How childhood aspirations can help with your advertising.

Childhood aspirations are an important driver of achievement later in life: and they can help your advertising.

by Tony Attwood

As you can imagine, in my work with I get to see hundreds, indeed thousands, of advertisements aimed at teachers each year.  Some are sent out by itself, others travel through different routes and are forwarded to me by helpful teachers who appreciate our services.

And I find it interesting that very, very few such advertisements ever touch on one of the key factors that influence how well a pupil or student does in school.  By which I mean, the issue of the aspirations of the pupil or student, and how these aspirations might be raised.

I guess it is something that fascinates me since I was brought up in a working-class part of north London where being a lorry driver’s mate upon leaving school was considered to be a step above being a shop assistant before graduating to a petrol pump attendant.

The culture clash arrived when to everyone’s surprise, I made it to grammar school and found that my new classmates wanted to become lawyers or teachers or accountants or historians or chemists or… well you get the idea.

But being perverse I didn’t follow either trend.   I decided I wanted to work in the arts and was immediately told that such a dream was ludicrous.  I couldn’t be a writer because I couldn’t spell and my handwriting was borderline illegible, I couldn’t be a musician because my sight reading and timekeeping were rubbish, and as for the theatre, I couldn’t learn the lines.

Working as an estate agent’s junior was suggested as an alternative since it was recognised that I was quite good at making up stories.

And it turns out I was lucky and got what I wanted despite the bad spelling, poor memory for lines, and atrocious sight reading.  It turned out I had something that the grammar school didn’t welcome at all: an imagination.

In recent times, thinking about young people’s attributes has moved away from the “you’re not good enough to do that” approach to one of fostering aspirations, especially in relation to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Indeed over 17,000 people born in one week in 1958 have been followed in relation to this, and the finding has been that high aspirations while at school drive higher achievements later in life.

Of course, material factors are still important.  But it seems, raising aspirations by suggesting that with ambition and hard work one can achieve much more than if one sits back and lets it all happen, really does result in better outcomes.

So what does this have to do with the products and services you advertise to schools?

Of course, this is dependent on what one is selling.   But it is certainly the case that many educational materials can be promoted as giving the student a sense that she or he “can do it,” and can overcome the limitations that low aspirations can bring.

And the advantage to the advertiser is that very, very few advertisers at the moment are saying in their advertising that this particular set of educational materials will help raise the aspirations of the pupils or students.

Of course, you could argue that since I have now mentioned this, everyone will be writing such advertisements, but I regret my influence does not travel that far.  If you take up the idea, I’m certain you’ll be one of the few.

Besides, raising the aspirations of pupils and students is a fundamental need in our society for without this, we’re really not going to be able to cope with the level of change that is now happening day by day.

Thus, my argument is that an advert that mentions that the product or service being promoted will not only help pupils or students improve their understanding of a particular issue, or improve a specific skill, but will also raise their aspirations, is the extra twist within an advertisement that could add a significant few percent more to the response rate. undertakes email campaigns to schools for companies and organizations, and we are always most willing to make suggestions as to how the advertisement might be tweaked in some way that could raise the response rates.

If you’d like to see how this works, just send me a copy of a proposed promotion to schools, and I’ll come back to you with my thoughts.  There’s no charge – and of course what I hope is that you’ll then ask us to send the promotion to schools, for which we do make a modest charge.  But there’s no obligation.

Our most popular service in relation to emailing schools is the 4-Email programme which allows you to email teachers four times (or indeed four different teachers once each) at a very much reduced rate.  There is more on this on our website.

Or if you prefer you can email

Or call 01604 880 927.

Tony Attwood

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