Selling direct is not at all complicated; it’s just not common sense.

It might seem a bit odd to say that selling direct is not common sense, so let me explain.

What I mean by that headline is that it is possible to look at direct selling to teachers and make simple assumptions which seem to be common sense but which turn out to be, unfortunately, the wrong simple assumptions.

For example, one might assume that it is best to start by announcing one’s product. After all the customer has to know what this is about.

Or maybe you need to announce that you currently have a sale because everyone likes a bargain.

Then you might want to tell the customer that this is the best product of its type, the cheapest, the most reliable, etc, etc. That once again is just common sense.

But if you do any of this you will almost certainly run into real trouble, because this is the approach most people take in writing adverts.  And from the potential customers’ point of view, if they have heard it all before (in terms of sales, being new, special offers, etc), they are likely to turn away.

However this does not mean that direct marketing to teachers is complex.  Rather there are just three simple, straightforward rules which control the success of all direct marketing, be it on websites, blogs, emails, postal campaigns, or social media.

Here they are

  • The more your commentary reflects the world­view of the recipient, the better.
  • You have about two seconds to grab and hold attention – if you haven’t grabbed attention in that period you have no chance. (I used to say five seconds, but I think digital media has reduced that timespan significantly.)
  • The advertising must be consistent throughout, in terms of style and approach which is to say that you need the same “voice” all the time.

The key point is that the rules all fit together – they all come from the central understanding that the perception of the reader is fundamental and controls the response rate.

Each rule suggests and reinforces the point that you have to talk about the potential customer and the potential customer’s needs in a format and style that the reader finds acceptable.

Thus the potential customer is always at the centre. Not the product, not the writer, not the company, not the pretty pictures that you feel you ought to put up because all adverts have to have pictures, but the person you are writing to.

This opens everything up to a scientific basis for your marketing, because the view of the recipient can be discussed in terms of the psychology of the individual (the personality, hobbies, outlook, style), the social psychology of the setting in which the email or website is read (the crowded school staffroom, on the phone on the way home, etc), and the unchanging psychology of perception (the way in which 99% of us take our first glance at an email, web page, or piece of paper).

It is this scientific awareness of how the recipient looks at your advertising,­ especially in the first two seconds,­ that tells us how to write adverts.

In this context we need to remember all sorts of things, such as the fact that a picture is not worth 10,000 words unless it is highly relevant to the understanding of the advert and is placed in such a position that it doesn’t distract the reader.

We need to remember that the reader will skim through an advert at high speed, and we need to find ways of slowing the reader down without distracting him/her.

So with this approach evolved from the 3 laws, you cannot suddenly say “what about using a different coloured text?” without then asking, “how does the recipient respond to this?” and “what is the science here?” and “will the recipient be distracted from the core message?”

Most direct marketing produced in the UK ignores these laws, and as a result tends to underachieve in terms of response rates. This is why direct mail became known as “junk mail” and email as “spam”.

There is, of course, also  the fact that people have preferences and ­ some will read emails, some search websites, some will feel that an advert sent by post is more believable than one sent by email, some feel that stories that turn up on websites are the most reliable and others think exactly the opposite.

This doesn’t mean that marketing has to be horribly complex and expensive.  It just means it isn’t quite as much common sense and obvious as some people like to suggest.

If you are ready to advertise to teachers you might want to have a look at using our low cost 4-Email programme, the most popular email promotion programme we have. Do follow that link.

On the other hand if you would like to discuss how you can reach teachers through any medium, or how your advertising can be developed to give it more appeal, we’re always happy to help.  Please call 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk

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