Where is the blockage?

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Posted on 21st May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Combining a review of the website, the way the promotions are written and the offer can be invaluable – and can be done for free.

The most successful promotions to teachers are those in which the sales letter or email, the website, and the offer itself work together in perfect harmony, delivering a unified message as to why the product is so good and why the teacher should buy it.

In one sense that seems obvious, but my own observation (reading, as I do, dozens of adverts to teachers each week) is that the majority of promotions to teachers don’t work as well as they could, simply because the offer, promotion and web page are not unified.

And that lack of unification of the three key elements in every promotion turns out to be the prime cause for lower than hoped for sales in virtually every case we see.

To help overcome this, we now offer all our new Velocity clients a free “combined review” of their recent promotions, their offer and their website. (The review is also on offer to non-Velocity companies – details are below.)

For our new Velocity customers it comes right at the start of the Velocity campaign and does not count as one of the monthly projects that is at the heart of Velocity. So if you sign up for us to design, write and transmit three emails a month, you’ll still get that in the first month – along with the combined review. Existing Velocity customers can simply ask for the combined review at any time, and we’ll undertake it, again without any charge.

What the combined review generates is a detailed report on the overall impact your website, your emails and the offer you are making, so you can decide if you want to change anything.

Let me give an example:

The “offer” is often seen by companies as something that is fixed. “We sell history books, so that is the offer,” they might say. But in fact this is not the case. The “offer” is not so much the product, as the reason why the teacher should buy your product. In short the benefit.

The notion of benefit is then combined with the “unique selling point”, and the answer to the two prime questions, “why should I buy this?” and “why should I buy it from you?”

In short, the benefit, USP, and answers to the questions should combine across the offer in the promotion and within the landing page to give a singularly powerful message which says, “this product is something that you absolutely need, now.”

Of course, we are not the first people to talk about things like the unique selling point, but we do focus very strongly on the “unique” element of the USP. Because we watch the education market day by day we tend to know just how unique each “unique” claim is and can suggest ways in which is can be developed. To put it simply, we know what works.

Our report also considers just how easy it is to use your website and how powerful the sales point for each product is. We also review exactly where we think changes to the website will make a powerful and important difference.

In this way we ensure that the offer, the website and the promotion are all working in harmony and all generating as many sales as possible.

Then, through monitoring the number of opens each email gets and the number of clicks from email to web page, along of course with your reports about the number of sales you are getting, we can suggest what changes need to be made.

If you’ve read my commentaries on marketing on the Hamilton House blog you will know that we’ve proven over and over again that it is often very tiny changes to the offer, the website and the promotional text and design that can make huge differences to the number of sales. And that is what we aim to deliver.

As I say, Velocity customers can now have this combined review free of charge. If you are not a Velocity customer you will find more information about the service on www.velocity.ac or, if you prefer, just call 01536 399 000.

If on the other hand you would like the review, without joining Velocity, we can do this for just £100 plus VAT. Then if you subsequently choose to join Velocity, we will discount the cost of your first month in Velocity by the same amount.

Tony Attwood

The last chance of the year

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Posted on 18th May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

This is the moment when schools are buying. This is the last free email and postal shared campaign of the school year.

It is doubtful if there has ever been an end of the academic year like this one. And that is for one simple reason. Next September the school population is going to be at the highest level ever recorded in the history of Great Britain.

This means schools are starting to spend money on everything from new buildings to new books, new software to new desks, new office systems to new playground equipment. It is being ordered now, ready for next term.

Of course, the companies that are getting the orders are those who are in touch with the schools now, reminding the schools of their presence in the market and informing the schools of any special offers that they have.

With this in mind we are offering a free email campaign using any one of our secondary school personal email lists to every company that joins in our final postal shared mailing to secondary schools this term.

In addition you also get a free advertisement on UK Education News and on our other education news sites.

As I say, this is the final shared postal mailing – and thus the final offer of a free email campaign using our personal email lists for this school year. The next promotion of this type will be available in September.

For the June 2nd mailing we need the leaflets delivered to our warehouse in Northants by 26 May – although if you are sending out a black on white one-sided leaflet we can print that for you for free.

There is a lot of information about postal shared mailings on the Shared Mailing Website and in particular I’d mentioned the page on how one should write and design a leaflet for a shared mailing which a number of our customers have said gave them some good insights.

If you would like to talk this through, or indeed request a free copy of a shared mailing pack, please do call 01536 399 000.

Or if you have a specific enquiry you can email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

How important is a hit on your website?

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Posted on 14th May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

What is the simplest way to get more teachers onto your website without spending a fortune on advertising?

Here’s a simple and obvious fact: your website is there to attract teachers and then convert them to the idea that they ought to place an order with you.

But that raises the question: how? Or better put, how can you get more and more teachers onto your website without having to spend a fortune in advertising?

I’ve been puzzling over this problem for a while, and I think I’ve recently come up with an interesting solution.

Which is why we have introduced the latest variant on our payment by results service. We will undertake an email promotional campaign to the teachers of your choice and only charge you for each hit your landing page gets as a result of the campaign.

All you have to do is give us the promotional copy to send out, and we will undertake the email campaign for you. At the end of the promotion we’ll count how many people clicked on the link to your website, and then invoice you at a rate of 99p per hit.

Then, if you wish, we can send you a list of the email addresses of the people who went onto your website from the promotional email. If you want that list as well, there is a charge of 60p per address.

As part of the process we will also send you a report on your web page in which we make suggestions on how your web page might be developed in order to enhance the number of purchases you get as a result of hits on your web page.

If you choose the second option of having a list of the email addresses of people who have gone onto your website as a result of the campaign we’ll also send you a report on the do’s and don’ts in terms of writing to them afterwards.

Of course, there is no need for you to take any notice of our reports – but if at any time you feel that not enough people who come to the site then go on to buy, you may well find that our report tells you exactly what you need to know.

One other point to make: in the standard Payment by Results programme payment is made to us in terms of an agreed commission when a sale is made. In this PbR programme there is no commission payment, just a payment for each person we manage to send to your site.

If you would like to know more about these new approaches to the Hamilton House Payment by Results method of advertising, please do call Steve Mister on 01536 399 000 or email Stephen@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

The lowest cost school databases

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Posted on 12th May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

By far the most cost effective way of buying school data is to buy it on a 12 month licence.

Most companies selling to schools now recognise that they have to mix and match their media, promoting via email, the post and on-line – and being ready to ring the school if there is a query with a particular order.

Some companies, of course, like to hand over the work to us, either as a one-off job or on a “Velocity” contract – and if you are interested in that please do call 01536 399 000. But if you like to handle the promotions within your own office, then we are happy to provide you with all the data you will need.

This data includes the name of the headteacher, the school’s address and phone number, the generic e-mail address of the school, the number of pupils, and the source of funding of the school.

The list allows you to select schools by the number of pupils, by county or postcode, and, should you wish, just mail the independent schools, the free schools, etc, etc.

It also means that you will be able to do short run testing to see if your approach works or to focus campaigns on specific types of schools if you find most of your sales come through one particular source.

All the data comes in a spreadsheet format and can either be provided as a file attached to an email or on a CD sent to you via the post. You can use it as often as you like, and the only restriction is that you don’t pass it on to a third party.

Three options are available:

  • All 5000 Secondary schools – 12 month licence: £299
  • The 5000 largest Primary schools – 12 month licence: £299
  • All 22700 Primary schools – 12 month licence: £999

All orders come with a free report on ways of increasing your response rates when emailing schools.

There is an additional charge of £4.95 for the CD and its delivery.

Just one final note. Please do remember if you are not geared up for bulk emailing, and that is a central reason for purchasing the list, we can undertake this for you using the same list. Please call 01536 399 000 for more details.

To order any of the complete school databases please email Chris@hamilton-house.com If you would like to see an overview of what Hamilton House has been up to of late, please do take a look at www.educationmarketing.org.uk

Tony Attwood

The key moment

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Posted on 11th May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

This is the key moment for selling to schools, as everyone plans for the bumper intake next September.

There are numerous reasons why this is an ideal time to promote to schools. LA schools have their new budgets in place, while Academies and independent schools are using up the final bits of this year’s budget.

And, meanwhile, everyone is planning for what could well be a chaotic start to the next school year when the largest ever intake of pupils and students hits the schools in one big go thanks to the population rise and the school leaving age now at 18.

So what does this mean for those of us who sell to schools?

Quite simply it means that this is the time to get adverts into schools, which is why we’ve brought into play our new Stand By service for emails, to give you the chance to reach schools at half the normal price.

The stand by email service uses personal email lists to reach senior managers and heads of departments – lists that typically have far more impact than lists where all the emails go into the school office in the hope of being passed on.

In essence you get your emails at half price (i.e. 6p each when reaching secondary schools and 3p or 4.5p each for primary schools). That price includes the transmission cost as well as the use of the list.

In return for this discount, we choose the date upon which your advert goes out. It will be in the next two weeks, and it won’t be at a weekend or a school holiday.

Customers who pay for the full price can choose the exact day for transmission, and, if they wish, we’ll also write and design the email for them.

And we do still offer our generic email list for you to undertake your own mailing with – the primary and secondary list – available for just £59.99.

Recognising the importance of the rest of the school year up to the end of August, we have found that quite a few companies have been booking in some way in advance, so I would suggest it is probably worth getting bookings in sooner rather than later.

Of course, there are many other alternatives – I wrote recently for example about our “3 media” approach in which if you book into a postal shared mailing, then you get a personal email campaign free of charge. But the bookings there are also filling up – so action sooner rather than later might be a good idea.

To discuss any of these options or any other way of reaching schools, please do call 01536 399 000 or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

Postal shared mailings on the up

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Posted on 11th May 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

Why is it that postal shared mailings have
returned to favour?

There has been quite an increase in postal shared mailings this year, and with the May mailing now closed to bookings, I peeked ahead to the 2nd June postal shared mailing to secondary schools and found that we already had several bookings for that one as well.

I think the reason for the increase in growth is the combination of a postal campaign with a free personal email campaign that this service uniquely brings.

In addition you get a free advertisement on UK Education News and on our other education news sites.

This is what is known as the 3Media approach (the post via the shared mailing; the personal email campaign; and the website listings through various sites), and, as I start to take stock of this educational year and think forward to the next, I do really feel that the 3Media approach has worked.

In effect what it means is that for around 9p per teacher (reducing to under 6p per teacher if you put two into one shared mailing pack to different teachers) you get that leaflet sent to all 5000 secondary schools, plus a personal email campaign to that teacher and the website coverage.

There is a lot of information about postal shared mailings on the Shared Mailing Website and in particular I’d mention the page on how one should write and design a leaflet for a shared mailing which a number of our customers have said gave them some good insights.

So, pulling this together, if you want to get a leaflet to the teacher of your choice in 5000 secondary schools, and have an email campaign via the teachers’ personal email addresses, and a listing on our various educational websites, you can do this for £450.

If you would like to talk this through, or indeed request a free copy of a shared mailing pack, please do call 01536 399 000. If you want to see what sort of email list you could use as part of this approach, you can see that here.

Or if you have a specific enquiry you can email Chris@hamilton-house.com

The next postal shared mailing goes out on 2nd June, which means we need the leaflets delivered to our warehouse in Northants on 26 May. If you would like to be included and then also get a free email campaign and a free listing on UK Education News please do get in touch now.

And as a final bonus, our free print offer is still running. If you want us to print your leaflet, black on white, one side on 80gsm, as part of your shared postal campaign, we’ll most certainly do that for you, free of charge.

Tony Attwood

The four things that get a school to buy your product

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Posted on 27th April 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

One of the attractions of selling to schools is that all one has to do in order to get a sale is work through four steps.

First, one needs to have a offer that teachers find exciting and interesting, available at a price they feel is reasonable.

Second, one needs to grab the teachers attention, so that instead of deleting the email without reading it or throwing the letter straight in the bin, they look, they skim it, and then they settle down to read it more fully.

Third, one needs a list – either of postal or email addresses and then fourth one needs to be able to send the communications out, either with a bulk sending program for email or a warehouse that can fill and despatch the envelopes.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3. And four.

Which raises just one point: what happens if you are not fully geared up to undertake one or more of these four steps?

Fortunately, there is no problem, because if you are missing one or more of these four elements then I think I may be able to help you – not least because Hamilton House has three different companies that sell to schools. And for each of these companies we work through these four steps.

Thus we are experimenting all the time, changing our practice and refining the theory of how selling to schools works. Better still, we are always happy to share all our knowledge with you.

Indeed no matter which part of the process you’d like help with – we can certainly help. And we give advice without charging a penny.

But there is more, because we always have other offers available.

For example, if you have never tried our personal email lists before we’ll give you a 30% discount on your first order.

Alternatively, if you are willing to let us choose the date when your email will go out in the next two weeks (and excluding weekends), we’ll give you a 50% discount.

If you want us to design and write your email for you, we’ll do that free of charge if you are using our personal lists. If you have your own email sending program we can let you have a list of almost all the primary and secondary schools email addresses for £59.95.

There are very few restrictions on these offers – but there is one, which is that they can’t be combined. So if you want us to do the free writing and design of an email for a campaign, you can’t also have the 50% discount. Sorry about that, but even the world-famous generosity of Hamilton House has a limit!

There are details of all our various email lists on www.emails.gs – just look down the left side to find the particular type of list or service you want.

And here’s a final thought: supposing you would like help through the whole process – having us writing and designing, using our lists, having Hamilton House send out the emails, and making use of our knowledge to edge up your response rates all the time.

That’s certainly possible, and it is all done at a huge discount on the prices for individual work. There are details here.

However, with so many options available maybe the best thing is simply to call us on 01536 399 000, tell us where you have got to, and we’ll make suggestions on what might happen next. There’s obviously no charge and no obligation, and we’ll come up with lots of ideas.

After all, the unknown will always be boundless.

Tony Attwood

The secret of successful selling to teachers

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Posted on 23rd April 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

If you get these three factors right when emailing schools you are bound to increase your sales dramatically.

You may have noted me say before that if one wants to get really good responses to one’s advertising to schools one needs not only to have a product or service that teachers want, but one also has to consider three other vital factors.

Indeed, for many companies it the way they approach these three factors that makes the difference as to whether they sell a lot or very little.

So, without more ado, here are the three factors…

First, one needs an advert written in a way that grabs the attention of those who see it. After all, if you don’t grab attention, then no one is going to look at the advert, and so no one is going to buy.

Second, one needs a good personal email list in order to make sure that the emails reach the right person.

And third, one needs a delivery system that gets the advert to the teachers without them being stopped by interception filters.

Of course, if you have all three of these factors sorted out, then you are ready to sell your product or service to teachers straight away and you should be able to gain considerable sales.

But we recognise that in many cases we have customers who perhaps don’t have one of these components or who wish to experiment by using different lists or having a different creative approach. And so we have come up with some options.

One solution we have offered for a while is the Velocity service in which we can write and design your emails and send them out to teachers using our personal email lists.

Then when you wish to try a different approach you can take over the writing and design – and in this way get more emails sent out each month, but without any increase in price. Velocity is described on www.velocity.ac

If you want to have one or more emails written and designed for you without being part of our Velocity monthly contract programme we can do this free of charge when you choose to email any of our personal email lists.

These lists are detailed on www.emails.gs – just click on secondary or primary on the left hand side to see the lists available. All prices include transmission.

On the other hand, if you have no need of our writing and design skills and you have a little flexibility over the time of despatch, we can give you a 50% discount on any of our personal email mailing lists. Again there are details on our www.emails.gs website – click on the Stand By option.

With Stand By the emails will go out within two weeks of receiving your email and your booking – and they won’t ever go out at weekends or in school holidays.

But that’s not all. For whichever system you choose there is the option of a further 10% discount if you choose to pay before the email is despatched.

Probably the best way of considering all these options is to call 01536 399 000 and talk through the possibilities in relation to your own product or service. Or alternatively email Chris@hamilton-house.com and we’ll come back to you with our suggestions.

Tony Attwood

Up to 60% discount on personal emails in term time

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Posted on 20th April 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

The lowest cost way of sending personal emails to secondary school teachers just got even lower

Personal emails are one of the most successful ways of reaching teachers in schools – the email goes directly to the inbox of the individual teacher and tends to get an immediate reaction.

We have over 70,000 such email addresses of secondary school heads of department, which are selectable by the subject the teacher teaches or their specific area of responsibility in the school. So you can choose The Head of Music or The Senior ICT Technician, etc, etc.

However, such emails do normally cost more to send than generic emails (the ones that go via the school administrator) simply because of the cost of the research involved in building such lists.

But there is a way around this which in effect reduces the price of sending personal emails by 50% – rising to 60% in some circumstances.

If you want to book in a personal email and tell us exactly the date you want that email to go out, then yes, you will have to pay the full price.

But if you can give us two week’s lee-way then in return we will give you a 50% discount on the price. And we will also guarantee not to send the email out during the school holidays or at weekends.

(And don’t forget, if you have heard stories about some days being much better than others for sending out emails – call us before you act on them – they are not always true! We update our research on response levels against date of transmission regularly – and the results are surprising.)

The system works like this: you book in your email with us and send in either your HTML advert or the text you want to use, and we’ll schedule it at some time within the two weeks from the date of receipt of the advert. We will, of course, let you know when it is scheduled.

Then once the advert has gone out we will issue the invoice in the normal way. Or if you prefer you can have a further 10% discount by paying for the promotion when you send your email in.

Secondary school personal emails normally cost 12p each including transmission. Under the stand-by service they are just 6p each. With the pre-payment discount they are just 4.8p each.

There is a full list of all our secondary school personal email lists at http://emails.gs/Secondarynamedlist.html

Don’t forget, the two week count-down starts from the moment we receive your email. However if you want to check how busy our schedules are before you send your email in, you can do this, by phoning 01536 399 000 or emailing Chris@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

 

Does the design matter?

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Posted on 15th April 2015 by Tony Attwood in Uncategorized

When marketing to schools, how much impact does the design have on your response rate?

To give a short answer to the question above, everything matters. The product and the offer matter (in that you need to be offering a product that teachers want at a price they are willing to pay), the text matters, and the design and layout also matter.

However, the problem is that quite often it is easy to focus a lot on one or two of these elements (such as the offer) and to forget exactly how design and layout can be used to generate extra sales.

So one sometimes finds advertisers that can be quite good at creating layouts that look nice, but which don’t positively impact on making teachers buy this, rather than that, product or service.

Such a lack of focus has been enhanced by the tradition of A/B testing in which you send out two emails, or two leaflets, so that some schools selected at random get the A approach and some get the B.

This notion has led some people to believe that which leaflet or email works best is not predictable in advance – but this is not the case at all. In fact it is normally possible to predict exactly which design and offer will work best – as long as one knows what makes one design work better than another.

By way of example, let’s consider the shared postal mailing, which I mentioned in my last post.

When we started shared mailings over 30 years ago, our first job was to get more and more administrators to open our packs, and we achieve this by printing a letter from the School of Educational Administration (the school administrators’ association) on the coversheet – a letter which often offers something free. That gets them reading!

Having got the pack open, the next thing to ensure is that your leaflet is passed on to the relevant teacher by the school administrator. This is achieved by using an A4 leaflet and placing the phrase “Attn: Head of….” in large letters top right, with white space around it.

Experimentation then found that designs which have a headline of about 15 words in 14 to 16pt Arial bold about 7cm of the way down the page, surrounded by white-space, got higher response rates than others. (If you want to know why, give me a call!)

And then we found that if the headline suggested that the page offered some knowledge that would be of great help to the teacher or manager, but dealt with an issue which the administrator could not make a judgement upon, that helped best of all.

This knowledge of how the design, the text and the offer combine on the page is vital, for it can move a leaflet from having just one or two enquiries to 40 or more from a mailing.

Our next postal shared mailing to 5000 secondary schools goes out on 28 April, and as part of our “3 Media” programme comes with a free personal email campaign and a listing on the UK Education News website. We are also able to print the leaflet for you for just £20 if you wish – please call for details.

There is a lot more information on postal shared mailings on www.shared.org.uk – and of course you can call 01536 399 000 for further information, or email Chris@hamilton-house.com

We’ve still got a couple of places left for this mailing – but it will be worth calling quickly to secure your place. This is, as I mentioned in my last note, the term in which academy schools use up their money while LA schools have access to their funding for the new school year.

Because of the growth in the number of pupils and students at schools in the next academic year it could be a particularly important moment to advertise.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tony Attwood

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