Telling teachers how to do their job rarely impresses them. Stimulating their imagination always works better.
In 1929 the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post published an interview with Albert Einstein. In it he said,
“I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination, which I think is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
It is a statement that I first came across when I was a student, and it is one that has stayed with me for much of my life. Indeed it has been the driving force behind the most successful of the advertisements aimed at teachers that I have written.
You see, my vision of teachers is as a group of people who feel that they know what they are doing and how to do it. However, they also feel (and of course I am generalising like mad here) that they are under daily attack from politicians, the media, and most recently, parents.
To sum up the view of many of them, they feel that “if only everyone would let us get on with the job, schools would be in a better shape than they are now.”
Now I’m not proposing to argue in favour of or against the validity of that view – but it is a fact that I do take it as a starting point in all the adverts I write that are sent to teachers.
My point is that many teachers do believe that they know how to educate children. But I also have to recognise that I am writing adverts to them saying, “don’t use the product you have been using, use this product” or “try changing your approach – do it this way”.
And then I have to ask, “Why should they take any notice of me?” After all, although I was a teacher, I’m not a teacher now, and thus from the point of view expressed above, my opinion will be of limited interest to them – for they already know what to do.
My answer is simple. I try not to tell them what to do. Rather in my advertisements I try to offer teachers something that stimulates their imagination. So rather than saying forcibly that “This reading scheme is a must for every literacy co-ordinator” I seek to engage them in a more informal, informative way.
In a sense this is similar to my talking to you through these short articles about how to sell to teachers. I offer my thoughts on how it should be done, and try to put in the reasoning behind these thoughts.
So the thrust of my advertising to teachers often relates to ways of exploring possibilities – offering them something new, something different, which will allow them to be liberated from the shackles of an unseeing, misguided and politically motivated bunch of overlords.
Thus I offer them the chance to use their knowledge and imagination, suggesting that the products I advertise will give them support in their on-going venture.
Whether you are handling the whole advertising process yourself, whether you are part of the Velocity programme with Hamilton House (in which we become an integral part of your sales effort), whether you are buying our mailing services on a one-off approach, or whether you are using our “No sales, no fee” service, I do think this is the right way forward.
Become enough of an artist to draw freely on your imagination. Treat your imagination as more important than knowledge.
Remember, “Imagination encircles the world.”
For details of all our services in terms of selling to teachers please see http://www.educationmarketing.org.uk/