The organisations that ask Hamilton House to develop advertising for them are indeed varied. From one-man publishing companies to multinationals. From tiny tutorial agencies to some of the most famous universities in the world.
Some ask us to write what our experience shows will work, while others ask us to stay away from the more quirky approach we sometimes use, fearing perhaps that teachers might be offended or might think it is all too stupid.
However, when given the chance I do use the more unusual approach for the simple reason that I know it works as we measure the results of each advert we publish.
Now I’ve always particularly enjoyed writing the adverts for the highly prestigious Tower Poetry competition organised by Christ Church, University of Oxford, not least because, as an ex-academic who used to lecture on creativity, I have a deep-rooted interest in the subject.
But advertising the competition each year for the past eight years has been a challenge. I must grab the attention of Heads of English in schools year after year. Some, of course, never read emails (so we put the advert on UK Education News also and that helps a lot) but others think, “I know about that” and cast the advert aside.
And there’s always a danger that a teacher who finds his/her pet poet doesn’t win might not bother with the competition again unless I can re-stimulate an interest.
I had the same problem some years ago when I was writing weekly advertisements for materials used by teachers of students with dyslexia. Eventually I hit on the headline:
Nw y knw wht ts lk t b dyslxc
It worked a dream, doubling sales rates, and I’ve incorporated the quirky headline in my writing on a regular basis ever since.
And I’ve just been told that this year the entry level for the Tower Poetry competition with its £3500 winning prize is up threefold on last year, and I would argue that a part of that growth comes from getting headline right. If teachers don’t like the headline they won’t read on.
So I thought I might share with you that headline, because it is one of my quirky headlines – which I know that some organisations that come to Hamilton House to ask us to come up with advertising ideas might reject as “too risky”.
Emoticons, txt mssg, Haha (nee Lol) L8R (now deceased).
Anyway, it’s all good, that’s mega, YOLO etc etc
Now don’t worry if you don’t get that, the MD of Hamilton House didn’t have a clue either. And I am not suggesting that such a headline would work in other contexts.
My point is that my job is to grab attention in a way that makes the recipient read on in a positive frame of mine. After consulting a few Heads of English, I found that they were all very familiar the latest text message slang – and I also knew that few people ever use it when writing adverts to teachers.
The point of the advert itself was that language changes constantly, that at the moment teenagers are in the forefront of such changes, and to help them explore this fully they should be encouraged to be involved in poetry.
This advert not only made teachers read, it got results. Lots of teachers who had never engaged with the competition before have done so this year, and it has happened because we challenged the reader and by making the reader inquisitive as to what happens next.
Of course, many of our customers don’t ask Hamilton House to write their adverts, but instead are happy to write the adverts themselves and for us to send them out and incorporate the adverts into UK Education News and our websites.
And most of our customers are very happy with the results. All I am really saying is, if you want to try something different, do. Only by experiment will you know. And if you’d like us to write for you, we will.
With Hamilton House you can work with us on a contractual basis whereby we look at the whole process of your advertising and (according to your wishes) write the emails, re-write the landing page, develop your social media position, and so on.
Of course, we never do anything without our customer’s ok, and if the customer says “no” to an advert we explain why we think it works, but then move on and write it in another way.
The whole process is called Velocity and there are details here. Alternatively we can work on individual on-off projects or (if you are selling to secondary schools) work on a payment by results basis. If you want to discuss which one is right for you, please do call. 01536 399 000 usually works. Or you can email me.