The way products and services for schools are being advertised is changing fast – and it is worth taking note.

During the last couple of years the amount of money spent in the UK on advertising via emails and websites has grown dramatically.  In fact, in the first half of last year alone the level of expenditure went up by 13%.

Some of this money went on search advertising, some on videos, some on content and display.  In fact all aspects of on-line advertising showed a huge growth.

And this was at a time when the nation was facing a considerable amount of uncertainty with a government without a majority and the ongoing Brexit debate.

So what were companies doing?

In essence they were endlessly improving and expanding the stories they could tell about their products and services, mostly by putting more and more information on-line. Which raises the question: what should you do about this in terms of selling to schools?

I would say that the first thing is to go onto the internet and do a general search for the products or services you supply in the way that the average teacher might.

So if you sell school desks, just type “school desks” into a search engine, and take a look at the companies on the first page. The advertisers will, of course, be at the top [often with the letters “Ad” next to their web address], and there may be further advertising in the right column.

The fact that the advertisements are arranged like this saves you a fortune in having researchers working for you – searching out what your rivals are doing in earlier times would have cost you a lot of staff time and magazine subscriptions.  Now it is there for free.

Thus you can see who is advertising and how they are selling.  And so all you have to do is to think, “how can I persuade people to buy from me rather than from these companies on the search engine’s first page?”

That might seem a trifle difficult, but you have one great advantage. As you will see, most of the on-line advertisements are feature driven, rather than benefit driven.

And yes it is true, I have often said “put the benefits on the email and the features on the website landing page.”  But the emphasis there is with the “landing page” – the page that you send potential customers to after they have read the email.

When someone is searching via Google or a similar system, the web page they find will be the first thing they see – and that means that for most products the reader is not finding any benefits.

One way forward is to put a few benefits above the features, on the web page that people go to after finding you on the search engine, (which is probably your home page – or at least your home page for that topic) and you can really increase your sales.

Another way is to put up a new article each week and list it on your home page. This adds more and more content to your website, and so gives you ever more chance of rising up the rankings.

It is a technique we have used with our website for the Dyscalculia Centre. Go to that site and you will find a list of recent articles on the home page – with a link to the index page of older articles there as well.

As a result we’ve risen from nowhere onto the second page of Google for most people searching for a dyscalculia test (which is what we sell).  We’re now about to introduce a new page which is being produced specifically to get us onto page one.

These techniques of writing articles which provide the information readers genuinely want are not difficult and do work – but are rarely used by companies selling to schools.  Instead the companies tend to stick to advertising features, which mean that those using search engines only see the features (which are very poor selling mechanisms) and never get to see the benefits.

If you are interested in ways of improving your position on Google over time please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss ways forward.

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