next. There’s obviously no charge and no obligation, and we’ll come up with lots of ideas.
After all, the unknown will always be boundless.
If you get these three factors right when emailing schools you are bound to increase your sales dramatically.
You may have noted me say before that if one wants to get really good responses to one’s advertising to schools one needs not only to have a product or service that teachers want, but one also has to consider three other vital factors.
Indeed, for many companies it the way they approach these three factors that makes the difference as to whether they sell a lot or very little.
So, without more ado, here are the three factors…
First, one needs an advert written in a way that grabs the attention of those who see it. After all, if you don’t grab attention, then no one is going to look at the advert, and so no one is going to buy.
Second, one needs a good personal email list in order to make sure that the emails reach the right person.
And third, one needs a delivery system that gets the advert to the teachers without them being stopped by interception filters.
Of course, if you have all three of these factors sorted out, then you are ready to sell your product or service to teachers straight away and you should be able to gain considerable sales.
But we recognise that in many cases we have customers who perhaps don’t have one of these components or who wish to experiment by using different lists or having a different creative approach. And so we have come up with some options.
One solution we have offered for a while is the Velocity service in which we can write and design your emails and send them out to teachers using our personal email lists.
Then when you wish to try a different approach you can take over the writing and design - and in this way get more emails sent out each month, but without any increase in price. Velocity is described on www.velocity.ac
If you want to have one or more emails written and designed for you without being part of our Velocity monthly contract programme we can do this free of charge when you choose to email any of our personal email lists.
These lists are detailed on www.emails.gs - just click on secondary or primary on the left hand side to see the lists available. All prices include transmission.
On the other hand, if you have no need of our writing and design skills and you have a little flexibility over the time of despatch, we can give you a 50% discount on any of our personal email mailing lists. Again there are details on our www.emails.gs website - click on the Stand By option.
With Stand By the emails will go out within two weeks of receiving your email and your booking - and they won’t ever go out at weekends or in school holidays.
But that’s not all. For whichever system you choose there is the option of a further 10% discount if you choose to pay before the email is despatched.
Probably the best way of considering all these options is to call 01536 399 000 and talk through the possibilities in relation to your own product or service. Or alternatively email Chris@hamilton-house.com and we’ll come back to you with our suggestions.
The lowest cost way of sending personal emails to secondary school teachers just got even lower
Personal emails are one of the most successful ways of reaching teachers in schools - the email goes directly to the inbox of the individual teacher and tends to get an immediate reaction.
We have over 70,000 such email addresses of secondary school heads of department, which are selectable by the subject the teacher teaches or their specific area of responsibility in the school. So you can choose The Head of Music or The Senior ICT Technician, etc, etc.
However, such emails do normally cost more to send than generic emails (the ones that go via the school administrator) simply because of the cost of the research involved in building such lists.
But there is a way around this which in effect reduces the price of sending personal emails by 50% - rising to 60% in some circumstances.
If you want to book in a personal email and tell us exactly the date you want that email to go out, then yes, you will have to pay the full price.
But if you can give us two week’s lee-way then in return we will give you a 50% discount on the price. And we will also guarantee not to send the email out during the school holidays or at weekends.
(And don’t forget, if you have heard stories about some days being much better than others for sending out emails - call us before you act on them - they are not always true! We update our research on response levels against date of transmission regularly - and the results are surprising.)
The system works like this: you book in your email with us and send in either your HTML advert or the text you want to use, and we’ll schedule it at some time within the two weeks from the date of receipt of the advert. We will, of course, let you know when it is scheduled.
Then once the advert has gone out we will issue the invoice in the normal way. Or if you prefer you can have a further 10% discount by paying for the promotion when you send your email in.
Secondary school personal emails normally cost 12p each including transmission. Under the stand-by service they are just 6p each. With the pre-payment discount they are just 4.8p each.
There is a full list of all our secondary school personal email lists at http://emails.gs/Secondarynamedlist.html
Don’t forget, the two week count-down starts from the moment we receive your email. However if you want to check how busy our schedules are before you send your email in, you can do this, by phoning 01536 399 000 or emailing Chris@hamilton-house.com
When marketing to schools, how much impact does the design have on your response rate?
To give a short answer to the question above, everything matters. The product and the offer matter (in that you need to be offering a product that teachers want at a price they are willing to pay), the text matters, and the design and layout also matter.
However, the problem is that quite often it is easy to focus a lot on one or two of these elements (such as the offer) and to forget exactly how design and layout can be used to generate extra sales.
So one sometimes finds advertisers that can be quite good at creating layouts that look nice, but which don’t positively impact on making teachers buy this, rather than that, product or service.
Such a lack of focus has been enhanced by the tradition of A/B testing in which you send out two emails, or two leaflets, so that some schools selected at random get the A approach and some get the B.
This notion has led some people to believe that which leaflet or email works best is not predictable in advance - but this is not the case at all. In fact it is normally possible to predict exactly which design and offer will work best - as long as one knows what makes one design work better than another.
By way of example, let’s consider the shared postal mailing, which I mentioned in my last post.
When we started shared mailings over 30 years ago, our first job was to get more and more administrators to open our packs, and we achieve this by printing a letter from the School of Educational Administration (the school administrators’ association) on the coversheet - a letter which often offers something free. That gets them reading!
Having got the pack open, the next thing to ensure is that your leaflet is passed on to the relevant teacher by the school administrator. This is achieved by using an A4 leaflet and placing the phrase “Attn: Head of….” in large letters top right, with white space around it.
Experimentation then found that designs which have a headline of about 15 words in 14 to 16pt Arial bold about 7cm of the way down the page, surrounded by white-space, got higher response rates than others. (If you want to know why, give me a call!)
And then we found that if the headline suggested that the page offered some knowledge that would be of great help to the teacher or manager, but dealt with an issue which the administrator could not make a judgement upon, that helped best of all.
This knowledge of how the design, the text and the offer combine on the page is vital, for it can move a leaflet from having just one or two enquiries to 40 or more from a mailing.
Our next postal shared mailing to 5000 secondary schools goes out on 28 April, and as part of our “3 Media” programme comes with a free personal email campaign and a listing on the UK Education News website. We are also able to print the leaflet for you for just £20 if you wish - please call for details.
We’ve still got a couple of places left for this mailing - but it will be worth calling quickly to secure your place. This is, as I mentioned in my last note, the term in which academy schools use up their money while LA schools have access to their funding for the new school year.
Because of the growth in the number of pupils and students at schools in the next academic year it could be a particularly important moment to advertise.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Tony AttwoodFollow us: @HHMailings
Advertising that your products are cheaper than anyone else’s can seem like a good idea, but can also have unexpected results.
It is always tempting to announce that one has a product that is cheaper than one’s rivals, and indeed there’s no doubt that sometimes this can work. But it is an issue that needs to be approached with caution, as it is as likely to backfire as it is to work.
As I have often mentioned in my weekly pieces on the writing and designing of adverts to schools, selling on price has all sorts of drawbacks, particularly in the way the seller is perceived. Indeed our research with the School of Educational Administration and Management has shown a strong move away from cheapness as a way of choosing suppliers in recent years.
I thought of this today because, as I was preparing this note about our forthcoming shared postal mailings to schools (with the usual free extras), I received several copies of an email put out by one of our competitors suggesting that they were cheaper than us.
Now since Hamilton House never advertises itself as the cheapest, this wasn’t much of a concern. Indeed, as we focus on working with clients to generate ever higher response rates, it isn’t much of an issue at all.
But I thought I would mention this because one does see occasionally leaflets to schools in the postal shared mailings which focus on the advertiser being the cheapest in the market for a particular product or service.
My view is that if anything, the more expensive suppliers can benefit from price comparison adverts since for every person who buys cheap, there’s another who asks “why is this so cheap?” (What’s more, in the case of our competitor, their adverts gave our name and so anyone who saw it without knowing who we are, now at least has seen the name.)
On the other hand those people who know us will immediately have noticed that the comparison was rather misleading as it wasn’t comparing like with like.
So my view is, when advertising to anyone, and in particular when advertising to teachers, be it through websites, personal emails or the post, claiming to be the cheapest quite often doesn’t work very well. I wouldn’t recommend it.
But to return to my theme, we have a shared postal mailing on 28 April to secondary schools, which comes with a free personal email campaign to any of our lists, a free listing on UK Education News, and our print your leaflets for £20 offer.
It isn’t the cheapest at all, but it does focus on generating responses by working across three media (post, email and website).
Also, if do you want to talk about the text and design - that’s always available for free. And indeed I’d say talking about text and design before it happens is always important, because through talking you’ll know if the writer and designer really understand what makes one design and one set of text work, while another fails. The “why does this work?” is always the key question.
The price of the mailing is £360 to send one leaflet to all the schools with sixth forms and £450 to reach all the 5000 secondary schools. To send two leaflets the price is £435 for schools with sixth forms and £575 for all secondary schools.
And to be clear, if sending two leaflets they don’t have to be to the same teacher - although when weighed together they have to be under 15g or else there will be a small surcharge.
So no, we are not the cheapest, but through our experimentation we have found out what it is that makes one promotion work and another fail. Quite simply, success is enhanced by:
If you want to read more details about the shared mailings, there are details on www.shared.org.uk
If you would like to talk, we are on 01536 399 000.
But if you want something really cheap, no it’s not us.
Tony AttwoodFollow us: @HHMailings
Schooling in Britain is in a state of total transformation and advertising to schools needs to change with it.
In June last year it was revealed that one in eight pupils in primary schools in England were being taught in classes that are bigger than the government's statutory maximum size.
Two years ago it was predicted that London's primary school population would expand by 25,000 a year for the following four years. Subsequently it has become clear that this is a serious under-estimate.
Meanwhile, the number of pupils in secondary schools is exploding, caused in part by a growing population and in part by the raising of the school leaving age to 18.
And at the same time we have a major decline in the number of qualified and experienced teachers available in our schools.
This decline in teacher numbers was initially kept at bay by the decision of the government to allow unqualified teachers to teach in academies and free schools, and the employment of around a quarter of a million unqualified teaching assistants.
Meanwhile individual subject areas have suffered huge declines in teaching numbers, and this has been reflected in a decline in teaching hours.
A survey six months ago found the average number of minutes of PE offered to children in England had dropped to well below two hours per week, in defiance of promises made to use London 2012 to ‘Inspire a Generation’ of youngsters to become more active.
Figures like this are everywhere. Take a subject or a year group and you can find articles everywhere about the decline in the number of teachers available. But - and this is the key point - one should never assume that the schools are doing nothing about this.
Of course, if you don’t have a teacher who knows how to teach PE it can be dangerous to carry on with the lessons. If you don’t have anyone who plays a musical instrument in the school it is hard to teach music.
Yet schools carry on, mostly by being innovative. Whether it is by using computerised systems to help teach specific subjects, through devising ways of teaching large classes, or in any one of many other ways, they are innovating and coping.
And this is where the opportunity lies. If one starts out by remembering that four out of 10 teachers quit within a year of qualifying, and record numbers of those who reach their 30s or 40s then quit, one starts to see the crisis and starts to pitch one’s product as the solution.
To see this from a different perspective consider this...
Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, recently said Ofsted was now “a weapon of fear and terror”, an organisation “plagued with quality control problems” and a “credibility chasm” with the teaching profession. Its judgments were “a nonsense”.
Such talk shows that schools are now fighting back, working around what Bousted called “monitoring to within an inch of its life,” and by-passing bizarre new regulations in order to be able to cope.
So what does this mean to the likes of us - to the people who seek to supply schools with goods and services?
In reality I think it means that this is our moment of greatest opportunity. Mary Bousted compared the exam watchdog Ofqual to a fundamentalist sect and said, “Like all fundamentalists, Ofqual is not prepared to engage with debate and uncertainty. It is not, indeed, prepared to engage in debate at any price. It ignores the concerns of subject experts, subject associations, teachers, employers – who argue that the qualification reform is travelling smartly in the wrong direction.” Surely in such chaos, as suppliers of services and goods we ought to be able to offer schools new solutions.
Certainly what is happening is that schools are by-passing rules and regulations that are increasingly perceived as irrelevant, and looking to find new solutions.
Teaching materials that are aimed at unqualified and inexperienced teachers are now highly sought after, as are materials that operate independently of teachers. Anything that allows the teacher to cope in this crisis arena, in which government bodies are compared to fundamentalists and government departments to weapons of fear and terror, is wanted and welcomed.
Thus this is the time when radical changes to the advertising of education products and service can and will work. That doesn’t mean that suddenly doing something radically different with your advertising can instantly bring in huge sales, but it does mean that this is the moment to try some experiments to find what works in the new environment.
Just think, if you were a senior manager in a school and you knew the person teaching the classes was unqualified and unprepared, and that at any moment a bunch of people with limited or zero teaching experience were going to come in and crucify the school with their commentary, you’d want systems in place to help those teachers who despite doing their very, very best were struggling.
This is in short the biggest opportunity in a generation for the innovative producer of educational resources.
If you would like to talk through quite how you can respond to this challenge, please do call Hamilton House on 01536 399 000. If you would like to know what we do there is a summary on www.hamilton-house.com And if you have a specific question or issue, please do email Tony@hamilton-house.com
Tony AttwoodFollow us: @HHMailings
As schools are changing dramatically so marketing to schools takes on new forms
The summer term 2015 will probably go down as one of the most dramatic in the history of selling to schools for, as I have mentioned before, not only are the normal events associated with the summer term happening, but there are great changes now coming on line.
The “normal events” of course refer to the moment when LA schools start their new financial year and the time when the Academies wind up their buying for the year.
But this year, the dramatically rising school population is meaning that many schools are expanding, adding new classrooms and growing their facilities.
Which is why this is the moment that we have chosen to develop further many of the programmes that we have been running for some time.
In particular we have the expansion of the Velocity programme in which we undertake the promotions for a wide range of companies selling into schools.
Most companies that join us in Velocity start by asking us to write and then email out three promotions a month. These adverts might be going to different teachers, or might be promoting different products or selling one particular product in different ways.
After each promotion we analyse the open rates and click through rates, comparing these with expected levels, and then link this data to the sales that are achieved.
Through this approach we can tell which bits of the marketing process need to be amended, and we then arrange for these changes to be put in place to the advertising including, if need be, changing the landing page, adjusting the language of the advert, etc.
But it is important to say that at each step, having made the proposal, we don’t make any changes without our client's agreement.
However there is another approach. Some companies like to move straight into writing their own advertisements, while others prefer us to do the writing for them initially and then take over the writing themselves after two or three months .
This second approach, known as Velocity 5, allows you to write your promotions (or indeed re-use promotions that we have previously written) and send out five promotions a month - without any increase in costs.
Such an approach can be particularly helpful if you do have several teachers to promote to or a number of different products to sell. Certainly we don’t recommend sending the same advert over and over again - this is an approach which is aimed at ever changing advertisements.
The cost of this approach to Velocity, whether it is three emails a month written by ourselves or five written by you, is £495 per month, which for Velocity 5 means that the cost per email on a secondary campaign using our personal email lists is 5p each. (For campaigns to primary schools it is far lower.)
And here’s another bonus - both with Velocity 3 and Velocity 5. For if you want us to provide you with an HTML advert (as opposed to a straight text advert) to go out to the schools, we can do this within the price.
And of course if you have any enquiries about Velocity, please do call 01536 399 000 and press option 2 to get straight through to the Velocity desk. Or email Laura@hamilton-house.com
Tony AttwoodFollow us: @HHMailings
Education in the UK is undergoing a massive change, which means education marketing needs to respond - and quickly.
Here’s a simple rule that I learned on the first marketing course I ever undertook. When the market changes, so the marketing has to change.
And schooling in the UK is changing dramatically - and will continue to do so in the coming year. Which is why so many companies are now changing the way that they approach schools with their products and services.
The next term, leading up to the summer holidays, is going to be fundamental, both because it is the first term of the new financial year for LA schools and because it is the last term of the old financial year for academies and most independent and free schools.
But there is more, because the changes that we are seeing in education are continuing to escalate, and their impact will be even more widely felt in this coming term.
Many schools will grow in size once again in September, which means that not only are they busy providing new accommodation, but they are also buying in new equipment and resources which will be used to teach the children.
And, of course, those purchases will be made between now and July, which is why advertising to schools is so vital at this time.
These dramatic changes in schooling require changes in the way we advertise to schools which is why, in addition to the three programmes that Hamilton House has offered for several years, we are now introducing a new programme to allow you to approach the new situation.
You’ll possibly be familiar with our three existing programmes:
So what’s new?
What’s new for the new term is Promotion Plus. This service is for companies that are already undertaking regular advertising to schools and now want to go further, adapting what they do to the new educational environment.
It includes such activities as analysing who your customers are (are academies more likely to buy than LA schools, do you sell more via deputy heads or heads, etc), reviewing your brand and image, and working on such additional services as trial postal mailings, developing a blog, etc.
What’s more, if you don’t already have an email list of individuals who have bought from you or enquired from you in the past, we’ll help develop one (even if they are reluctant to hand out individual email addresses).
We can also provide email lists of contacts who have clicked through to your website from an email promotion and work to change your advertising, once the first flush of respondents has dried up, so that it always stays fresh and ahead of the game.
But this is just the start - in the next few days we’ll have the full details of all the options we’ve developed with our customers in the past year on our website, all gathered together as part of Promotion Plus. Although if you want to know more in the meantime, do call us on 01536 399 000.
I’ll write again after Easter with more information, but for now here is one final element. We are also expanding our design facility, so if you want to have Hamilton House design and produce your HTML email advert for you, we can do that. You just provide the graphic/s and we’ll do the rest.
Again, do call 01536 399 000 if you would like to know more now, but otherwise do have a look at our next announcement on how you can develop your education marketing alongside the changes that are happening in schools in the coming term.
Tony AttwoodFollow us: @HHMailings