Why bother with Velocity now?

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Posted on 30th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What possible benefits can there be to joining the Velocity programme during the school holiday?

In fact the benefits for any company that sells to schools of joining the Velocity programme in August are huge. Of course, different companies tend to focus on different parts of the service but perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that if you are signing up now to Velocity the service is free until 1 September.

So what do we do in August?

First, if you are not active in social media we can get your company up and running with its own blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Teachers, although not at work, will still continue to stay in touch via social media in the summer, and additionally we can do all the development work needed to ensure everything is fully organised before the schools return.

Meanwhile, if your product or service relates to specific days in the school calendar such as A level day or GCSE day, we can ensure that promotions go out at that time to the right people – all at no cost to you.

We can also undertake promotions to Australia and New Zealand schools if that is appropriate plus Nursery schools if you have products for them, and can ensure that (again if appropriate) you are advertising to schools in Scotland and N Ireland when they return in August – long before their counterparts in England.

Finally, if you are working with us in August we will be able to ensure that you get the email advertisements that you want, on the days you want, in September. We restrict the use of our email lists to avoid teachers becoming over-burdened with emails, and as a result some of our lists can get booked in advance. So being able to book the slots you require early on is a bonus.

Velocity is a very flexible programme which allows you promote regularly to schools for way below the normal market rate, plus get the benefit of the analyses of the Hamilton House team.

To give an example, you might undertake a promotion and find you sell x number of goods as a result. The question immediately arises, how could we sell twice as many next time around?

In order to answer this one has to have various pieces of information available as a result of the first campaign, and know how to interpret them and use them.

You will want to know whether we could get more people to buy by changing the email advert, or whether we should be changing the web page that readers are sent to after the advert. We need to know whether headline x or y is best with each teacher we reach.

Quite often the answers are complex, but it is our job to analyse them and present them to you with our recommendations. So we might be saying, “when we advertise to teacher x we need headline y and offer z, but when we advertise to teacher a, we need headline b and so on.”

All this information emerges during the course of the advertising we do for our clients – and a significant part of our job is to evaluate it and create adverts that reflect what we have learned.

Indeed that is a key point within Velocity – minor changes to an advert can result in major changes to the level of sales. One just has to know how and why.

Most companies on the Velocity programme start with a campaign in which we send out three emails a month for them – each one written in a different way in order to maximise interest.

Once we have established which approaches work best, many of our customers move over to four adverts a month – two written by Hamilton House, two by them. There is no increase in cost, even though you are getting more promotions.

Velocity can include much more – we gear it to what each of our clients require. For example, undertaking research to find out what products schools have purchased in a certain subject area, or what areas of a particular topics are causing them problems, can be enormously helpful. These can be scheduled into the programme at no extra cost.

There is more about Velocity on our web site. Or, if you would prefer, please do call 01536 399 000 and ask for a member of the Velocity Team. But please do remember the free period only runs to the end of August, irrespective of when you join the programme.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tony Attwood

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The school events this summer

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Posted on 27th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Significant new discounts for summer promotions

The days of schools being shut for the summer are very much a thing of the past. Now, many teachers go into school, some schools stay open throughout the whole holiday, and many more teachers read incoming emails on their mobile devices throughout the holiday period.

This year Hamilton House is offering a new and significantly low price for all email campaigns going to schools.

Between now and September 5, all emails that we send to schools using our personal lists will be charged at just £75 per list.

Thus if you want to get to the personal email address of the head, the head of music, the bursar, the head of maths, the site manager… in each case sending out an email to the personal list will cost you just £75 plus VAT.

We will, of course, continue to limit the number of emails that reaches each teacher, and if you are thinking of mailing in relation to one of the key days of the summer it might be worth booking in sooner rather than later.

The main key dates are 13 August (A level results announced) and 20 August (GCSE results announced).

If you would like to see all the lists we have with personal email addresses for secondary school staff they are here. The price of £75 remains the same irrespective of the number of teachers on any particular list.

As nursery schools remain open at this time our list of 5357 nursery head teachers is also available at the same price during this period.

We will also be announcing special rates for postal and emails to Scotland and N Ireland, (where the schools return on 17 August) shortly – but please call if you are interested in reaching Scottish schools at this time. There are approximately 3500 schools in Scotland and N Ireland.

For more information please do call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

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If there are any aspects of running an office or warehouse when selling to schools that you don’t like, you could easily get rid of them.

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Posted on 23rd July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

None of us likes everything that our business does. You might love warehouses, but not like answering the phone. Or maybe you hate the fact that you can only take your holiday when the schools are on holiday, for fear of missing orders.

But there is a way around this. For you can pick and choose any aspect or aspects of your business that you don’t want to handle, and simply hand them over to Hamilton House, and we’ll run them for you.

In fact you can go the whole hog and run your office and warehouse facilities without the expense of taking on office and warehouse space. We’ll answer the phone, send out the goods, collect the money…

In short you can invite Hamilton House to take over any aspect of your business you don’t want to do. So if that is invoicing, that is what we take over. If it is stock control and warehousing we do that.

And the key to it all is that we only charge for the work we do.

The service can be tailored to your exact needs – so for example we can hold printed or other materials for a set amount of time, we can answer your phone in your company name when you are not there, we can issue invoices for you, hold stock, despatch goods…

Some companies use this service just occasionally, to cover a particular eventuality, while others ask us to take over the whole process, including writing and placing the adverts, fulfilling orders, ordering up new stock, etc, etc, in return for retaining a percentage of the sales income.

You may find it helpful to start with a phone call to our offices on 01536 399 000 to talk these matters through, but if you are interested in specific prices for a limited range of office jobs those details are here

If your particular interest is in warehousing you will find more information here.

Tony Attwood

Free marketing between now and 30 August

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Posted on 20th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Six weeks of free writing, research and marketing

July and August are times of significant levels of activity in marketing to schools for firms that tend to do well in September.

So, to help out companies that are considering joining the Velocity Marketing programme in September, we offer to do all the marketing, writing, analysis and preparation that needs to be undertaken in the summer between now and August 31, for free.

Now, I know (because we have made this offer in the past) that it is possible to think that this is not much of an offer. After all, what is there to do in August if one sells to schools?

The answer is that there is a huge amount – and we can undertake some of this work with you at no cost, if you do decide to join the Velocity programme.

1. Emails during the summer

Increasingly teachers are reading messages that reach their personal school email address during the holidays. They will pick them up on their mobile devices and consider them during their non-teaching time when they have more time.

But additionally it is possible to email schools in Australia and New Zealand if you are selling anything that can be delivered on-line. We’ve a considerable amount of experience in reaching these markets, and the southern winter is an ideal time to experiment.

2. The analysis of current adverts and their responses, etc

Not every advert works – but even adverts that don’t work as well as hoped can tell us a lot, giving us an idea of why that advert does not work and how it needs to be changed. Was it the way it was written, the people it was sent to…

Once one knows what works and what doesn’t, one can make steps forward by changing the approach.

3. Setting up Twitter and Facebook pages

Many companies still don’t have Twitter and Facebook pages, or have accounts which are hardly used. But these are free services, so really should be exploited, and the summer is an ideal time to get these services established.

4. Reviewing the past, devising a strategy for the future

You know what you sell, and who should be buying it, but the strategy determines how that selling point is reached. There are hundreds of ways of going about getting a sale and it is vital that everyone is clear on the strategy being followed. We’ll do a free detailed report on your website and advertising to date, so that you can decide if you want to make any of the changes we recommend.

5. Booking adverts for September so they get the slots they want

Because we limit the number of emails we send out each month, our email lists for September get filled up very quickly. But we always give priority to our Velocity customers so that they can get the emails they want. This is highly beneficial because the Velocity contract normally includes a number of free emails each month – but we need to book them in early and get the copy written.

6. Setting up blog pages or devising a strategy for a blog campaign

Blogs are phenomenally powerful when used in the right way – indeed one of our blogs is now getting over a million hits a month. But blogs take time to set up, and the summer months are an ideal time to do this.

7. Rewrite of landing page if needed

Imagine a scenario in which you have been sending out emails and getting people onto your website, but still you find you are not getting as many sales as you would like. That means the web page is not working and needs re-writing. Another perfect activity for the summer.

Overall you can pick from this array of work, and have it tackled for free by the Hamilton House Velocity team if you sign up to our Velocity programme now. There will be no payments to be made in July and August, and your only commitment is to be part of the Velocity programme in September and October.

The cost of Velocity varies, but the most common approach involves us writing and sending out three emails for our clients in each month.

There are more details on Velocity here.

But if you would like to talk through how the programme works just call 01536 399 000 and ask for a member of the Velocity team. Alternatively, email Jenny@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

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Success in selling comes from thinking ahead

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Posted on 16th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The companies that will be getting significant sales from schools in September are the companies that are taking action now

Many schools in England and Wales finish their academic year some time around 21 July and return for teaching around 3 September.

And if past years are anything to go by, some companies will even now be contemplating a nice rest until mid-September on the grounds that “the schools are all shut”, while others will be planning and indeed executing a strategy that will ensure the orders come rolling in once schools open.

One of the great benefits to the few companies that do take the summer seriously is that most firms don’t, meaning that as a result of this inaction by the majority, the few who do have a summer strategy get an extra benefit.

(Now I know that if last summer is anything to go by, I will probably get an email or two saying that the last point doesn’t apply because I’ve told everyone about the need to act in the summer so everyone will be doing it. Their belief in my power of influence is a great compliment, but sadly not reflective of the truth. Only a few act in the summer no matter what I say. Although that doesn’t stop me saying it.)

The key point about the summer is that apart from the general fact that most teachers now receive emails to their personal school address on mobile devices and so can read informative emails and visit websites to ponder which products to buy at any time they wish, there are a number of events that are also worth noting during the summer. Here are a few:

Throughout the summer: schools in Australia and New Zealand remain open of course – it is their winter. Likewise nursery schools remain open (but get very few emails, because most firms just think “summer = no one there”).

13 August: A level results published. Heads of Sixth Form and Careers Advisers are on hand to help students, and some HE establishments will mail and email these teachers with information about new courses and opportunities. Some, but not all, which is odd.

17 August: Scottish and Irish schools return – but because most companies promote across the UK, they get very little post and email until the bulk mailings start again in September.

20 August: GCSE results arrive. All students in England must continue with some form of education until the age of 18.

2 September: Many schools in England and Wales return. The problem here for companies that think, “time to start promoting again,” is that they are already so close to deadlines that they can miss out. For example, this date is also the deadline for submission of artwork if you want us to print your material for the first postal shared mailing of the new term.

The other problem at this time is that many of our email lists will start to get filled up by now. Of course, the answer can always be, “We’ll find another company to send out our email in that case,” but it is always worth seeing if the company you find has a limit on how many emails are sent out to a teacher in a week. If they don’t have a limit, you might well find that yes, you can be accommodated, but the teacher is getting so much, your email won’t stand much chance of being seen.

9 September: Printed material is needed for the first secondary shared mailing.

Of course there are many other points I could make – but the main message overall is, don’t take it that nothing happens in the summer and that it can all be left until September.

One final reminder – from now until 31 August all our personal email services are available at half price. There are details of them here:

Secondary school managers and heads of department, personal email addresses

Primary and nursery school managers personal email addresses.

Please do call 01536 399 000 to discuss your specific requirements, or indeed to have a chat about life, the universe and all that stuff. No horseman will call.

Tony Attwood

Tony@hamilton-house.com

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Free marketing to schools

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Posted on 13th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The most effective way of undertaking free marketing to schools in the next academic year is to take action now.

If you are not certain whether your product or service is going to sell in large numbers to schools, and if marketing budgets are singularly tight, then the approach that is most likely to appeal is the Payment by Results service from Hamilton House.

Within this service you provide an advert which we can send out to teachers via email. At the end of each month you simply tell us how many sales you have had, and then pay us a commission at a rate that has been previously agreed.

This service was introduced some three years ago, and since then hundreds of companies have registered with Payment by Results and many have been earning significant sums as a result. Indeed at the most successful end we have a PbR client who got well over £50,000 worth of work in one year as a direct result of being part of the PbR programme.

For the start of the new school term in September we have vacancies within PbR for products and services that can be promoted to heads of most subject departments in secondary schools, as well as the schools’ bursars, business managers, site managers, etc.

We also have vacancies for promotions to overseas schools, special schools, and nursery schools. But to be clear, we don’t have any spaces for promotions to primary schools or to heads or deputy heads in secondary schools.

Now it is at this point, that people ask, “what’s the catch?” And of course I am going to say that there is no catch – but there is a point you should note.

Hamilton House limits the number of emails that it sends out each week in order to avoid having schools object to the volume of items we send them. However within that schedule we often have spaces which have not been sold either to our clients who buy individual email campaigns or who have a regular marketing contract (known as Velocity) with us.

Thus we fit PbR adverts into those unsold slots. We can’t guarantee when your email will go out, but we can say that we will be able to send out the emails on fairly regular intervals. And, of course, we have a vested interest in making the promotions work since we get a commission on each sale.

If you feel that PbR could be for you, I would urge you to get in touch now rather than leave it until next school term. It does take a little while for us to review the possibilities of each product we are offered.

What’s more, contrary to popular belief promotions sent to schools during the summer holidays can work – either by getting immediate sales or by placing the notion of a product in the teacher’s mind. In the latter case the teacher then is reminded of the product when the second advert arrives, and thinks “oh yes I meant to order that…”

To open discussions about Payment by Results marketing please email my colleague Steve Mister Stephen@hamilton-house.com and send him details of the product or service you are offering, including information on the price you charge and the teachers who normally buy. If you have a copy of any advert you have been sending to schools recently please do attach that as well.

And, if at all possible, please do get in touch sooner rather than later so that we have time to get everything in place before the new term starts.

There is more information on Payments by Results on our web site

Tony Attwood

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Why the schools will be busy this summer

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Posted on 9th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

As schools expand to cope with rising numbers, there are significant implications for companies that sell to schools

In ten years time there will be 900,000 more pupils and students in state-funded schools in England than there are now – and that growth has, of course, already started. Numbers are rising this September and will rise constantly through the next ten years.

This growth is the equivalent to around 30,000 complete new classes. By the end of the decade of growth that will work out at around three classes for the average secondary school and one class for the average primary.

Every school currently with vacancies will be filled, new “temporary” classes (which are not in fact temporary at all) will spring up in playgrounds, and schools will begin to invest in ways of teaching larger numbers within schools that simply have no more space.

But that’s not all, for there’s another problem adding to the mix. There’s an ever growing teacher shortage.

As new jobs for graduates slowly begin to emerge in the general economy, teaching becomes less attractive (given the government’s desire to hold down salaries), and competition for teachers grows.

Figures from employment agencies handling teachers suggest there were around 1000 vacancies in November 2014, which was a third higher than 2013 even though the number of teachers in the country (around 456,000) was at an all time high.

That situation will get worse. In terms of teacher numbers as a nation we are already running on empty.

So what does all this mean for companies that sell to schools?

The opportunities in all sorts of areas are growing. For example, the simplest way of dealing with a shortage of teachers is through an increase in computerised teaching and marking, and double shifts – with some children attending in the morning and others in the afternoon, and more work at home.

Thus if you have a product or service which helps in this changing environment, now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to sell it.

And that is where we come to the essence of selling to schools. Simply announcing a product is not the best way forward. Instead one needs to explain the benefit one’s product or service gives in this new, developing situation.

In terms of creating and distributing your advertising there are two ways forward. The first is to continue advertising over the summer, undertaking occasional emails, preparing pages on your website, building your presence on social media. As usual in the summer holidays our email lists are offered at half price. Details are on www.emails.gs

The alternative is to consider joining Velocity. Within the Velocity programme during the school holidays we can help launch your social media presence, write and transmit emails on our personal email lists for the many teachers who pick up their emails on mobile devices during the holiday, promote to schools in Australasia during the English summer, review your landing page, prepare your adverts for when schools return…

And better still, we will do all that for free. If you sign up for Velocity as a new customer between now and 1 September, we will work for you at the normal level – but without charging you. Your commitment will be to stay with us through September and October. We naturally hope that you’ll find what we do worthwhile, but that will be the limit of your commitment.

Velocity normally costs £495 a month, and aside from all the social media and other support work, involves writing and sending out three emails a month each to one of our various lists as shown on www.emails.gs (You can send out more, if you write the copy yourselves).

There are more details on the Velocity site or, if you would like to discuss this in more detail, please do call 01536 399 000 and ask for a member of the Velocity team.

Tony Attwood

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The reader vanishes

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Posted on 6th July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Why the notion that an email should sell your product can actually reduce your sales to teachers

Most advertisements that reach teachers cut to the chase before they have even started. They tend to push straight into the idea that here we have a product, here are the details that will show you that you really should buy it.

And that’s that.

The problem is that most of the time this doesn’t work. Or if it does work, it works at a lower level than the alternative approach.

The alternative approach focuses on grabbing the teacher’s attention, and then getting the teacher enthused about the notion of the benefit that the service or product brings.

In this approach, which is invariably much more effective than the direct sale approach, there is no need to push all the details of the product – instead you have to enthuse the teacher with the notion of the benefit.

All the details of the features, the price, and everything else can be placed on the web site or in the brochure. If you put them in the advert you just clutter the advert and it is that clutter which stops the advert working.

In short the reader is getting all the information in the wrong order. It should be “grab attention” and “why should I buy this?” (with a really, really, good strong positive answer) long before the details.

So the message is, if you ever feel yourself thinking as you write, “but we’ve got to tell them about…” stop, and think instead about the teacher reading the email.

The teacher is in a hurry – you have about one second to grab attention and enthuse the teacher, and encourage the teacher to keep reading.

Then, if you succeed in slowing the teacher down, you will get the teacher to give you another few seconds – maybe 10 seconds. But if, on the other hand, you have already taken up that first second with a load of stuff about the detail, then you won’t get to the next 10 seconds. The reader vanishes.

So, when you’ve written your first draft of the advert, just look at it and think, what is there here that will make the teacher think, “I must read on”? How am I stopping the teacher who is busy and in a total hurry?

It is, I must admit, quite a difficult art to perfect, and like any art form (from playing the piano to dancing sublimely, from drawing with pen and ink to writing a popular song) it is tough work to get it right.

There are however two ways forward. One way is to study the art and science of writing a promotional copy. If you want to spend a fair amount of time on this you can read my series on creativity, the psychology of perception, and how to grab the teacher by the neck and not let go. It starts here – just read it article by article, and do the exercises as you proceed.

The other approach is to join Velocity. In this programme we can write your emails and sales letters, (and if you wish blogs, landing pages, Facebook entries and Twitter feeds) and then over time you can take over writing them – comparing your response rates with ours. It is probably the most sophisticated approach to marketing to schools ever introduced.

There is more about Velocity here.

Or if you want to talk about the issue of raising response rates in email and postal marketing to teachers, do call 01536 399 000. Or again, if you prefer, email Tony@hamilton-house.com

No horsemen will call.

Tony Attwood

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A 10% discount on (almost) everything with Hamilton House

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Posted on 2nd July 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

If you like us on Facebook we’ll like you back in a most practical way: with a 10% discount.

We like to think that our Facebook page is well worth reading not least because all the articles Hamilton House publishes across a whole range of direct marketing topics are summarised in one place, with links to each individual article.

Plus we also put up interesting information about issues relating to the schools’ market, reflecting on the key issues that teachers are thinking about. If you are selling to schools that information can often be quite a helpful reference to drop in to make the advertising seem even more relevant to the teacher.

But now we are going further. In fact, a lot further.

For whether you are buying a shared postal mailing, an email list, a web page listing, or anything else, we’ll give you a 10% discount on almost everything you purchase in July as long as you do just one tiny thing for us.

All that we ask is that you “like and share” our 10% discount post on the Hamilton House Facebook account.

You’ll find us at Facebook.com/hamiltonhousemailings, or simply type in Hamilton House Mailings in the “Find Friends” box top left on Facebook.

But I did say “a discount on almost everything” and you will be wondering about the exception. After all, some advertisers can be quite pesky with their hidden terms and conditions.

So to be upfront and overt: the one tiny exception to our 10% discount is postage. We can arrange to get massive postage discounts for you through using our postal service – but we can’t give a further 10% discount on the discounts.

Just to be clear on what this means on postage, if you buy a second class stamp it costs 54p. If you have a franking machine or ask Hamilton House to post under 4000 items at one time, the cost is 36p. If you use Hamilton House and post over 4000 items at a time it is 24p. There are of course some weight and size issues, but these prices apply to C5 items weighing up to 100g. Please do call us on 01536 399 000 for more information.

But now back to the July discount.

To obtain that 10% discount off everything (except postage), all you have to do is write and tell us your Facebook address, and let us know that you have liked and shared Hamiltonhousemailings, and that you you would like your 10% discount. Just indicate this when you place an order and the discount is yours.

But I would add, even if you are not buying this month, I do hope you’ll have a look at our Facebook page which really does cover a huge amount about direct marketing in all its forms, with additional information on direct marketing into the education market.

Tony Attwood

Tony@hamilton-house.com
Phone 01536 399 000

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Boosting sales through July

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Posted on 29th June 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

July is a prime time for selling to schools, and we’ve several ways of helping you ensure you get more of the orders being placed.

For many companies July is one of the key months of the year for selling to schools. Perhaps the key selling month. Indeed, many firms report that the last few days of the summer term are the most vital of all.

The reason is that many teachers find they have extra time available in July because of GCSE and A level classes being on exam leave, while some classes are absent on school visits, preparing to move to the new school, and so on.

And, of course, there is also the need to prepare for September. Academies are using up the last of their 2014/15 money and placing orders to be paid for from the 2015/16 budget, while LA schools now have their new budgets in place and are starting to spend.

To help at this time of year we’ve several arrangements and offers on our email services that really can help you make sales in July – and at the start of next term.

We regularly offer a 50% discount on our emails to teachers’ personal addresses, to companies that allow us two weeks to send out their advert.

For July, that discount rate is available if you allow us just one week to send out the email once we have received your copy.

This reduces the price of personal emails direct to secondary school teachers to 6p each and 4.5p each to primary and nursery school teachers. Better still, if you want to email all of the 5000 largest primary schools, we have a special price at this time of 3p each.

We won’t send your email at weekends or in the last week of term. If you want to go ahead email Chris@hamilton-house.com with your booking.

It is also still possible to buy our generic list of school email addresses for you to email out yourself. There are three selections available – 28,000 primary and secondary schools (£59.99), all special schools (£25), and 7300 nursery schools (£45). Details and some notes on sending out emails via your own program are available here.

Finally, don’t forget also that we have our downloadable sample copy grid for emailing schools, along with an also downloadable analysis of how and why our copy is written in a specific way. That is available here.

If you have any questions please do call 01536 399 000. We are mostly harmless and as always guarantee that no horseman will call.

Tony Attwood

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