Never do this do that

When an article on “never do this” starts off with one of your own “never do this” -isms, you know it will be fun.

I have just found a website which detailed three unforgiveable sins that should never be committed by any writer, at the beginning of writing a piece.

And there at the top, prior to the list of unforgiveable sins, was a prologue which said:

To those visiting from Pinterest, hello and welcome! …

A phrase that commits what is to me the biggest sin of all.  And that sin is one of addressing the reader (who will inevitably be sitting on her or his own at the computer) as “some of you”.

It is crazy, daft and just plain wrong.  The person to whom you are writing is an individual – and in the case of writing to schools, an individual employee about whom you know something.  She or he is not “some of you”, but “you”.

What’s more, you know the person’s job, the type of school that person is in (at the very least primary or secondary) and a fair bit about the concerns of people in schools.

That doesn’t mean that you write personally as if you know the individual, but it does mean that you treat the recipient of your email as an individual.

Now you can make all sorts of judgements about the person to whom you are writing.  For example, you might guess that the individual likes to feel that he or she knows all there is to know about teaching maths (or whatever the job is) and that anyone writing advertising a new product for maths teachers is probably someone who failed at teaching.

Or you might perceive the person you are writing to as a dedicated professional always on the look out for new ideas and approaches, recognising that there are lots of ideas out there, and it is just the case of finding the right one.

But then you might say – well there are some people who know it all (or think they do) and some who are open to ideas.  How do I know who is who?

The fact is that you don’t – you have to find a way around the problem, for example by writing in a style that will make the know-it-all think, yes I already do it like that, but it will do no harm to have a look, to just show I’m already ahead of the game.  While at the same time make the less certain recipient think, “hey that looks good – let’s have a look.”

But, and this is the big “but” – you can’t do this by heading down the middle of the road.  Because if you do your writing will end up being like everyone else’s.

The fact is that around 85% of advertisements sent to schools are written in either “designer standard” (in which the design comes first and some words are fitted around them) or in “I want to tell you” standard in which the features of the product are described from top to bottom.

If you avoid those two approaches you could well be on the way to writing a great advert.  After all, your product or service is probably based around a great idea.  All you need is a great idea in terms of the advertising as a way to sell it.

And just as the product or service you are selling has been modified as it has been developed, so your advertising will probably need to be modified along the way too.

Which is why I so often talk about our 4 email programme.  Yes, I will mention that by booking into it you will get your promotions to schools at an extraordinarily low price, and that they will come with a guarantee which I don’t think any other company offers.

But also, I really do believe you should be experimenting with different styles and approaches if you are going to get the biggest response, and a run of four emails is an ideal way to do this.

Four emails to secondary schools will cost you £53.75 each. Four to primary schools will cost you £72.25 each.

And there is a bonus at the moment.  If you book in now, we’ll also give you a further email free – which can be taken during the last week of this term or the first week of the autumn term.  Or (in case you want to catch teachers as they return for A level results, GCSE results, the start of term in Scotland, or anything else) at any time in between.

There is more on our website, or you can have a chat with the ever helpful Steve on 01604 880 927.  Or you can email

If you want my advice about how an advert might be written, do still get in touch with Steve and he’ll pass the message on to me.  I’m not always right in what I suggest, but I do know a little bit about selling to schools, so can sometimes be of help.

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