What is the most effective way of grabbing your potential customer by  the throat?

Here’s something that I think you should never do: create an advertisement that tells the reader what you want her/him to do at the very start.

For I believe the very beginning of an email needs to stand out – and I don’t mean by writing a bigger headline or putting lots of words in bold, or by announcing a time limited special offer.  I mean by saying something so different and so unexpected that the reader is forced to read on.

The point is that your reader will be receiving lots of advertisements, plus internal school notices, and possibly emails from exam boards, parents, colleagues…

But despite this most people start their emails by saying things like “Early bird discount” or “Limited offer!”  Or they introduce themselves saying, “We are a family run business for whom service is…”

Consider the adverts that reach your email inbox and the subject line and headline that they use.  Ask yourself, “do they really FORCE me to read on?” Then compare those openings with these:

  • Why is it that some schools are offering happiness classes to their students?
  • How a McDonald’s worker stole millions by cheating at the company’s Monopoly game.
  • Why the banks are now targeting teenagers and what you can do to help protect your students from making bad choices.
  • Why are the kangaroos taking over the capital?

These headlines don’t start with the product or service they are selling.  Rather they start by grabbing attention through the headline, and then weave their way towards the offer.

But the headlines are not totally dislocated from reality.  For example, happiness classes are being offered in some Indian schools, and that advert went on to talk about the need to make students aware of mental health issues.

The McDonald’s story leads into an advert about unexpected outcomes from well-intentioned projects and relates to a method of planning and implementing change.

The banks story is about the need for guidance and advice for students about finances that is not supplied by a company with a vested interest.

And the final story from Canberra, Australia, tells how climate change is affecting the behaviour of the nation’s famous mammal and stresses the need for environmental education.

All these advertisements grab attention first and then head towards the advert.  If you would like to see how you could use that approach just send me an email that you have created (either one you have sent in the past or one that you create for this exercise) and I’ll write back and give you an example of another way of presenting the advert.

There’s no charge; I’m simply hoping to stress the notion that while other things are important in sending out emails (such as the quality of the list, whether the server is UK based and cleared by the IT giants that patrol the internet, and the nature of the offer), the way you grab attention and write is also a key issue.

If you invite me to rewrite your email that doesn’t oblige you to buy anything from us.  But if you become interested in the approach I’ll happily answer your questions. And you will be free to use the advert if you wish – or you can ask schools.co.uk to write your next promotion for you.

If you want to discuss this approach or try it out, please call my colleague Stephen on 01604 880 927 or email him at Stephen@schools.co.uk

Tony Attwood

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