No one can do everything in a company. So which bits should you drop?

When I started my first company I did in fact do everything.  From writing the adverts to opening the replies, from putting the products I sold into packaging, to taking them to the Post Office.  And then going to the bank with the cheques.

And today?  No, I only do one of those things. The one that I found that I enjoyed and which, judging by results, I was quite good at.

But it took me a long time to give up doing some of the other tasks; a long time to admit that there were other people who could do them far better than me (including packing up the goods to be sent out – I was useless at that).

So giving up things is hard, I know that.  But I also know that it can be invaluable, because it allows one to do the bits one is good at.  And it makes work more enjoyable.

Now when it comes to selling to schools by email one can perhaps list four or five things that could be handled elsewhere…

First there is the writing of the email, which, if you are an occasional reader of my ramblings, you will know is what I consider to be my thing.  It is what I enjoy, and if I may be sold bold as to say, what I think I am quite good at, at least in terms of getting results.

Second there is the transmission of the advert – for which you need a UK based server which the internet police (which is to say the giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple and the like) feel is not given over to sending out junk.

Third you will need an up-to-date email list – including where possible the personal email addresses of the teachers you want to reach.  One can of course reach schools by writing “The Head of Maths” etc on the subject line, but doing this tends to get a much lower response rate than is achieved by having the individual’s own email address at the school.

(Incidentally it is always worth checking on this if you are using an email list from an outside source as the term “personal email address” is one that tends to be used in different ways by different organisations.  We use it only to mean addresses that start with the teacher’s name, not with the word Office or Admin.)

Fourth there is the website – wherein one needs not just someone with the technical skills to create a site, but also an understanding of how the website’s design affects sales.

And then finally there is the dealing with customers, and the processing of orders.

If you and your colleagues have all that covered with your own range of expertise, that is excellent, and I am sure you will be doing well, but if you are finding yourself pushed into doing work you really don’t like – that’s not so good.

Now the reason people continue to do the bits they don’t like doing is because getting someone else to do it can seem to be too expensive.  However I am not sure that is actually the case when it comes to email advertising, first because some of the services noted above can be obtained free of charge, and second because if using experts in the field, you should be able to get far higher response rates which continue over time than when you take on the work yourself.

Of course I have a vested interest in all this as I would like you to consider using to undertake any parts of your work in communicating to schools that you undertake yourself.  But nevertheless I still believe the point is true – the costs of bringing in an outside company to help should always be more than paid for by increased sales. 

Indeed we normally find that we are able to generate more than enough new sales that will easily pay for any charges we make.  If you’d like to find out more, please do take a look at our website or call 01604 880 927 or email

Tony Attwood

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