As easy as 1-2-3

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Posted on 1st September 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

How to cut the cost of personal emails to teachers in half

If you’ve ever looked at the home page of the Hamilton House website you may have seen our slogan, “Be different, be continuous”.

In essence it highlights the need to be different from your competitors in how you write and to keep advertising when others stop.

I’m glad to say that quite a few clients of ours have seen the wisdom of this simple point and have seen their market share grow considerably as a result of applying it.

So we are giving everyone who follows our advice a bonus. If you use Hamilton House to send out four or more emails a month to any of our secondary school personal email lists or either of our generic email lists, we will charge you just £123.00 plus VAT per mailing. We’re calling it 1-2-3. Clever, eh?

What’s more, if you want to email during the school holidays during the course or after a 1-2-3 campaign we will send out an email for you for free.

To give an example of how this would work, if you were emailing the head of careers it would normally cost you £230. With 1-2-3 it costs you £123.

An email to the head of drama would cost £255.96. With 1-2-3 it is, well, £123. A mailing to the head of English would cost £272, and once again with 1-2-3 it is of course £123.

So your four emails in a month can be selected from any secondary personal list, and no matter what the list the price per email will be £123.

If by any chance you want to email one of our smaller lists, such as the head of classics, you can opt to pay the list price (which in this case is £53.76). But of course for the overwhelming majority of lists you are getting a discount of around 50%. Plus the free holiday emails.

And just to be clear, you don’t have to email the same list over and over. You could email the Bursar for the first promotion, the headteacher for the second, the school business manager for the third, and so on.

To take part and get the huge discount you just place your first order and say that you want it as part of 1-2-3. You just have to agree to take four qualifying emails in the month following the despatch of the first email. So if the first email is to go out on 15 September, you must book in to send out three more by 14 October.

You can use the service for emails to any of our secondary school lists described on http://www.emails.gs/Secondarynamedlist.html and on our generic email lists (the ones that go to the school office for forwarding).

If your period of undertaking 1-2-3 includes a school holiday period, you can have a free email during the holiday and extend your month for the paid-for emails by one week. All we need at the start of the month is the list of the four emails that you want to send out and the dates you want them to be despatched. In each case we will need your copy one week before despatch date.

If you have any enquiries about this, or wishe to make a booking, please call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com. There’s a simple contract to sign and then you can get going.

Tony Attwood

The most active term ever?

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Posted on 29th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What on earth has happened to the education market, and what can I do about it?

It is difficult to remember any school year that has incorporated so much change in one moment – and it is quite possible this is the biggest re-arrangement of education in the UK since the 1944 Education Act (although, I hasten to add, that was before my time!)

We’ve got the introduction of compulsory education or training to the age of 18, the massive expansion of primary and nursery education due to the rise in the number of children, a new National Curriculum in England, and the occasionally chaotic arrival of yet more free schools.

The Free Schools do represent an interesting scenario as each school is being equipped from scratch. But we’ve got an even greater level of uncertainty than normal with some schools that were planning to open failing to do so because of problems with their premises, and so parents having to fall back on the LA schools they were trying to get away from. I’ll be providing details of the exact numbers of schools opening in a few days’ time.

Plus, it seems, the GCSE results caused a lot of concerns for some schools, and quite a bit of rethinking is going on.

And all this in addition to the normal start of the school year activity. Local Authority schools now have all their money in the bank and are spending, while Academies, which get their funding directly for the start of this term, are, as usual, ready to spend at once.

In my next article I’ll go into the issue of how companies that sell into education can start to deal with such a situation, but for now, here’s a brief reminder of where immediate action can be taken.

Email campaigns: we can supply email lists very quickly and are normally able to turn around requests to send out emails in a fairly short time – providing, of course, that we are not fully booked (we do limit the number of emails each teacher on a personal list receives).

Free marketing programmes (including the “Payment by Results” service) do have some places available, but these can take longer to set up. There are details on http://www.hamilton-house.com/PBR.html

Postal campaigns normally take about a week to prepare and send out.

Shared postal mailings. Below are the dates for our forthcoming shared postal mailings with leaflets required one week ahead in each case. The first date for each of these mailings is one in which we also offer a free email campaign at the same time (ie 3rd, 4th, and 12th September).

September 2014
Primary – 3rd, 9th 23rd
Secondary – 4th, 16th, 30th
Nursery – 12th

However, all of these mailings have a size limitation, so please do call 01536 399 000 as soon as possible to make a booking. There are more details on www.shared.org.uk including details of the free email campaign offers that go with these mailings.

I do hope you’ll find something of interest for your forthcoming campaign – but if you have any enquiries about our services please do call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

 

 

Free advertising to schools is expanding

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Posted on 28th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Our “Payment by results” service has proved incredibly popular as a way of selling to schools. So now we are introducing some new options.

Up to this point the Free Advertising to Schools campaign has been run on a single approach. Our customers tell us about their product, we advertise it via our email lists, and we get a commission for Hamilton House on each sale that is achieved as a result of the campaign.

You provide us with an email advert, we send it out, the sales go directly to you, and at the end of the next month, the commission on the sales is paid at the agreed rate.

That’s all straightforward, and I suspect that is going to be the approach that will continue to dominate sales to schools for some years to come. However, we have been asked about alternative approaches, and we are now making these available for situations in which they are more appropriate.

Payment per lead

Where the most likely scenario is that a teacher will get in touch about a product, but where there is then generally still some work to do on getting the sale, we are able to work on a “payment per lead” basis. In this way, each time a school phones you and says, “tell me more” or “send me the details” we get a payment for the generation of that lead.

Payment per click

Again this is a simple approach. We send your email out to relevant teachers. Every click is recorded and you would pay for each click. It is also possible to supply the email address of the person who is clicking should you wish.

Payment per application

Many companies offer something free as a way of encouraging teachers to get in touch. That free offer can be some software, a free report, a sample copy of a book, a download, or indeed anything else that works for you.

The benefit of this approach is that you will get the email address and name of the potential customer with each application. You then use those email addresses not just once, but as often as you wish, to sell a variety of products to these teachers over a period of time. However you just pay us per application for the free item.

If you are interested in offering a free report, it may be that we are able to create this report for you. We have in the past produced reports which include an analysis of air conditioning within schools, solving the overload of work in the school office, theatre companies that visit schools, and ways of financing a new school minibus. If you are interested in this very effective way of gathering prospective customers, please do get in touch.

Who writes the advert?

Most of our clients like to write their own adverts. However we can undertake the writing for you, if you wish.

How much is the commission?

Commission rates vary depending on the approach used and are agreed on each project. If at all possible, please send us details of the product or service you wish to sell, which teachers you want to reach, and which of the various free-advertising approaches you wish to use, and we’ll come back with our commission offer.

However, if you wish to discuss the matter on the phone please call mE (Tony) or my colleague Stephen on 01536 399 000, although it may be worth noting that we are not generally able to quote a commission rate on the phone because of the range of issues we have to consider this end.

Because these options are new we don’t have further details on our website yet, but there is more information on our long-established “Payment by results” programme in which you pay the commission on each sale, at http://www.hamilton-house.com/PBR.html

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tony Attwood

 

What you should never say in an advert to teachers

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Posted on 26th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What are the pictures and phrases that can wreck your advert in one second – no matter how good your product?

If you have read my commentaries before you’ll know how often I stress the need for every advert to grab attention from the off.

And you’ll probably know that in my view an awfully large number of adverts simply don’t do that.

Sometimes advertisers do think they are achieving this goal – as with the advertiser who recently told me that his “10% discount!” headline was most certainly an attention grabber because he’d never offered a discount before. Personally I disagreed. For me such discounts are commonplace and instantly ignored.

In other words I think “10% discount!” is simply a failure of a headline. But there are some headlines that are much worse than this. Headlines which actively turn the teacher against you, ensuring that he/she not only doesn’t buy now, but is unlikely to buy next time around either.

One such is any sort of headline that incorporates the phrase “back to school”. It is a commonplace phrase among advertisers, but not one that teachers use. Because they are not going back to school – they are returning to work after a break during which they almost certainly have been working.

Indeed, a recent analysis of the readership of our UK Education News site and our Schools Blog shows that the number of visits we have been getting in August is higher than the number we get during term time, suggesting teachers have more time in the holidays.

I’d also steer very clear of anything that suggests that you hope teachers have had a nice long relaxing holiday. Anything that suggests that teachers get longer breaks than the rest of the population is not a good line to push to teachers.

Likewise I would avoid any of those very old fashioned clip art pics that show someone wearing a mortar board and gown. This is one of the biggest put downs you can have in an advert – treating your customer like a cartoon character.

My advice is that if you have not taught in a school in the last ten years, lay off anything that suggests a familiarity with the everyday life of a teacher, because you’ll almost certainly get it wrong.

Better to focus on your product and the benefits it brings to the teacher. Not the features – they can go on your website – but the benefits, such as the reduction in the amount of time that it takes to do a certain job or the way this product will help raise grades.

But whatever else you do, don’t say anything that could sound patronising. Don’t ever say, “I know how hard it is in the classroom” or anything like that, even if you genuinely do know. Trying to be “one of the gang” with the teacher who is reading, simply doesn’t work.

Remember, if you have got a product that teachers will want at the price you are asking them to pay, then all you have to do is grab attention and answer the two questions that they will ask:

a) Why should I buy this?

b) Why should I buy this from you?

You don’t have to be chummy, you don’t have to pretend that you know how they feel, you don’t have to introduce your company, you don’t have to offer a load of background. Just grab attention and go for the benefits.

If you would like to run your next advert by me, I’m always happy to take a look. Just email me a copy of the advert and I’ll call you back with my thoughts. No charge, no obligation, no horseman will call.

01536 399 000 usually works as does Tony@hamilton-house.com

And if you are interested in further thoughts on how to raise your response rates in email and postal marketing, and indeed how to get more hits on your website, do take a peek at www.blog.hamilton-house.com It’s awfully good, although I would say that since I wrote it.

Tony Attwood

 

We’ve said it before, now we can prove it

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Posted on 22nd August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Proof that even more teachers read educational websites during the summer holiday

I’ve written many times about the fact that teachers pay as much attention to their emails and to matters educational on the internet during the school holidays as they do in the term time.

Now, however, I am going to have to revise that view, because I’ve just had in figures for the readership of articles that have appeared on our blog www.blog.schools.co.uk

And these stats suggest that teachers spend more time reading about education on the internet in the holidays than they do in term time.

This site is made up of nothing but a stream of advertisements that are supplied to us by our clients who place email advertisements with us. Many of the readers find these adverts by typing a search phrase and finding the site listed on Google. Others find it because they advertise with us on UK Education News.

Now we’ve seen a massive hike in readership in the last month. A month in which teachers have by and large been on holiday.

Added to which the trend throughout the last month is most certainly upwards. Each day has got more visits to those advertisements than the day before.

During the last 30 days the www.blog.schools.co.uk site got 45,397 visits in total – our highest ever. The average number of visits per story is around 800. And remember, the only thing on the site is the adverts that we have placed for our clients.

This will be particularly good news for the companies who took up the offer of free advertising on the service in August. But even if you did not take up that offer, if you send in your copy now, we can run your advert for the rest of August without charge, and you’ll only pay the normal £49.99 plus VAT to cover September and October. Alternatively, advertise through September, October and November, and we’ll only charge £59.99 plus VAT, and give you both the rest of August and all of December free of charge.

Better still you will not only get your listing on the Schools Blog but you’ll also get listings on up to seven other sites, which together get a total of around 100,000 visits a month.

Details of the whole offer and all the sites that make up our network are given on http://www.top5.org.uk/Suppliers.html

But please do note you will have to say that you want the special offer when you book in – and let us know if you want the August free offer or the December free offer.

To talk this through, please call 01536 399 000 or to place your order email Chris@hamilton-house.com  Your advert needs to be supplied as a Word file without illustrations.

Tony Attwood

Writing a winning advert is only part of the trick

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Posted on 20th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

How to construct a brilliant advert and
what to do when you’ve done it

This week one of my colleagues presented me with a rather pleasant problem.

An email advertisement which I had written for one of our Velocity clients had got an exceptionally large number of sales. Many more teachers than anticipated had clicked from the email to the company’s landing page, and as a result many more than normal had placed orders. It was good news all round.

Naturally the client wanted the advert to be repeated – after all, once you have had success you tend to want more success. But I argued against a straight re-run.

There are several reasons why I wanted to pause – and indeed why I always want to pause when we have a successful advert (which is, I am very glad to say, far more often than we have poorly received adverts).

The point is that all email adverts provide us with information. First and foremost they tell us how many products are sold from the advert.

But additionally they also tell us how many people read the advert (as opposed to simply hitting delete upon seeing the subject line) and how many people then click through to the landing page ahead of placing an order.

Now it is when one sees analyses such as these that one starts the fun bit – asking “why?”. Why did this advert get so many orders when another one for the same product resulted in far poorer sales? Why did people go straight on to buying the product, while other adverts got readership and click throughs, but no orders?

The answers are varied, of course, for here we are in the complex world of creativity and the way the reader sees the advert.

But the thinking is important because unless one is advertising the product next time to a different person in the school, repeating the advert exactly is not a good idea. A straight repetition tends to lead quickly to a set of diminishing returns.

So I try to understand what I got right – and how I got it right – in creating that advert, and from these thoughts extract basic principles that relate to response rates when advertising to schools.

These principles then emerge to some degree as rules – such as my oft repeated notion that one needs to grab attention through the subject line and headline within the email, and then answer the two questions, “Why should I buy this?” and “Why should I buy this from you?”.

It is in fact the way that one grabs attention and the way that one answers those questions that ultimately enable us to find the answers to the question, “why did this advert work so well?”.

Probably the simplest way of finding out what makes an advert work is for you to send me a copy of one of your adverts, with your phone number, so that I can phone you back and talk to you about the advert.

But equally I am perfectly happy to talk about how we work in terms of writing adverts and sending them out for our clients via the Velocity programme.

If you want to reach me, I am on 01536 399 000. If you want to send in an advert for a confidential and free review then send it to Chris@hamilton-house.com

And if you would like to know more about Velocity, please do take a peek at www.velocity.ac – or if you prefer, just call the number above.

Tony Attwood

 

 

 

Free advertising to schools

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Posted on 18th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

 

If you want free advertising to schools in September you need to act now

It is always tempting to think that August is a time when one can relax in terms of marketing to schools. Except…

There are a number of ways in which action taken in August can have a major impact on your September campaigns – not least if you want to take advantage of our free advertising services.

“Advertise to schools for free” is an exclusive service from Hamilton House in which we will send out your adverts to teachers by email at no cost to you.

What happens is that at the end of each month you tot up the sales you get from our adverts to school during the month and then tell us how much you’ve taken, as a result of these adverts. Finally, at the end of the following month you pay us a commission at a rate that is agreed at the start.

So there is nothing to pay up front. If you don’t get any sales, then you don’t pay anything at all. But if you do get sales in (for example) September, you will need to pay us our commission in October.

But why should you think about this in August?

The fact is that we limit the number of emails we will send to any particular teacher in any one month.

This means that we might have a space to send an email to a particular teacher in (say) the second week in September and that will then go to one of our Free Advertising customers who has already signed up and has the advert logged with us, ready to go.

A firm that is only just starting to talk to us in September will miss out and might not be able to get a slot for a while. Obviously we’ll get it out as soon as we can, but it might not be immediately.

Thus if you want free advertising in September, you need to be acting in August. In the meanwhile there are more details on our service on http://www.hamilton-house.com/PBR.html

If, having had a look at those details, you want to undertake the preliminaries straight away, just send details of your product or service, along with a link to your website and/or any advert that you have sent out yourselves, to SamanthaBates@hamilton-house.com We’ll come back to you and discuss the commission rate and then, once all is arranged, we’ll start scheduling adverts.

Tony Attwood

 

 

No one will read all this

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Posted on 15th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Why is it that longer sales letters and emails will often have a much higher level of effectiveness than shorter version?

When I present one of my normal sales letters or promotional emails to a client for the first time, I do sometimes get the answer back that it is no good because “No one will read all this”.

And the reply I give (“Yes, I know”) can often surprise. But the fact is that my letters (which often run to around 400 words) are not designed to be read in full.

The fact is that most people who get an email or a sales letter are ready to jettison it from the off. So the first thing one has to do is to get their attention – “grab the reader by the throat” has long been my favourite expression for this moment.

Then, if one does succeed in getting attention, one has to take the reader on a journey. A journey which the reader might be reluctant to make, but nevertheless one that manages to persuade the reader to venture into your world.

So what we have is the sales letter or email as a battleground. In our case of communicating with schools, the teacher, administrator or school manager has been drawn in by our headline, but doesn’t want to hang around all day. He/she wants to cut to the chase and get on with life.

After all he/she is the expert. He/she knows about teaching, teaching resources, management, administration or whatever. What can this email or sales letter possibly say that is new? Probably nothing. Skim, skim, skim.

That’s the reality that we have to live with, and it is a reality that the writer of the short sales letter finds hard to turn to the seller’s advantage.

What the writer of the long sales letter or email can do, however, is consider what the reader sees going down the page, taking in the first four words of each paragraph.

But there is more to it than that, for additionally the writer also has to be aware of exactly how perception works at this point; which means knowing what the right and left hemispheres of the brain are doing.

Now at this point and given half the chance, I could talk the hind legs off a donkey, as my mother used to put it. The psychology of perception (which is what we are talking about here) has been my interest from my post-grad years onwards.

But I will exercise some restraint and instead give you the briefest of insights into what this scientific study has to say in relation to grabbing and holding attention when writing emails and sales letters.

First, a lot of focus should be given to the opening of each paragraph so that each paragraph stands a fighting chance of getting the reader to slow down and start taking in your message.

Second, the paragraphs should be short – three lines is a good target – with clear white space between each one, so that there are lots of chances of drawing the reader in. To see these processes in motion, flip back through this piece and read the opening of each paragraph.

Meanwhile the sales letter or email that is looking for a direct sale or a lead onto a catalogue or website where the sale will be made should be answering the two standard questions, “Why should I buy this?” and “why should I buy this from you?” Subtlety is an option here.

In my case, I’m answering the first question by gradually suggesting that you should buy educational marketing services from Hamilton House because the way you write your sales letter and email has a major impact on the sales you get. And I’m suggesting we know stuff other firms don’t know.

There’s a lot more to this than the points I’ve made so far – but I don’t want to risk losing you by putting too much in this one little article.

My key point, however, is that the way people read emails and sales letters is not a matter of common sense. It relates to a whole variety of issues that are rooted within the brain and to the way in which we perceive the world around us, second by second.

Of course, simply making a letter long doesn’t really help us at all. The point is that the long letter or email allows us space and time to manipulate the situation and draw the reader in as the message is put across. This doesn’t mean that other approaches don’t work – rather this approach works better.

There is an example of a sales letter written by me, for teachers, along with an explanation of why it is written as it is, on our email site. There are lots more articles on the issue of how to create direct marketing that works on the Hamilton House blog

Writing in this particular long-email form is something that we undertake for many of our Velocity clients. However using our style is not compulsory. While a Velocity customer might get three emails written and sent out per month as part of our work, a company writing its own promotions will get four a month. Writing copy is there as an option – it’s not compulsory.

Please do call 01536 399 000 if you would like to talk about any of the issues here. Or indeed, anything else. I’m also quite interested in football, dyscalculia, the administration of schools, and murder mysteries on TV.

Tony Attwood

Free email campaigns offer extended

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Posted on 13th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the most cost effective way of reaching teachers in September?

There is no doubt that a campaign that involves sending a leaflet through the post, as well as one that gives you a complete free email campaign to schools, then you have a very effective way of getting your promotion to work.

And when the cost of the postal campaign is 10p per teacher – or less – and, as I’ve just mentioned, the cost of the email campaign is absolutely zero – then you can see why I call this the most cost effective approach that we have.

The shared postal campaigns in question are those that run in the first week of September. Until now we’ve said that the free email bonus is only available with mailings to secondary schools. Now we are making it available with mailings to primary schools as well.

But don’t worry if you’ve already booked into a primary school postal shared mailing for this mailing in the first week in September. Just give us a call, and we can sort out your free email campaign.

Here are all the details…

All All 5000 secondary schools: Leaflets by 28 August; despatch 4 September.

Single item cost £450 Two items £575

All All 3800 schools with sixth forms: Leaflets by 28 August; despatch 4 September

Single item cost £360 Two items £435.

  • Largest 5000 primary schools: Leaflets by 27 August, despatch 3 September.

Single item cost £485 Two items £580

  • Largest 10000 primary school: Leaflets by 27 August, despatch 3 September

Single item cost £825 Two items £1010

  • All 24000 primary schools: Leaflets by 27 August, despatch 3 September

Single item cost £1690 Two items £2075

How to ensure you get the best response ratesThere is an article on how to get the best response rates from a postal shared mailing on the Education Marketing Blog. We do recommend that you have a read of this article, and then if you have any questions, please do give us a call on 01536 399 000.

We strongly suggest that you put who the leaflet is for (writing for example, “Attn: Head of English) in large text on the top right, so that you make it easy for the administrator to pass the leaflet on to the right person.

If you have not been in a shared postal mailing before please call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com and we’ll post you a copy of a past pack. Please note that if you leaflet (or leaflets if sending two leaflets per school) weighs over 15g there will be a surcharge. Please call for details or click here

To book in a mailing, once again just email Chris@hamilton-house.com who can also give you details of the free email campaign and your free listing on UK Education News.

Tony Attwood

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Discounts on postal and email campaigns to schools

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Posted on 11th August 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the most cost effective way of promoting to schools in the new term?

You might have seen that on the Hamilton House blog of late I have been attempting to reduce successful direct marketing down to four basic points. The idea is that if you get those four points right your advertising is much more likely to work than if you ignore them.

I’m continuing to develop this view in subsequent articles on that blog – if you click here you can work back through some of the most recent topics covered.

But at the same time, in terms of promoting to schools I would encourage you to consider acting now in order to get your promotions not only booked in for the new term, but in many cases booked in at a discount.

In terms of postal campaigns, if you provide us with your leaflets so that we can prepare them before the end of August, we’ll give you a 20% discount. The items don’t have to be mailed until any time you wish in September; we just need to be able to do the work now, before the rush starts.

In terms of email campaigns, the summer is a good time for marketing to Scottish schools, heads of sixth form, and schools in Australia and New Zealand who are back from their midwinter break.

Scottish schools are returning around 13th August, while in the rest of the UK heads of sixth form and heads of careers will be in schools from the same day, seeing the results which are made public on 14 August – and helping their students decide what to do next.

The GCSE results come out a week later, and in relation to these it is worth remembering that this year all students have to stay in some form of education or training (full or part time) until they are 18 – so there will be even more for the head of careers to do.

Hamilton House can help you reach these schools in a variety of ways – including (for the UK schools) emails direct to the teachers concerned.

Better still, during August, all these UK emails are sent out at half price – which for secondary school lists means 6p each email.

Finally, if you want to do email plus a postal campaign we have three shared postal mailing programmes which all come with a completely free email promotion, using any list of your choice.

There is a promotion to all 5000 secondary schools (or the 3800 schools with sixth forms), for which we need leaflets by 28 August, and a mailing to the 10,000 largest private nursery schools, for which leaflets are required by 5 September.

The price for a single leaflet is between 8p and 10p per school – with the email promotion completely free of charge. There are more details on www.shared.org.uk

Obviously all of these services (solo mail prepared in August, email despatched in August, shared postal mailing with free email in August/September) can all get fully booked, so while you might be lucky if you leave it until just before the deadline, it is safer to book in sooner.

If you have any questions please do call 01536 399 000, or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood