The total guide to selling to schools

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Posted on 29th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What exactly do I have to do in order to
sell successfully to schools?

In the end selling to schools comes down to a series of points – and all of them have to be met for the sale to work. In short summary they are:

1. Do you have a product or service that schools want at a price that they will pay?

The answer might be yes, because you know they are buying it from others or because you think they ought to want it – but one way or another you need to be sure. If you are not sure, a little research among the audience is needed.

This is usually done with a simple questionnaire to relevant teachers, often sent through our subscription service (where teachers subscribe to receive our emails). It is not a question of “if this were available would you…” but rather “Do you buy this?” “What type of supplier do you use?” “How often do you buy this?” “If you are not buying this what are you doing?” That sort of thing.

It gives you a feel for the market place, rather than asking about your particular approach, and can be enormously helpful in getting the answers you want as to why your product is not selling well.

2. To write successful adverts you need to be well versed in being creative – which is not something that we can all switch on or off.

I believe almost all of us can be creative writers, just like we can all learn to dance or play the piano or put on a credible performance on stage, but like any other skill it takes practice. Most of us can ride a bike, but we need to practise quite a lot at first before the everyday easy skill arrives.

If the writer of your adverts has had no tuition in creativity then you might like to read some articles on the topic – starting here And above all you need to take time. It really cannot be turned on without having done it before. Allow plenty of time to practise.

3. After that the creativity has to be applied to the particular task of writing emails, web pages, postal letters, brochures, etc.

This means you need to spend time writing subject lines and headlines that really do grab the attention of the recipient who has a finger poised over the delete button. You have to get your thoughts in order, but never descend into bullet points or basic descriptions. You must never lose the buzz.

4. Emails and letters that go via the school administrator need to be written in a specific way.

The emails that go via the generic lists and leaflets that go to the school in shared postal mailings must first persuade the administrator to pass the note on, and then sell to the recipient. This is a very different technique from just reaching the decision maker.

5. In many cases although the head might be the final arbiter of the purchase it can help if another member of staff takes up the cause.

So sometimes you have to email two people to get them to talk together, but I would only get into this once you have honed the creative writing skills as it is quite tricky to get right. However do remember that on occasion you need to get two people interested before making a sale.

6. The body of the text of the advert has to take the right approach.

Simply announcing a service doesn’t sell it – you have to use one of the other approaches such as asking interesting questions, selling on benefits, being humorous, appealing to emotion, etc, etc.

What’s more you have to be very careful indeed when trying to sell on price. Most people underestimate the extra sales they need to get to compensate for a price cut – and the effect it can have on business when the discount is removed. 10% off is not a selling point.

7. The final part of it all is the way the email is set out – this is the application of the psychology of perception, and is another complex matter in itself.

The fact is that the brain works in particular ways, taking in information in different ways from what we might expect. You need short paragraphs that open with words that make it look as if this is the paragraph that gives all the information you want.

Remember, you are not writing something that people will read – you are writing text that people will skim, and you have to know how to deal with that skimming, and how the left and right hemispheres of the brain work in this regard.

An example of an email written in this way appears at www.emails.gs/email.html. In the coming weeks more details of this will be included in the series on creating successful adverts which starts here

So what to do?

The prime issue is whether you spend the time and money experimenting to do it yourself or take on the alternative approach.

This alternative is to work with a company, such as ourselves, where you can be guided. Some people let us write the adverts all the time, others ask us to write three or four promotions and then take over the writing, comparing results with what we get, and then discussing with us why advert a) got a good response and advert b) didn’t.

That is probably the most effective way of all. They study the methods with us, and then gradually see how it is that we are getting better response rates than they can.

The two processes we offer in which we can write some and you can write some are Velocity and Payment By Results. The former allows us to work together, the latter puts the effort in the learning process on your side.

I hope that helps. Do get back in touch if I can offer further information on any particular topic I’m on 01536 399 000 or at Tony@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

Email, internet and shared postal promotions to teachers

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Posted on 26th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The 3 Media Approach to teachers is the most powerful marketing approach there is. And now you can have a lot of the service for free.

There are three ways of selling direct to schools: through email, through the post, and through the internet. But by far the most successful way of reaching schools is through the simultaneous use of all three media.

But using all three media at once can add to the cost. So from time to time we offer a way of using all three media when reaching secondary school teachers, but with you only paying for one.

If you take part in the postal mailing campaign to schools on 24 February we will give you an email campaign to the personal addresses of secondary teachers on any one of our email lists, totally free of charge.

Additionally, we will give you a free listing on to at least five different websites including www.ukeducationnews.co.uk – the UK’s only rolling news site for education.

To qualify for these two free elements in the 3 Media campaign you need either to undertake a solo postal campaign to 4000 schools or to join the shared postal campaign to secondary schools which goes out on 24 February.

The price of the shared postal campaign to reach 5000 secondary schools ranges between 5.7p and 10p per teacher reached (depending on whether you want to reach one or two teachers per school).

Put another way, if you just want to reach one teacher per school in all the 5000 secondary schools the total cost is £450 plus VAT. If you just want to reach the schools with sixth forms it is £360 plus VAT.

In short, for around 10p per school you can send the teacher of your choice a leaflet about your product, send teachers an email about the product to their personal email address and have your advert placed within the leading rolling education news website.

There are more details of our shared service on the Shared Mailing site – including a lot of help on how to write a leaflet that will bring in the sales via a shared postal campaign. But the key point to remember is that we must have your leaflets no later than 12 February.

If you want to know more please do call 01536 399 000, and if you want to book into the 3 Media Campaign just email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

Does the text make much difference?

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Posted on 22nd January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the simplest way to save money when selling to schools?

If you have been reading my ideas and thoughts on selling to schools for some time you may well have noticed that quite often I talk about the importance of getting the message right. My point is that even the change of just a few words in an email can affect the response rate that you get.

To help some companies come to terms with the creative side of direct marketing to schools I’ve been writing a do-it-yourself guide to the creative side of marketing, which is continuing week by week on the Hamilton House blog. You can read it from the start here.

But all that studying takes a bit of time, and we do understand that quite often you want to get going straight away. So we’ve introduced two extra ideas that I think might well help and which relate to our Velocity service.

Velocity exists to help companies undertake marketing to schoolS in a way that will bring them in additional income quickly.

This can include us writing your adverts for you – or it can allow you to write your own adverts. (Obviously, if you write your own adverts the price can be considerably lower since there is less for us to do.)

But that still leaves a problem – because how do you know if your advert really is going to work or not?

Fortunately there is a way around this. If you call us on 01536 399 000 to talk about Velocity, then we’ll invite you to send over a copy of the advert you are thinking of sending out, and we’ll let you know if we think it would work as a selling device for schools.

If we think that there could be some improvements we’ll then re-write the advert for you, free of charge, so you can see how we would approach the subject. If you like the idea you can then sign up for Velocity and use the advert. If not, there’s no obligation to join us, and you can just walk away.

But if you do choose to go with us, there is another benefit to Velocity – because you can alternate between the two approaches. We can write for you for a month, and then you can write your own material for a month. And because Velocity comes with unlimited free consultancy we can talk through the differences between our approach and yours, comparing response rates, and take the advertising forward from that point on.

If you are getting the same sales as we did, then obviously it is best to stay with your copy, not least because you’ll be getting many more emails sent out than you will if we write the adverts.

If not, we can discuss it, write some more, and discuss with you what it is in our approach that makes us get better sales with our adverts than are being achieved with yours.

There is more information on Velocity at www.velocity.ac – or just call 01536 399 000. The whole approach is incredibly flexible so whichever way you want to go, we can help.

Tony Attwood.

Marketing to schools – where to start?

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Posted on 19th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What are the most effective but low cost ways of marketing to schools?

Cost can be a factor when one is marketing to schools, and for this reason Hamilton House offers a range of services which are very much at the low end of the market in terms of expenditure.

Perhaps the most well-known is the Payment by Results advertising service in which you pay nothing at all for the adverts that go out, but instead pay Hamilton House an agreed percentage of the income you receive.

Thus you are guaranteed never to spend money on any advertising that doesn’t bring in the orders.

There are more details on our website as well as information on how to take this process forward and set up a Payment by Results programme with us.

Second, in terms of email marketing the lowest cost approach is for you to purchase a list of school email addresses and then email schools of interest to you, doing the emailing yourself.

The list of all 29,000 mainstream school email addresses costs just £59.99 for unlimited use. We also have lists of nursery schools and special schools.

Of course, the level of response rates you get to your promotions will depend on the way in which you write the advert – and you will find that sometimes even the change of just a sentence or two can make a huge difference to the results.

To help in this regard, everyone who purchases one of our email lists also receives a copy of our paper on how to write email promotions in a way that will get higher response rates.

There are details of our low cost email lists of schools on our email website.

Third, if you want to email secondary school heads of department at their personal school email addresses on a very regular basis, and again you are happy to write the adverts yourself, we have a particular version of our Velocity programme specifically for companies that wish to write their own adverts.

This approach brings the price of sending out emails to teachers via their personal email addresses to around 2p each.

In return for such a discount we ask for a commitment to very regular use of our lists, and this approach is particularly viable for companies that sell products to a wide range of subject areas in schools.

Finally, if you particularly want to get your message onto some top education websites we can arrange that for you through our collection of leading sites. There are details here.

Now I do appreciate that these different options can all be a bit confusing. We’ve got:

  1. Payments by results – you don’t pay us unless we make a sale
  2. Email marketing via the generic email lists – with the whole list available for under £60
  3. Huge discounts with our personal email lists if you commit to regular use
  4. A listing on a range of different education marketing sites for under £50.

So if it all feels a bit confusing please do call 01536 399 000 and we can talk you through each of the options in relation to your particular product or service.

Alternatively, if it is easier to write the details down, please do email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

Selling to schools: a new free service

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Posted on 15th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

A new, free advisory and advertising service
for companies developing a business
selling products and services into schools

Selling into the schools market can be difficult and confusing, and it is a sad fact of life that many companies that try to enter the market can waste of lot of money for very little return.

Which is why we have set up a new, completely free service for companies that are moving into the market for the first time. The service is also available for companies that have tried selling to schools without the success that they might have hoped for.

The service covers advice and guidance on the five key areas of selling to schools:

  1. Angling your approach so you offer a benefit that teachers appreciate and which is available for a price they are willing to pay.
  2. Choosing the right media (email, post, the internet, shows, telephoning, sales reps). Not all the media work, and not all work as well as each other. Much depends on the product you are selling.
  3. Pitching your offer to the right person. This is sometimes not as obvious as it might seem – and quite obviously, if one approaches the wrong person in the school, a lot of time and money can be wasted.
  4. Knowing when to advertise and how often to advertise.
  5. Producing sales literature and adverts that immediately appeal. It is not only what you are selling that makes the difference, it is how you write the advert – and unfortunately, this is generally not a case of common sense.

In addition to our guidance and advice programme, for many new companies we are also able to arrange advertising to schools for you for no charge at all.

In order to start the conversation, at no cost to yourself and with no obligation, you can either call 01536 399 000 and ask to speak to one of our colleagues about your product and how it might be promoted to schools, or email Tony@hamilton-house.com with details of what you are selling.

We can also guarantee to give you free, no obligation advice on how to turn your business idea into a success. What’s more, in a large number of cases we can also offer a free advertising service should you wish to use it.

This free advertising and advisory support service is organised through the School of Educational Administration and Management – a unique organisation that brings together both schools (which need to find the best products and services to meet their needs) and suppliers (who need to promote their products in a way that is acceptable to schools).

The SEAM was set up with funding from the Department of Trade and Industry and with the support of the Faculty of Education at the University of Northampton and now works in liaison with Hamilton House Mailings Ltd.

SEAM itself runs courses for school administrators and managers, and provides free advice on planning and organising the purchases the schools need.

For all enquiries please do call 01536 399 000.

Tony Attwood

Promoting to teachers at a much lower price

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Posted on 12th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

How to sell to secondary school teachers week after week at a fraction of the normal price.

Undoubtedly the most effective way of selling into schools is to write to teachers regularly. Indeed if you can write to them weekly, that is the best approach of all.

But it is often argued that this will surely alienate teachers. If they are receiving promotions for the same materials week after week, won’t that just make them delete the emails without reading them?

The answer is yes – if you keep sending the same promotions for the same items all the time.

But if you can vary something in your emails, then you can overcome this problem and gain the benefits that familiarisation with your products will bring.

You can introduce this variation in any one of three ways…

First, if more than one teacher is interested in your product you can obviously change the teacher you write to each week. Second, if you have multiple products on offer you can move from one to another, in each case stressing the benefits of the particular product in question.

And third, if you are writing to the same teacher each time, advertising the same product, you can still use this system by radically changing the message each time.

Indeed these are exactly the approaches that I use in this newsletter which is sent out two or three times a week! Each time I write about a different service, and I regularly try to approach the issues in different ways and focus on different benefits.

This leaves two issues: the cost, and the question of what happens if you run out of ideas.

If you wish to have five emails a month sent out by Hamilton House using our personal email addresses of secondary school teachers you can do that for £495 a month – which works out at around 5p per teacher.

This approach is part of our Velocity programme – which means you can also have as much consultancy, support and help as you want – at no extra charge.

In that way we’ll be able to help you find new ways of writing your advertisements. But if that doesn’t help get the creative juices flowing, there’s still another way forward. You can always move across to the regular three emails to schools a month for a while, with our team writing the emails.

Better still, all the emails we write for you become your property – so you can use them again in the future if you wish. Or re-write them to suit your particular needs.

To discuss this approach to emailing secondary school teachers at their personal email address five times a month at just £99 per promotion, please do call 01536 399 000 or email Laura@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood.

Higher sales when selling to schools

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Posted on 8th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Follow these ten basic rules for selling to schools and success is certain

How can I make such a bold claim as this?

Quite simply because Hamilton House operates three companies that sell to schools. Of course our aim is that these companies should make a profit, but at the same time we use them as a way of undertaking experiments with different ideas on selling to schools.

In this ever changing marketplace we don’t just have ideas; we also test out ideas, see which ideas work, and then pass these on to our clients.

Better still, we’ve managed to reduce successful selling to schools down to ten basic rules. Follow these rules and success will be yours. The first four concern how you present your message; the rest concern the media you use.

Part one: presenting the message

1: At the very heart of it all is how you present your offer. You need to offer the teacher something he/she wants at a price he/she thinks is reasonable. So you might offer classroom chairs that encourage children to focus rather than wriggle. Or chairs that last twice as long… But you may find just selling “classroom chairs” is a harder job.

But If you get stuck on this point, don’t worry – this first issue is the one that causes the most problems in selling to teachers. If you want to discuss it in relation to your product or service, just call 01536 399 000 or email Tony@hamilton-house.com. No charge, no obligation – we’ll try to help you see your product or service in a new light.

2: Now you have to grab attention. Announcing a conference or a new course book will grab the attention of some teachers, but probably not enough. But add a highly unusual headline or an open question that fascinates and you’ll get many more readers. Remember you have to grab hold of the teacher and not let go.

3: Third you have to tell the reader why he/she should buy. In short you spell out the benefit (this book will raise grades) and not the features (this book has 200 pages and colour pictures).

4: Next you have to say why the reader should buy from you rather than anyone else. Saying that you offer a ten year guarantee or that your software solves a specific problem instantly is good. Saying “we are a very friendly, small family business” does less because lots of people say it, and it doesn’t offer a benefit.

Part two: email, the post or the internet?

Every medium has benefits and disadvantages. The most successful adverts play to the benefits of the medium and incorporate mechanisms that overcome the problems.

5: Email can be blocked, can appear cheap, and can look like spam. So with email you need to construct the message so that it is not going to be blocked and has an immediate appeal which overcomes any thought that it might be of no importance. You can do this by avoiding specific phrases, putting the illustrations on the landing page, and appearing to be a credible source of information about education from line one in the very first advert.

6: The post remains the most profitable approach to selling to schools, but because of the cost you must run test mailings first. Normally this means mailing 300 or so schools from your target list at random. Most test mailings recover their costs and this allows you to try out several approaches to see which message works best.

7: Post and email can be combined through using a shared postal campaign which comes with a free solo email campaign. But shared postal leaflets that work all have a very specific style. There’s more on this here.

8: Having written your email and postal campaigns, put them on the internet for all to find. We do this for our clients’ on www.ukeducationnews.co.uk – which is equivalent to emailing another 5000 teachers. Teachers will also find you through searches – which is why you need lots of web pages that answer their questions.

9: PR has a great validity if handled properly. You need to be on the key news sites that teachers read, as well as exploring the opportunities of local news stories.

10. You need to be creative in your advertising. If you feel you are not naturally creative either try our free online course in creativity, or else use one of the Hamilton House services through which we’ll write the copy for you.

So how to do all this?

In the most general terms you can:

  1. Buy email and postal data from us on a one off basis or have Hamilton House send out the emails and post for you.
  2. Work with us on a contract basis. The cost of the data comes down by around 50% and we can also write the copy if you like
  3. Use our Free Marketing service in which we’ll do the advertising for free, and you pay a pre-arranged commission on each sale we get.

There is a gentle introduction to each of these three approaches here Alternatively please do call 01536 399 000 and we can talk through any of the ten points above – or come to that anything else you want to discuss.

Tony Attwood

Use all three media for the price of one

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Posted on 5th January 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the most cost effective way of promoting your product to teachers?

If you really want to have a promotion that delivers orders then you need to do three things: reach all the schools, use all the media available, but keep the price down.

And the most cost effective way of doing this is through the unique Hamilton House 3 Media programme.

The 3 Media Programme delivers:

  • a shared postal mailing to secondary school heads of department
  • a solo email to teachers using the secondary school personal email list of your choice
  • an entry on the UK Education News website which is roughly equivalent to a further email to about another 5000 teachers.

The shared postal mailing allows you to put one or two leaflets into our shared mailing pack (if you put in two leaflets they can, if you wish, be to two separate teachers).

We’ve studied the format of leaflet that works – and we’ve produced a free report to show you exactly how you need to lay out your leaflet to make it pull in orders.

The solo email campaign can use any one of our secondary school personal email lists. In this mailing your email goes out on its own, when you want it, to the teachers of your choice (subject to date availability). To see the choice of lists please click here.

The entry on UK Education News can be either a text only copy of your email advert or, if you wish, a completely different advert.

In this way with one promotion you reach your audience through all three media. And better still the cost is just £450. That includes one leaflet in the shared mailing to all 5000 secondary schools, the solo email campaign of your choice, and your listing on UK Education News.

If you want a second leaflet in the postal campaign, that makes the price £575. If you want only to reach the schools with sixth forms that takes it down to £360. The maximum weight for your leaflet/s per school is 15g – after that there is a surcharge. Details are on the Shared Mailing website – or call 01536 399 000.

The next postal mailing is on 20th January, which means we need your leaflets very very quickly indeed. Please call if you want to book in – or email Chris@hamilton-house.com. We also have a shared postal mailing to primary schools on 27 January.

Tony Attwood

Hello and Goodbye

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Posted on 22nd December 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

We’re off on our holidays, but that doesn’t mean we’ve left you with nothing to read. Or do.

This is the last post of the year from Hamilton House – but please don’t worry, because we’ve provided lots of reading matter for you should you need a break from everyday events. And some activities too.

First off, the dates.

Our last working day is Tuesday 23 December. Technically we finish at 5pm, but we might just sneak away a little earlier on that day – it has been known.

We are then closed until 9am on Monday 5 January, at which time we start all over again.

But now, on to your Christmas reading…

We have been running two series of late that you might have missed and which might bring a little entertainment and/or insight into your life when you need a break from events.

On the Good Ad blog we’ve been running a new Toppled Bollard story – this one looking back to the early days when Billy the Dog (the famed marketing expert) took over the Bollard and first got into direct marketing.

The first article in the story appeared here, and you can go on and read all the episodes to date if you have a mind to.

Meanwhile on the Direct Marketing Secrets site we’ve turned our attention of late to the issue of creativity and how you can stimulate your own creative outflow to aid the writing of better emails, blogs, web pages and postal campaigns.

That series also includes some things to do if you really want to get your creativity flowing. Indeed if you have some free time over Xmas/New Year that is a perfect time to get going. The activities really are fun – in fact everyone can join in and they make a change from Xmas games.

The starting point of this series is here and again you can proceed through the articles from that point onwards.

In fact all the articles that we produce on our three email news groups go onto our three blog sites – so you can flip back to or search for any particular topic that you wish.

The third of the news services is Education Marketing, which continues to deal each week with ways of selling to schools – with our last information being on making the most of postal shared mailings and email campaigns.

There is a guide to all our work on our main site – www.hamilton-house.com

So there we have it. Another year gone. By my reckoning we launched in Northamptonshire in 1981 – which makes it 33 years of direct marketing and publishing!

We’ll be back in January, but in the meanwhile if you want to drop me an email, I’ll be looking at my inbox occasionally over the holidays. It’s TonyAttwoodofLondon@gmail.com

Happy Christmas, and enjoy some jolly New Year celebrations too.

Tony Attwood, and all the team at Hamilton House Mailings.

How to use the last few days

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Posted on 19th December 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

There is still a chance to get a free personal email campaign in January

Depending on exactly when you read this, we are either at or have just passed the final delivery date for a postal shared mailing to schools at the start of January, with a free personal email campaign attached.

But don’t worry too much if you missed that first despatch, because due to the popularity of that mailing we are running another one with a free email facility alongside it a little later in the month.

This time the date for despatch of the postal mailing is 20 January and the last date for delivery for the leaflets is 8 January.

Which means that it is probably worth using the last couple of days before Christmas (or even a day or two between Christmas and the New Year if you have time after returning from the Seychelles, Goa, the Gambia, or wherever has taken your fancy this year) to get the design done and the copy over to your printer.

If you are contemplating a different type of leaflet design this time (or indeed if you have not used a postal shared mailing before) you might care to look at our article on which sorts of design work particularly well.

Additionally, if you are new to this very low cost form of postal promotion, please do call us on 01536 399 000 and we’ll send you a sample of a past pack we’ve sent out.

When you get this you’ll notice in particular the cover page, a newsletter from the school administrators’ national organisation (the School of Educational Administration and Management) dealing with key issues of the day, which encourages administrators to open the pack and distribute the leaflets.

As always, you will have a choice of using any of our secondary school personal email lists as listed here free of charge – and you can use the email service at any time in January, providing we have space in the week you select. (Which is another good reason to get the booking in sooner rather than later.)

We will also give you a free listing on UK Education News – the very popular rolling news service for teachers.

The prices haven’t changed – it is £360 to reach all the schools with sixth forms, and £450 to reach all 5000 secondary schools.

If you want more than one leaflet in the pack there is a small additional surcharge, and in the unlikely event of these leaflets together weighing over 15g again there is a surcharge. Full details are given on our pricing page

There is more information as always on the Shared Mailing website – or please do call 01536 399 000. If you are ready to make a booking now, please email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood