Is it possible to generate a set of procedures that virtually guarantees that an advertising campaign aimed at teachers will get the best possible results?
It is an interesting notion that there might be a set of procedures which if followed will aid every company that is selling to schools.
The belief that there is such a list of factors has emerged from the work Hamilton House has done with companies that have joined the Velocity programme in which the company and Hamilton House work closely together developing advertising campaigns, and analysing the results.
By looking for patterns in the way companies have sold, and noting where problems have arisen and what solutions are available, we have discovered a range of activities which really do make a difference in terms of sales.
What we found was that the work of generating the best approach to marketing a particular product or service divides into four different areas of activity. It doesn’t seem to matter what the company sells, these four factors are invariably the factors that determine whether the company makes a profit or not.
So without more ado, here are the four points:
- 1. The product or service
If you are selling something that is irrelevant to teachers then (fairly obviously) no one will buy it no matter what you do. So if you produce a new on-line approach to teaching reading to seven year olds who have no interest in books, you might find no one wants it, because everyone who needs such a program already has one. But if your approach has a feature that no other approach includes, then you might be back in business, but getting a sale still depends on the remaining three factors.
- 2. The Offer
All products and services are offered in a particular way. They might be offered as being the cheapest, the best solution to a particular problem, the easiest to use, or the most reliable, or in any one of 100 other ways. But the point is, if the offer does not ring true with teachers, then the offer will fail, no matter how good the product. So if you offer something as a unique solution to a problem, and the teacher looks at the advert and thinks, “but I have seen several other solutions to this problem” you won’t be believed and your promotion will not work. The offer has to be good within the context of what teachers already know and believe.
- 3. The creative
You might have the best product and you might be offering it in a way that is attractive to teachers, but if no one reads your advert, your campaign dies. So you have to generate a creative approach that really grabs and holds teachers’ attention. Unfortunately most companies that create their own advertisements simply copy the style and approach of other companies, and as a result most firms get their creative horribly wrong.
Writing and designing an advertisement (be it a postal, email or web based campaign) is not common sense. For example, the phrase “a picture is worth 10,000 words” suggests that every advertisement needs an illustration – but that is not so. Illustrations can on occasion harm pictures. You might think that colour is always a good idea – but in some circumstances colour can seriously reduce response rates.
The creative approach has to gain and hold attention for teachers will not read your advert just because you have sent it to them. Gaining and holding attention is the hardest part of creating an advertisement.
- 4. The mechanisms of sale
This final part of the process is the most complex and most commonly ignored part of gaining sales from teachers.
Over the 30 years in which we have been operating our services we have identified 12 major mechanisms that relate to getting a sale. It is also our conclusion that 95% of companies that advertise to schools fail to appreciate what these mechanisms are, and how they should be used.
I can’t readily describe all 12 mechanisms here not least because many of them only apply to certain companies, but I will give an example.
Imagine you sell to primary schools and you promote your goods to all primary schools each year. You might argue that it is important to promote to every school because there is no telling where the next order will come from. It might be from a school that purchased from you last year, or from a school that has never purchased before. It might be from a rural school or an urban school, a big school or a small village school… They all buy, so there is no telling.
However it is often possible to produce an analysis that shows that promoting to certain schools will always cost more than the income you generate from them. In short, the company would be better off not promoting to them at all and instead using the money elsewhere.
Here’s one other very common observation. A company advertises by email, and its emails get large readership and good click throughs to the web site. But the number of orders is small. It is fairly obvious that the problem is with the page that teachers are directed to after reading the email. And yet few companies actually change their “landing page” and fewer still experiment with different landing pages. Yet to do so can radically raise the number of orders received.
As I have said there are 12 mechanisms, alongside the issues of product, offer and creative, and it is rare to find a company that is able to pay attention to all of these factors at once.
But it is possible, and if you would like to know more about how Hamilton House might apply its four phase approach to your work, please do call 01536 399 000. There is more information on velocity at www.velocity.ac