If you can answer these ten simple questions you can be sure your email or postal campaign to teachers will work.
Of course there are many factors that affect the success of advertising, but over the 35 years I’ve been selling both my company’s own products and those of other firms we’ve boiled the whole process down to ten key questions.
And here they are…
1. Is your product or service one that teachers want and is it at a price they are willing to pay?
In answering this you will need to think carefully about what you are selling. If your answer is “a book on GCSE chemistry” then possibly they don’t want it because they already have one. If this is a book on GCSE chemistry that is proven to raise grades, they might.
The lesson to be learned is, make your product something that they want – and that might not be encapsulated in the way you currently describe it. And of course experiment with price. Don’t ever assume you have to be the cheapest or that cheap is good.
2. How are you grabbing attention?
Simply announcing a product does not grab attention. Nor does saying “50% discount” because lots of adverts say that. An open question such as “what is the simplest way of getting children who are not interested in books to start reading?” works well. As do quirky headlines like Sdrawkcab gnitrats fo tifeneb eht.
We all experience over 1000 adverts a day and instantly screen out most of them, so to fight your way through you have to do something really amazing. And it will probably take a bit of time to get it right.
3. Are you exciting, buoyant and different from the competition in your advertising?
If your advert looks like anyone else’s then you’re doing yourself down. And if you don’t know what your competitors are doing, you won’t know if you are more exciting than they are. Knowledge and excitement really are the keys here – it doesn’t mean over-the-top claims or lots of exclamation marks. It just means, you write in a way that everyone wants to read but which is different from your competitors.
4. Are you regularly venturing out into the unknown and being creative in new fields?
Being creative in new fields means trying things you don’t normally do. You have to do this to stimulate your ability to think up new ideas every week for your adverts. So saying, “I am creative” because you are creative in one field (such as writing) is not enough – you must venture out into the unknown.
Every week I go out (either on my own or with a friend) to a place not visited before, often without any idea what is there. Sometimes we just drive to a dot on the map. Sometimes I go to a dance club where I don’t know anyone, and start asking for dances. Once a month I try to write a song. Every month I try to do something that I have never done before.
All this stimulates my creative juices. It doesn’t tell me what to write in an advert, but it does make sure my brain is forever exploring new directions and new possibilities so that when I tackle an advert, the result is normally very different indeed.
5. Does your advert answer the question: why should I buy this?
Here we are back to the point about not announcing your product. In fact you should try to forget the product. Think instead about the benefits.
And remember, the answer “it’s the best there is” is not an answer at all because that is just your judgement. You need a real solid answer that shows the reader why he/she should buy this. For example…
Because it will raise student grades; because it reduces your workload by 20%; because it gives Ofsted exactly what they want; because it will enhance the profile of your department; because it will get every pupil and student to behave exactly as you want them to…
Those are benefits.
These then are the first five questions that you have to answer if you want to ensure that your advertisement is really going to set the world alight.
Just answer these and you will be doing well – but if you want to go even further and do brilliantly, then do take a look at our next post. That will round the whole approach off with our remaining “five ways” questions that will help you make your campaign work.
If you would like to read more about the techniques described here, and read it in a lot more detail, there is a series of articles on the Hamilton House blog which goes through the whole process in great depth. The series starts here.
If you would like to talk to me about your own adverts and what could be done to enhance their response rate, please do get in touch either by calling 01536 399 000 or by emailing Tony@hamilton-house.com with a copy of a recent advert. I’ll get back in touch – there is no charge and no obligation.
And if you would like Hamilton House to work for you, writing your adverts, distributing them to schools, etc, please do call 01536 399 000 and let us explain what we do. Alternatively have a look here - this page describes three different ways in which we work with different companies.
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