How can you sell to anyone if you don’t know how they think?


Posted on 29th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The first rule of successful marketing to schools is having a product that teachers want at a price that they are willing to pay

The headline above means that the first question we all have to ask is, “do I have a product or service that teachers want at a price they are willing to pay?”

Obviously if you are successfully selling into schools then yes you do. For example, if you are successfully selling via trade shows but can’t sell via an email campaign, the issue is not with the product but with the way the emails are written and/or the list you are using. The marketing has been done – you are now down to the advertising.

But if nothing brings in the sales, does that mean the product or service can’t sell? Does that that mean it is time to give up?

The answer is very strongly, no. The issue is to find out a little more about the attitude of teachers to the area that your product or service deals with. Then you change your marketing and advertising to start from their current views and to build from that point outwards.

Quite how this happens is different in each case but invariably it involves:

  1. Finding out what teachers think about the issue that your product or service deals with through a very simple questionnaire
  2. Thinking of some sort of change that can be made to an offer in order to make it fit with what the teachers want.
  3. Looking to see what other firms are doing, and ensuring that your advertising really singles yourself out from the rest.

Now that plan may seem incredibly simple, and yet it is something that a large number of firms never do. Some argue that all research is useless because research can be used to prove anything. Others say it doesn’t apply in their case. Some say they tried it, and they couldn’t get the teachers to answer.

And yet Hamilton House carries out this sort of research week after week and through that research we transform the sales of our retail companies and those of our clients.

Let’s imagine that you are selling a programme relating to improving the behaviour of children in school. And we’ll add a detail – that your programme focusses on being a whole-school programme, through which all teachers should join together to administer the programme uniformly.

Now we are assuming that you have been advertising, and the programme just won’t sell. I’ll quickly go through what we would do.

First we set up a very simple questionnaire where we might ask questions like:

  1. Does your school have a written behavioural programme?
  2. Do all members of staff follow the same procedures?

If the answer is no, we’ll ask what sort of arrangements they do have, but if yes we would go on to ask:

3. Do you feel everyone follows it?

If the answer to that is “no” we’d be asking why not. If yes we would ask questions about whether the teacher feels it is working and if there are any areas that could be improved.

Now we are getting into the interesting questions – because the chances are that this product is mostly going to sell to schools that dont have a unified behavioural policy.

If they do have such a policy they might still be customers if the policy isn’t delivering. If they don’t have such a policy you can’t assume that you can simply announce your programme. You will need to know why not.

Now one possibity is that they feel that teachers are very independent and would never sign up to being told how to run such a policy. Another is that might feel that a unifieid policy is not a good thing. A third is that they might say that they’ve tried such a policy and it failed.

These answers – it won’t work here, it isnt a good thing to have, and we’ve tried it and it failed, are the regular blockages that we can all find to a sale. We just need to know which one applies.

Once you know that, for example, 90% of schools have a unified policy but over half of them have reservations or problems with it because many teachers don’t stick by it, then you know how to write your adverts.

If you find that only 20% have a unifieid policy with the rest believing that they don’t work, you know to write your adverts in a totally different way.

Thus you have a new approach. And you still have the issues of thinking of some sort of change that can be made to an offer in order to make it fit with what the teachers want and the issue of seeing what other firms are doing.

In my experience the overwhelming majority of campaigns that fail, fail because this basic research was not done.

Hamiton House undertakes this type of research for many of its Velocity clients as part of the Velocity programme. But of course there are also many companies who do their own research as a one-off with Hamilton House, using our experience and email lists to help them create research that will bring in the answer to their marketing issue.

If you would like to know more please call 01536 399 000 or else email with details of what you are selling.

Details of the Velocity programme overall are on

Tony Attwood

How come some leaflets get forwarded to teachers, and others don’t


Posted on 27th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The release of the information revealing which leaflets get past the school administrator and on to the teacher has encouraged a return to postal shared mailings.

I think it is fair to say that some time ago postal shared mailings were becoming less of a “must have” in education marketing. Many companies that had used them as a very low cost way of reaching teachers (mostly under 10p per teacher reached) started to move across to emails, leaving the postal shared mailing behind.

What’s brought people back was the publication of the report into what makes a school administrator pass on one leaflet and not another – and indeed what makes the leaflet work once the teacher has got it.

(Of course there is also the fact that for some shared postal mailings we give everyone in the mailing a free email campaign to the personal email addresses of the teachers they want to reach. With that you get both the low cost postal campaign and the free personal email campaign – a double hit.)

So postal shared mailings are back in fashion – and we’ve got three of some significance coming up. In each case the date given is the posting date. The delivery date for leaflets is given afterwards.

Secondary schools 4th November – the final postal mailing this term which gives all participants a free email campaign as well. Delivery by 28 October.

Primary schools 11th November – the final primary school postal shared mailing this term. Delivery by 28 October.

Secondary schools 18th November – the final secondary school postal shared mailing this term. Delivery by 11 November.

More details – including a link to our free report on the issue of how to get school administrators to pass on your leaflet to the teacher of your choice, are given on The Shared Mailings Site

If you want to know any more please call 01536 399 000 or email

For all the details and prices of the postal shared mailing please click here

Tony Attwood

Advertise to schools free of charge


Posted on 24th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

No long term contract, no complex accounting. Payment by results advertising to teachers means you simply pay a commission on each sale as a result of our adverts.

Payment by results advertising is now one of the most popular ways of reaching teachers throughout the UK, and in schools in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and parts of the USA.

Quite simply, you create your advert (or, if you wish, ask us to create an advert for you) and we email it out to relevant teachers. You might want the UK only – but if you want to reach teachers in other countries we can do that as well.

Then the replies come back to you in the normal way, you fulfil the orders, and at the end of each month just tell us how many sales you’ve had as a result of these adverts. We then invoice you for the previously agreed commission rate.

If the process is not successful, you’ve not lost anything. You’ve had no admin, no financial risk, nothing.

But you will still get something positive out of this, because we’ll give you a free report as to where we think the problem is. You don’t have to take any notice of us, but we’ve been in the business for over 30 years, so we know a thing or two about selling to schools.

On the other hand, if the process is successful you get your sales and just pay the commission rate that has been agreed at the start.

If the process is too successful and you feel you could get a better deal by paying for your advertising up front on a fixed rate, then you can stop the Payment By Results advertising and move across to paying for the advertising as you go.

But do remember that all you will ever have to pay is a commission that you agree on each sale. There are no advertising fees, no hidden extras, no complex admin, nothing like that at all.

Since we launched Payment by Results marketing in 2012, it has become our fastest growing service. Our PbR customers benefit from the use of our extensive email lists and our knowledge of what works and how it works, in selling to schools.

There is a little more about the service on our web site. If you’d like to give it a go, please email with details of the product or service, and a link to your website. We’ll come back to you with our thoughts.

Tony Attwood

Simple Advertising 1-2-3


Posted on 22nd October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the simplest way to create a highly effective advertising campaign?

Step One: You select the product or service that you want to promote. It might be something big or something little. Something plain, something fancy. A text book, an item of nursery school furniture, a computer program, a visitor centre…

Step Two: You set out the details of that product or service. Most likely you’ll already have these on your website or in a catalogue, so there’s nothing much to do here. Just find the page or the details.

Step Three: Consider any special issue you want to feature. A new upgrade, a special giveaway, free delivery. There doesn’t have to be a special feature (and indeed most of the adverts that go into schools don’t have such a feature), but you need to have it in mind if there is one.

Now you’ll realise that these three steps really are dead simple. You select the product, look up the details, think of anything special you want to add, and that’s that.

So what’s left?

Well, if you are a Velocity customer, nothing except sending the result of your 1-2-3 deliberations to Hamilton House. From that point on we write the email and send it over to you to check, and if you are happy, we then send it out to the teachers you want to reach.

Meanwhile, if we think the advertising could take a different turn, we’ll come to you with our suggestions for some research or maybe the results of an analysis of your competitors’ adverts, again with our suggestions. Or we might suggest that your landing page needs changing; if so, we’ll tell you why and if you agree, we’ll write a new page.

So really, apart from approving the copy, and later seeing the results, there isn’t much else to do at all.

Obviously, if you already have an advertising or marketing director in place, there might be the thought that you don’t need this sort of service. But there’s still a benefit to be had. We don’t have to write the emails for you or give advice. Instead we can send out more of the adverts you produce, using our lists of teachers’ personal email addresses.

Velocity really is as simple as 1-2-3. You just decide the product, send us your basic information on it, and tell us about any special feature you want. We do all the rest – and you just say “yes” or “no” as we go along.

(And just as a spot of assurance, people don’t often say no. Not because we are frightening people that you don’t want to have a row with. But rather because we really are rather good at what we do.)

There is a lot of information about Velocity Education on our website. But rather than read all about it you can, if you wish, call 01536 399 000 and talk to us to see how it could work for you.

If nothing else, we can most certainly take a lot of work off your hands.

If you have any questions that you want to put in writing, please do email my colleague Laura, who is head of our Velocity programme. She’s at:

Tony Attwood

Low cost emails to schools that can get significant responses


Posted on 20th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Email lists of nursery, primary, secondary and special schools with a new free report on how to enhance response rates

Generic email lists of nursery, primary, secondary and special schools represent the lowest-cost way of reaching schools, which is why they are so popular – and indeed why we sell these lists.

But such lists come with two problems. First you have to have access to a service which will deliver these emails to schools, and second it is important to adopt a particular way of writing the emails to ensure that the email gets through to the person you want and generates the sales you desire.

In terms of the service you use, we do suggest that you check with your service provider or the agency that you are using that you are clear to use this type of data in the volume you wish to send out. Some such services do have restrictions.

As to the way of writing which brings in the best results – there is a way that is proven to enhance the response rate. Indeed in experimenting with this approach we have at times had response rates from generic emails which rival personal email rates.

In relation to this Hamilton House has produced a report which is sent out free of charge with each list we supply.

If you buy one of our generic lists for your own use you can use the list as often as you wish, but it can only be used by yourself and your company – it can’t be sold or loaned on to or given to another company.

When using the list of primary and secondary schools, you can select schools by whether they are primary or secondary, you can select by county and by school name (so you can still do a random selection when testing an email or doing a split test).

All you have to do is drop the list (which comes on a spreadsheet) into your email transmission program and send it out.

  • The list of primary and secondary schools is available as a download for £59.99
  • Also available is the list of generic email addresses for 1450 special schools (£25) and a list of 7308 nursery schools (£45)

These lists can be supplied as a file attached to an email, without any extra charge, or on CD, with a £4.95 charge for delivery.

If, however, you would prefer to have Hamilton House send out the emails for you, we can do this, and full details are included on our Schools Generic Email Lists page.

For more information and to place an order please email or phone 01536 399 000.

There is more information about all our email services on

Half price emails or free emails


Posted on 17th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized


There is a way of sending out emails to schools for half the normal price – or even for free. But time is short.

In the coming weeks we have two separate special arrangements for emails which are available on a first come first serve basis – but they both need action in October.

First off, we are offering a 50% discount on all our email lists that we send out for our customers between now and the end of the month.

This applies to primary and nursery personal email lists, secondary personal email lists, generic email lists, overseas schools lists and further and higher education lists.

The reason for this discount is the school half term. And, as we have found before, half term can be a particularly good time for advertising to schools as teachers still read and take action on their emails but get far fewer emails (and so pay more attention!).

The only restrictions on this are that first, we still have space available (as always we limit the number of emails we send out) and second that we are able to send out your email by the end of October. The offer doesn’t apply to situations in which you buy one of our lists to email out yourself.

Second, we’ve another special offer coming up with a secondary school shared postal campaign in which participants can have a free email campaign at the same time.

This shared postal promotion goes out on 4 November and leaflets are required by 28 October. The free email campaign can go out at any time – and you will also get a free promotion in UK Education News

There are more details of the shared postal campaign and the free personal email campaign that goes with it on our shared mailing website.

If you would like to know more or talk about a booking please call 01536 399 000. Alternatively to make a firm booking email

Tony Attwood

In the end, it’s the sales that count


Posted on 15th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

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 or call 01536 399 000.

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

Tony Attwood

Why bother with new headteachers?


Posted on 14th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Newly appointed headteachers are often even more overworked than their more established colleagues. But they are also big spenders and recommenders.

Getting the attention of recently appointed headteachers can be difficult because they tend to be more swamped by their newly acquired administrative systems than those who have been in the post longer.

But they are also people who in some cases have more funding (although this does depend on the financial system they work under) and they are mostly people who feel the need to make changes.

Maybe not changes all at once, and not in their first month in the job, but changes which start to emerge within their first term.

We’ve offered lists of recently appointed heads for many years, but this year we’ve added an extra element to the service. If you buy one of our lists of recently appointed heads, you’ll not only get a wide range of data but you’ll also get a free email to the headteacher – in most cases using the head’s personal email address within the school.

As always, we’ve cut out most of the heads who have gained their position after having been acting heads at the school, and that gives us…

  • 336 secondary heads
  • 633 primary heads

Our data provided to you gives you the head’s name, school postal address, school email address, school telephone number, school funding system, number of children and (where applicable) the local authority.

The price of the lists with a licence that the postal address and email address can be used just once is 9p each.

If you want an unlimited licence for the use of the postal address and email address for one year the price is 27p each.

And, as mentioned above, you also get one free email to the personal email address of the headteacher, at any time you wish after purchase. You just send us either the text or an HTML that want to send out, and we’ll do the rest.

But let me add a further word here. As I noted at the start, these heads are even more busy than most heads. So you really do need to work at getting their attention. If you would like to talk through how to do this, or you would like to forward a copy of the email or letter you want to send out, we’ll give you all our thoughts and advice either on the phone or by email. That is another free part of the service.

For more information or to make a booking please call 01536 399000 or email

Tony Attwood

PS: Just one final thought. We don’t provide fax numbers for the simple reason that most schools have registered with the Fax Preference Service, meaning that they do not want to receive promotional and informative faxes. If you have some fax numbers of schools you have not previously dealt with, we would urge caution. Do call if you would like to know more.

Discount Friday: the new approach to emails


Posted on 10th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Curiously the day we find gives us a big response to emails is the day no one seems to want

If you read my occasional notes on direct marketing on Good Ad you might recall my recent piece on which day is the best day to email out.

Should you not want to click on the link and read the whole piece, I’ll give you a quick summary.

Because most people won’t consider emailing on a Friday, we have kept our servers running on Fridays by advertising products for our three companies: First & Best, The Dyscalculia Centre and The School of Educational Administration and Management.

And would you believe it – we’ve been getting exciting results.

But, the dominant thought continues – Friday is no good. Not because anyone I know has done any research into selling via emails on a Friday, but rather because everyone believes that Fridays are no good.

I think that the reason behind Fridays being good selling days is that people are looking forward to the weekend, and so welcome a distraction. They don’t want to start any new work, and they are not getting any emails in (because everyone believes that Fridays are no good) and so, they look in more detail at anything they do receive on a Friday.

Of course, just telling everyone that Fridays are good for you is not much use – everyone will believe we are just trying to sell some advertising slots that we can’t sell. So we have to offer an incentive.

And that incentive is now on the table: we’re going to make our secondary school personal lists available at half price on a Friday throughout this term.

Obviously this comes on a first come first served basis, and there is a limit to how many we can send out on a specific day, and of course we would not use one list twice on a day. So if someone has booked the Head of Maths, for example, for a specific Friday, then that’s it, it has gone.

There is a list of all our secondary personal email addresses on our Emails website. If you want to check on availability please do call 01536 399 000. But please do note, we normally need to receive the copy to be sent out one week before transmission date. If you want to email in a booking it is

Tony Attwood

Free advertising to schools


Posted on 8th October 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Free advertising to schools: the latest options and opportunities

The free advertising service from Hamilton House (through which you only pay us according to the sales you make) has a number of vacancies at present..

We only take on a limited number of clients for this service, and we don’t have opportunities in every field. In particular we can’t at the moment take on any more advertising to primary schools.

But we do have spaces for secondary school adverts in certain subjects, and we do find ourselves with a specific vacancy in the area of keeping school roadways, pathways and the like free of ice and snow.

If you provide such products to schools – or indeed if you have them in your range among other things – and you would like to have them promoted to schools without it costing you anything, please first of all take a look at our Advertising For Free web page.

Then if you think it could be of interest, please email or call Stephen on 01536 399 000.

Obviously there is no commitment on either side at this stage – just have a chat with us, and then if we all feel it could work, we’ll come to an arrangement on what commission we might get for each sale produced from advertising via Hamilton House.

If your product is something other than relating to ice and snow, and it sells to secondary schools, we’d still like to hear from you, but in this case, please write in the first instance to

Tony Attwood