Why you need to approach schools in two different ways


Posted on 16th April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The two types of direct marketing, when selling to schools. Why we need them and what they do for us.

In all areas of direct marketing – but particularly when selling to schools – there are two separate approaches. Both are important, and a review of how companies advertise show us that the most successful companies use both approaches.

The first and most obvious approach is that of “now” selling – the approach that offers a particular product at this moment at a particular price.

Thus if you are selling a product or service, you might use this approach to announce a discount in a package that is coming to an end, before later announcing the all-new package which has just emerged, but at a higher price. It is all about the moment.

Such advertising takes place through three media: email, the post, and the internet. The adverts constantly change and evolve, and companies that do this well measure the readership and response rate of each advert while testing and trialling new formats in the background.

Thus a new idea for such an advert might be tried using a segment of a high performing email list (for example, your own list of past buyers or a list of subscribers to a news service).

Then if the advert works you can also try it across the more expensive personal lists and use its message in postal advertising, aiming to reach the schools that don’t respond to emails.

The second, and sometimes forgotten, approach lurks in the background. This type of advertising is low cost and is always there, aiming to draw in teachers who are looking for a particular product rather than being seduced by a new offer.

This second type of advertising – the “background advertising” – typically appears on blogs, directory websites and news services (often in terms of published press releases).

Background advertising, however, should not be thought of as doing nothing other than announcing “XYZ Supplies Ltd: for all your software needs” for such an announcement will get very few replies because it is too general.

Background advertising needs to be specific, but it needs to ensure that the readers recognise that what you are talking about is not a short term one-off deal.

Thus you might say, “What is the quickest and lowest cost way of getting educational software?” or, if advertising a range of behavioural products, “There are 10,000 ways of improving classroom behaviour – but only certain approaches work.”

Such background advertising can be placed on suitable sites for months on end at a very low cost and can itself be supplemented by press releases which appear in papers, magazines and on the news services and websites that your audience read.

Of course Hamilton House offers both approaches, but I’d particularly like to focus on the “background advertising” services that we offer.

These include websites such as UK Education News and the School Procurement Site and a variety of others which receive a significant number of visits each week.

Background advertising can also include regular email shots to school generic addresses. These promotions can help you garner your own list of interested teachers (by offering something free which they have to apply for via an email) or be used to get a constant although perhaps modest stream of orders.

Although generic emails do indeed result in modest numbers of sales, they can help keep you in the teachers’ eye, which is why we make our list of 26000 generic school addresses available on CD or by download for just £49.99.

Companies that are part of the Velocity programme will get listings on UK Education News and similar sites for free, as well as use of the generic and personal email lists. Non-Velocity customers can buy into all our various education news and information sites for either two months or a year at a time.

Details of Velocity are on www.velocity.ac while details of how to buy a place on all our various education sites that are read by teachers (and indeed parents) are on http://www.top5.org.uk/Suppliers.html Prices start from just £49.99.

If you would like to discuss the often ignored “background advertising” please do call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood


Personal emails to teachers free until 28 April


Posted on 14th April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Research clearly shows that teachers do read their emails during the school holidays. But what is the most effective way of using this insight?

It has been apparent for a long time that teachers, like many others, are using their mobile devices to read the emails sent to them via the school.

In many ways this should not come as much surprise for the latest findings from Movable Ink, who undertake surveys on the use of mobile devices and emails, have concluded that in the last quarter of 2013 65% of emails were opened on either a smartphone or tablet.

What’s more, the growth in this habit of using mobile devices to handle emails is continuing. The 65% figure is up from 61% in just three months.

Over 16% of emails were opened on a tablet, and this percentage is growing too. Interestingly, people reading on tablets tend to spend longer reading, presumably because of the ease of use for longer messages.

As yet I’ve not been able to find a report that says exactly when people in the UK are most likely to use their smart phones and ipads to open emails, but there is research in the USA which shows that public holidays were the biggest days for opening emails on mobile devices.

I don’t think it is too much of a leap to take it that the same sort of situation will apply to teachers in the UK – that they will be using mobile devices to read their messages during holiday periods.

All of this leads us to see that whereas in the days when the only way to communicate with teachers was through the post, holidays were a no-advertising period, school holidays are now as open to communicating with teachers as any other time.

But, of course, this comes with pros and cons.

There are three reasons for advertising via email during school holidays. First that is cheaper, second that the amount of email being received by teachers via their personal email addresses is small (and so those who do it are by-passing the competition), and third that the teacher for once is not rushed and so can consider matters at a more leisurely pace.

Of course, if the teacher sees a product or service he/she likes it may be thought that the teacher may not be able to take immediate action to buy.

This can be overcome if the product is a lower cost item and you make it simple for the teacher to place an order by phone, email, post, etc.

Additionally, for more expensive products, the holiday-time email can be one that gets the teacher thinking, reviewing the website details and so forth. Then if you follow up with an advert during the first few weeks after the school returns you can get the order more rapidly, as the teacher is simply reminded at this time of something he/she has already seen.

This is especially valuable since, during these opening weeks of term, teachers are often particularly busy. But if all the reading and checking has happened during the holiday, the result can be that on seeing the second email the teacher is reminded and so orders.

To help with this approach Hamilton House offers a special holiday + term time email service. In effect this means that the email that goes out in the school holidays is sent completely free of charge – you just pay for the term time email.

Better still, if you have not used our personal email services before, you can still get the 30% first time user discount on the term time email.

To make use of this facility the free, school holiday email must be despatched by 28 April, and the term-time mailing must go out by 19 May.

The text of the emails does not have to be the same – indeed I’d suggest they are not the same, but I’ll come back to the point of what it is best to say, in my next promotion.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to email one of our lists during the first few weeks of term, but instead only want to email in the school holiday, we still have holiday dates available for just £99. This allows you to have an email sent out on one of our secondary school email lists for £99 at any time until 30 April.

To follow up either the Holiday + Term email offer, or the Holiday email for £99 offer, please do call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

If you would like to see a full list of the personal emails that we have available, they are described on www.emails.gs

Tony Attwood


What to do in April


Posted on 11th April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Two very low cost offers for reaching teachers in April 

Successful selling is invariably part planning, part testing, part good fortune.

The planning relates to working out a regular schedule of when to advertise. The testing involves putting new adverts into that schedule and trying the different media that are available.

And those two activities create what outsiders generally consider the good fortune: getting the right advert out in the right medium at exactly the right time.

Which is another way of saying that good fortune isn’t good fortune at all. It comes from constant testing, planning, inspiration, insight and (most annoyingly) hard work.

But it needs to be done, because if you don’t keep trying out new ideas in your advertising, you won’t be able to try out enough ideas to have the good fortune to put out exactly the right advert at exactly the right time.

To put a personal spin on it, the two most successful advertisements aimed at teachers (which each earned over £10,000 profit from a single mailshot) were both first attempts at advertising a new product, but both used all the information and knowledge I had gained from hundreds of previous campaigns.

Indeed, it is because my colleagues and I believe so much in the need to keep advertising and to keep testing that we keep offering marketing opportunities with extras and opportunities at highly discounted prices.

Let me, if I may, remind you of a couple of examples that are running at the moment.

First there’s the shared postal mailing with a free personal email campaign, plus a free listing on UK Education News. Shared postal mailings allow you to send a leaflet to schools for far less than the cost of postage.

The free email campaign which comes with the postal campaign, delivers your message to the personal email address of teachers of your choice – while the UK Education News listing will reinforce your promotion. (You don’t have to use the same advert for the postal and the email campaign).

There are details on www.shared.org.uk The next mailing is on 25 April 2014 (delivery of leaflets needed by April 17).

Second, if you don’t want to undertake a postal campaign you can have a mailing to any secondary school personal email list for £99.00 plus VAT during April – subject to availability.

When I mentioned this offer before we did take quite a few bookings, and we do limit the number of emails we will send out each week, so it is worth enquiring sooner rather than later. The list of our secondary school email lists is here: http://www.emails.gs/Secondarynamedlist.html

I would add one extra point here concerning emails during April.

The Summer Term is the term when LA schools have their new money, while the academies, free schools and most independents have their final term of spending before the end of the financial year, so it is the most important term in the selling calendar.

However, in the dim and distant one never used to think of promoting during the school holidays, as teachers were not in school. Now, however, many more heads of department do check their emails from their home computers or their phones – and email their orders into the school office to be dealt with whenever the administrators are on site (which is larger schools is virtually all the time).

But the number of promotions received in the holidays remains small, and so each email that is sent gets more attention (not least because the teachers have more time to consider each promotion).

If you have any enquiries about the shared postal promotion with the free email campaign or the email campaign during April for £99 please do call 01536 399 000. To make a booking please email chris@hamilton-house.com

Last, if you want some guidance on how to write and design a shared mailing leaflet, we have an article on that subject here.

Tony Attwood

The perfect message to deliver to teachers


Posted on 9th April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the most powerful message that you deliver to a teacher within an advert?

Tens of thousands of adverts are sent to teachers each year. Some use standard advertising techniques, some follow their own paths. But one technique has been shown to stand out when it comes to results.

Just about the most powerful message you can deliver to a teacher is one that says, this product will help you raise the level of learning and increase the grades of your pupils and students.

Now that may not be a particularly revolutionary notion, but tucked away with this piece of knowledge are several other insights which, if you can apply them to your product or service, will greatly enhance your response rate.

To understand how to make this simple insight work, it is necessary to look at the way in which rewards work when offered to people who are already doing ok in their lives.

The answer is that anything that offers a reward to the individual will work well. Anything that offers a reward that this individual can pass onto others will generally work much better.

By way of example, consider an experiment reported this week in New Scientist magazine.

The experiment itself tested different ways of improving healthy behaviour with the participants being offered a cash reward in return for improving their healthy behaviour through taking more exercise and eating healthier produce.

When the reward was offered directly to the participants in the experiment it had the sort of effect expected.

But when that same reward was offered such that it would be given to the nominated friends of the people in the experiment, the effect was four times as great.

In other words, where someone else with whom we have some sort of relationship benefits from our actions we do more and try harder than if we alone benefit.

This may seem extraordinary since our traditional beliefs about reward suggest that we work hardest to get the reward if the reward is given to us. But no – people work harder to get the reward if the beneficiaries are others with whom they have a positive link.

In short, convince the teacher that if he/she uses your product or service the pupils or students will benefit, and you will get the biggest response.

Now many advertisers, on hearing this, suggest that they already follow this advice implicitly by saying that their book covers the syllabus and their program “makes learning fun”.

But this is nowhere enough. You have to make it clear that your product or service will be the equivalent of the teacher giving the pupil and students something precious.

Indeed there is some evidence that “make learning fun” has a negative impact on advertising, probably because it appears to trivialise schooling, while suggesting that teachers are unable to make learning enjoyable on their own.

To pull this research together, what it all suggests is that instead of focussing our advertising on the benefit to the individual we should be considering the individual in the group.

Now viral marketing does this brilliantly. It creates an advert which is different from the norm but which will appeal to the group who happily pass it on to friends. Finding the original and passing it on gives one the buzz of friendship and giving – without it actually costing anything!

So we are not talking about making the teacher’s lessons better or easier, but about making the teacher’s work beneficial to the school. The teacher aids the community – and it is that action of benefiting everyone that makes the teacher feel good.

This means that the ultimate advertising message is, “Use my product and everyone else will benefit too.”

For many groups of people this is quite a hard sell, but for teachers it is an approach that can be readily adopted.

This is the sort of approach that is being adopted in many of the adverts we write for our customers who are members of the Velocity programme. Such companies get their writing for free and the use of our personal email lists for about 5p each – sometimes less.

There are details of Velocity at www.velocity.ac or you can call 01536 399 000 or email Laura@hamilton-house.com for more information. If you can give Laura a link to your website that will help us write back with our thoughts on how Velocity could specifically help your company.

As always, our thoughts and ideas come with no obligation. We’re quite nice like that.

Tony Attwood

Why some firms get their education marketing right


Posted on 7th April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is it that some companies know which enables them to get their advertising right, straight from the off?

“Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”

Steve Jobs made this comment against the notion of market research when he launched the ipad to a disbelieving and unimpressed press corps who thought no one would buy one.

But who could argue with Steve Jobs?

Well me, for a start. Because…

There are two types of research. The type of research that Steve Jobs decried was the type that asks questions about the non-existent such as , “if this existed would you like it?” and “if this were in the shop how much would you pay?”

These are totally hypothetical questions, and by and large utterly pointless simply because they are hypothetical. Those questions rarely give usable results.

But the other type of research which asks questions about the here and now, can prove very useful. I can’t prove it, but I would be surprised if someone somewhere in Appleland did not do research which asked people questions such as, “what is the most annoying thing about your laptop?”

Asking those type of questions they might not have known what they were looking for, but they might well have been interested by the fact that portable computers couldn’t be held in the hand, while the buttons of the mobile phone were just too small.

And that is often where market research can score.

Let me give you examples of just three of the many market research programmes my company has run both for our clients and our subsidiaries.

First, we had a client who was selling a program that was aimed at teachers of 7 year old boys who were very reluctant readers. We were given the brief and advertised the program – and got nothing out of our advertising.

Naturally we had a rather unhappy client on our hands. But fortunately the client was open minded enough to be able to take advice. We suggested that the client should do some market research based on a single open question which was:

If you have any boys in your class aged between 7 and 9, and they were extremely reluctant readers what software would you use to help encourage them to read?

Now the answer clearly should have been, “none – because there isn’t any”. But in fact we got hundreds of replies mostly pointing us towards three rival products – products which our client said were “nothing like” their product.

So we changed the adverts so that they stressed all the things our client’s product did, which the products cited by teachers didn’t do. Those ads never mentioned the competition, but they certainly hit home to anyone using the rival products.

In another example we were asked to advertise air conditioning units to schools. The MD of the company was wholly against research on the grounds that “you can use figures to prove anything” and that his salespeople reported back to him that schools wanted air conditioning.

But our advertising campaign failed to bring in new customers, and we were kicked out by the firm.

Now I really do like to think I know how to write adverts, and when I fail (which fortunately is rarely) I like to know why. So I took it upon myself to undertake the research that we had wanted the company to do – asking schools if they had air conditioning, if so for what purpose, and if not, if they were thinking of installing any in the next year.

What we found was that about half of all schools had some form of air conditioning – perhaps just for the school office, just for some IT equipment, or in some cases, to maintain temperature in some class rooms that were prone to very high temperatures.

Further, we found that the schools that had air conditioning by and large would consider more air con, better air con and updated air con. However, the schools that didn’t have air conditioning took the view that no schools had air conditioning and that we were wasting their time with such a stupid notion. Air conditioning in a school? The very idea!

It was an utterly vital piece of information to have, for it meant that once a company had a chart of which schools had the air conditioning, then they would have a list of their potential customers. It didn’t help our client, since they had gone by the time the results came in, but it reassured those of us working on the creative side at Hamilton House that we hadn’t lost our touch!

My final example involves one of our own companies: the School of Educational Administration and Management. SEAM runs courses on school efficiency, and last year we were looking for new ways to advertise them.

What we did here was to survey school administrators and ask them how much unpaid overtime they had to do, and whether they were involved in any programmes to help improve school efficiency.

We found that, as we had guessed from incidental evidence, the vast majority were doing unpaid overtime every week, while only a minority were engaged with school efficiency programmes that would overcome this need. From this we had our new advertising campaign…

Unpaid overtime at the level existing in schools is unsustainable, but the weapon to eliminate it is in the school’s own hands – get the administrators involved in looking for efficiencies by using our course materials.

Research programmes like this can produce information which can radically change one’s whole approach to advertising – and such research costs very little. Indeed companies that are part of our Velocity programme are able to undertake such research within the programme without paying a penny.

If you would like to discuss how we might use research to expand your sales and gain you a competitive advantage, how much it would cost, or how you can join the Velocity programme please do call 01536 399 000. There is also more information on Velocity at www.velocity.ac

Alternatively, if you prefer please do email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood


Talk to teachers often, don’t say the same thing, don’t pay too much.


Posted on 2nd April 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the lowest cost way to engage in constant marketing to teachers without boring them with repeated messages?

There is no doubt that the best way to engage in direct marketing to schools is to advertise very regularly. For me the minimum sort of run one needs is three emails a month, but with no one ever receiving the same message twice.

Of course, endlessly changing the message can be a challenge, as can sending out all those emails, but there is a solution – and that solution can be impressive.

For example, imagine you wanted to reach primary heads or deputies throughout the year – and you decided to do it three times a month. The result could be around half a million emails sent out, with around 36 different messages used.

That’s not too difficult to contemplate if you have lots of different products to sell, but if you have one major product then that would involve 36 different ways of writing about it. It is possible, but it takes a bit of skill and practice.

With secondary schools the number of messages might be the same – 36 during the course of the year if you are doing three a month, but the volume of emails sent might be closer to 100,000.

That’s not to say that it is not worth selling to secondaries, far from it. These figures recognise the fact that there are fewer secondary schools but they are a lot larger than the primaries and with more money to spend.

So – three problems can arise. Two I have touched upon: first, how to send out all these emails without getting blocked or rejected by such companies as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor (or the schools themselves), and second, how to write exciting advertising that will intrigue and interest the teachers.

But there is a third – how on earth to keep the costs under control?

These are the three questions that we’ve worked to resolve over the years – creating ever changing adverts that people will read, getting the adverts into the schools via email, and keeping the costs down.

Not only have we achieved that, but over the years we’ve also added some free extras. Extras like free research of teacher attitudes in relation to your product area, free coverage in UK Education News and Teacher News (which can add considerably to the readership) and as much consultation, advice and guidance as is required.

All of these wonderful things are bundled into the Velocity programme – for a cost of £495 per month. When selling to secondary schools that works out at about 5p per email sent, including the cost of writing the copy, and with UK Education News and Teacher News included free. For Primary school campaigns the cost per email is, of course, even lower.

There is more on Velocity at www.velocity.ac or to talk it through in relation to you and your business, please do phone 01536 399 000.

We are, by and large, mostly harmless.

Tony Attwood

Advertise to primary and secondary schools – for free


Posted on 31st March 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

I know we can generate sales for you from schools. Which is why we do it for nothing.

You may have seen me mention the “commission only” approach to advertising to schools before. If so you might remember that I’ve invariably said, “secondary schools only”, simply because we’ve had a queue of customers who sell to primary schools and are waiting to take up the offer.

We restrict our number of clients in order to ensure that our personal email lists don’t get overused – and so it has taken a while for that waiting list of clients to be processed.

But now we do have a vacancy which allows us to take on another company that sells to primary schools – as well as a few remaining slots for firms that sell into some sectors of the secondary market

To be clear – there is nothing at all to pay up front. You submit the adverts you want to send out and we’ll do that as and when we have space in our schedules. You tell us the sales you get and pay the agreed commission on each sale.

And there is a bonus. You’ll also get links into some of our websites – sites such as www.ukeducationnews.co.uk that can bring in up to 80,000 visits a month. These sites will also generate enquiries and sales – it is all part of the service.

We can even experiment with selling your products to certain overseas markets if you wish.

Of course, it would be lovely if I could say that we’ve succeeded with every single product or service we have taken on in this way, but if I did, I would be giving you less than the truth. Successful selling depends on both the product and the advert, so there are no absolute guarantees.

But for most customers who have joined in this “payment by results” the results have been very worthwhile and have encouraged them to want to stay with us.

If you have a product or service that sells to primary or secondary schools and you’d like to advertise through Hamilton House on the understanding that you just pay an agreed commission on each sale you get, then please email Stephen@hamilton-house.com with the details of the product or service and the approximate value of each sale.

If you want any further details of the technicalities of the service please do call 01536 399 000.

If you have a copy of a recent advert that you have placed, it would be interesting to see that too – although that’s not obligatory.

Once we have heard from you we’ll come back with our thoughts on how we can proceed.

Tony Attwood

Personal email lists of secondary teachers for £99 plus VAT


Posted on 28th March 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

When is the most cost effective time for emailing
heads of departments in secondary schools?

During the whole of April you can email your messages to personal email addresses of secondary heads of department and senior managers for just £99 plus VAT per list. This represents a discount of around 60% on the normal price.

But, you may ask, is it worthwhile emailing then?

The answer for many companies is yes. So many teachers now pick up their emails either on mobile devices or on their computers at home that they will be as likely to see their email in April as in any other month.

However the number of emails teachers receive during April is considerably lower than during most times of the year, and thus the impact of an email in April can be considerably greater.

What’s more, if you also want to include an email to the personal email lists of heads of departments in further and/or higher education you can do that for an extra £10 plus VAT. And if you want to email LA advisers in a particular subject, again that’s an extra £10 plus VAT.

To clarify these points: you can select any email list you wish from http://www.emails.gs/Secondarynamedlist.html and we will email that list for you for £99 plus VAT.

Then if you want to go further you can also email any FE and/or HE list for an additional £10. You can also select one of the LA advisers’ lists for a further £10. But please note these additional purchases are not available on their own – the price only applies when they are ordered along with a teachers’ list for £99.00.

For the email you will need to supply us with either a text only Word file or an HTML document for us to send. If you want advice on writing successful emails you might like to start with this article on the secrets of successful advertising.

The number of emails we send out each week is strictly limited. Indeed the last time we ran this offer through a holiday period we sold out the allocation on some of the lists very quickly indeed. If you want to book in for a specific week it may well be worthwhile emailing Chris@hamilton-house.com sooner rather than later to secure the slot you want.

If you have any questions please do call 01536 399 000, but please note that we cannot accept bookings on the phone – we do need them in writing.

Tony Attwood


Show me the results before I pay


Posted on 26th March 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Payment by results advertising to teachers takes a further step forward

Selling products and services to schools without actually paying for the advertising is a particularly attractive proposition – especially if you have just spent most of your capital on developing the business and getting your product to market.

In essence the approach is simple – you provide us with an advert for a product aimed at teachers; we then send out the advert by email, and you pay us a commission at an agreed rate on each sale you get.

Quite simply, if there are no sales, you don’t pay.

All that is very simple and very straightforward. But it comes with one problem: what actually does happen if you get very few or indeed no sales?

Now if you have read my ramblings on the subject of selling to schools in the past you will know that I hold the view that there are three fundamental factors that influence how many orders a product will get. These are:

  1. The product or service itself, and whether teachers are willing to pay the price you are charging
  2. The list that is used to reach these teachers
  3. The way the advert is written.

If all goes well from the off, you’ll be very happy, and we’ll keep on running the advert for you. But if the advert doesn’t work – what then?

If we get to a stage where the sales are just not coming in, and if we think we can get the sales up with a better advert, we will create a completely new advert to use with your product. There won’t be any charge to you up front, but we will ask for a higher percentage payment on each sale.

Now of course nothing will happen without your say-so, so if you don’t want us to experiment with our own advertising copy, then that’s fine, we’ll stop at that point. If you do, we’ll let you know the new percentage that we require, and we’ll go ahead with the new copy.

At present we are looking to promote new products and services to secondary schools – with the exception of items aimed at heads and deputy heads. Unfortunately we have no further vacancies for products aimed at teachers in primary schools.

If you have a product you think we can sell, on a payment by results basis, please do send the details of the product or service to Stephen@hamilton-house.com


Tony Attwood
Hamilton House Mailings Ltd   

How to get more sales from each advert


Posted on 24th March 2014 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the most effective way of increasing the return on each advert you create?

Over the years advertising to teachers has effectively become stuck in a groove. A groove in which companies that provide stuff tell teachers that they provide stuff. They go on and on providing stuff, until the teachers show that they have had enough and start buying from someone else.

Yet, despite this, many firms go on advertising to schools in the same way, year after year.

Which is odd, because everyone knows that schools have changed. And yet the style of advertising hasn’t changed.

Now there can be a very good reason given for going on and on writing in the same style this year as you did last year, and the year before. That reason is summarised in the phrase, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

And in advertising there is a great temptation, of course, to obey this dictum, for when your advertising is bringing in the goods there’s really no reason to want to change it.

Now there are two problems with this.

The first is that repeating the same, or a similar style of advertising, not only reduces sales in the end, it also reduces the impact that your company has on the market. For just as teachers can guess what your next advert will look like, so can your competitors.

While the chances are that most of your competitors are also following the “if it ain’t broke” dictum, there will always be one or two that are experimenting with alternatives. And so, when teachers get to the stage that they feel that they want a change, one or two of your competitors will be there ready to take up the slack.

However. this issue of opposing the “if it ain’t broke” approach and changing the advertising before it loses its appeal, does not mean that you need to alter the entire look and feel of each advert.

Not at all. What you should do is introduce some variety into your advertising as you go along marketing’s merry way. Ideally you need to find something that makes them say, “wow!”

That “wow” can be a new product or it can be a new approach to your advertising. Either way it really does make them take note.

To give an example from the Hamilton House approach – a lot of our advertising takes the form of articles like this which are sent out by email and placed on our three blogs.

But we also throw in what is (I am told) called in cricketing parlance, a googly. At present, our googly is thrown towards the end of each week on the Direct Marketing Secrets blog where we run a story from the infamous Toppled Bollard public house.

These tales are not to everyone’s taste, but since we started the current series about six weeks ago, the readership of the DMS blog has gone up about 35%.

If you’ve not seen the blog you might want to visit the most miserable village in England or consider the Bollard’s regulars’ attempt to evolve a new way to grab attention.

When we dropped the series a few years ago we replaced it with reviews of two or three real life and fairly appalling email adverts each week. “How to be very silly” was an example. If you want to see more, just go back from that point on the blog.

What I am trying to say is that our style (lots of text, analyses, and some rather freaky humour) stays the same, but we do make changes as we go. Our approach is the same, but each email and blog entry is different.

Yes we see our competitors copy us, but by the time they do we have usually moved on to somewhere new. Somewhere still very “Hamilton House” but just that bit different from before.

Thus my view is that if you don’t do this – if you stay with the same style of advertising for teachers all the time (even though the products might change) – then ultimately you come unstuck.

And it is this sort of thing we try to avoid with our Velocity clients – pushing matters on while retaining the recognisable approach of the company.

In essence, the advertising is like a fast flowing river. The boat stays the same, the way downstream is always the same, but what is on the shoreline changes. (I thought that was quite profound and rather Taoist when I dreamed it up, but now I’m not at all sure.)

If you would like to know more about Velocity, and how we can develop your advertising over time, please do call 01536 399 000. Or please do visit www.velocity.ac It’s mostly harmless.

Tony Attwood