What single factor is the most likely to reduce the effectiveness of an advert?

Put another way, what is it that more firms get wrong than anything else, when creating email advertisements?  What is it, in fact, that stops them getting more sales?

Every week I am asked to comment on a number of advertisements that are sent to schools, with the idea that I might be able to come up with a slight change here or there which will increase the number of sales.

And yes, there really is one thing that I find (more often than anything else) which, if changed, can result in more enquiries and more sales.

Even better, it is a fairly simple thing which is easy to put right.  It is known as the separation of features and benefits and it goes like this…

In the email set out the benefits of what you are selling.  In short, explain how things will get better for the teacher as a result of her/him buying your product or service.

Then at the end of the email include a link to a web page which carries on directly from the email and talks about the features and leads to the ordering details.

To give an example, if you were selling homework diaries, the benefit might be that more homework would be done on time, and the parents would be better informed as to what homework was being set.

The features would be a separate page for each day, with space to write in each individual subject and a space for the parent to sign that she/he has seen the diary and knows what the homework is.

Thus in the email you would write about how this design of homework diary could increase parental involvement and the level of completion of homework.  The reader just has to click on the link to see what is in the diary.

Now what often happens (and of course this is just my experience) is that one can get too close to one’s own product or service, and so forget the overall benefits and just look at the features.

Imagine for example you are publishing a range of school policies which are on a website for teachers to download once they have subscribed.  The benefit is the time saved by having the ready-made policies, which can then be adjusted over time to meet the particular needs of the school.

The list of what those policies are is not a benefit – but rather a feature, and can safely be put on the linked website.

With school furniture, the feature is what it looks like and what it is made of.  The benefit is how it transforms pupil or student behaviour. The feature of signposts is the colour and type of lettering. The benefit is that visitors don’t get lost, new pupils don’t feel so challenged by the new environment, and prospective parents realise that this is a school that takes care of the little details.

It may seem a simple point, or even a trivial point, but from the statistics we gather from looking at advertisements to teachers day after day, it is the single most important element in advertising that is often missed.

If you are interested, there are two ways to deal with this issue. You can send over a copy of a recent advertisement of yours and ask me to write you a review of the advert and the link to the web page.  There is no charge – just email Stephen@schools.co.uk

Or you can book into the 4 Email programme which allows you to email schools for as little as around £50 per time (including use of our personal email list, transmission via a UK based server and a report back on the statistics).

There are more details of the 4 Email programme here – and if you start your programme this month we will give you an extra email in December free of charge (on the basis that many companies don’t realise just how successful December emails can be).

We also have a service in which we can write the emails for you and re-work your web page for you, if you wish.  Please do call 01604 880 927 for more details.

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