Why a certain style of prose makes teachers far more likely to buy, and how you can write in that way.
By Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A., M.Phil (Lond), F.Inst.A.M.
There are two factors at the heart of that statement above.
First there is the point that most of us see lots of written material, including advertisements, and as a result we tend to dismiss much of what we see in a trice. There is so much advertising around, it is hard to take it all in.
Second, we can recognise that our attention is often attracted more to the unusual, than to the known. We take in what is known, and assume it is the same as the last time we saw it. Thus we’ve seen it before, so we don’t need to look at it again.
However when something is very different, we look, and we notice.
This applies to advertising to teachers as much as it applies to our daily lives. And it is a factor that can be used when selling products and services into schools in order to boost sales at no extra expense.
And rather wonderfully, this is not something that only people who are practiced in the art of writing can do – although you can of course invite an outsider to write your next advertisement if you are short of time. But who writes the piece isn’t the fundamental issue.
The key issue is that you can take a huge step forward in your advertising if your advertisement doesn’t just say what you sell, but instead, it also engages with the teacher in a creative and novel way. If the result of this is that she/he feels more positive and more interested, then you are more likely to hold the reader’s attention and bring in sales.
Research shows that for many people who are not used to writing advertisements, their early efforts may fail to bring in many sales. The blame for the failure can then, on occasion, be put down to the medium (as in “teachers haven’t got time to read emails”) or to the fact that the product simply isn’t wanted in schools.
However, it can often be found that another advertisement for the same product, which is written in a novel, engaging and perhaps less factual manner can then bring in many more sales. This shows that at least in some cases (and I would be inclined to argue, in most cases) the way in which we write to teachers determines how many sales we get.
Now obviously this is in turn raises the question, how are we going to write in this different way, that will bring in more sales? As it happens, there are several things that can be done.
First, one needs a little time – and this can be the biggest hurdle. Most of us can write an advertisement that describes what we have for sale, and we can do that in maybe ten or 15 minutes.
But an advertisement that is creative and original and which is not just a description of the product or service on offer, can take quite a bit longer, and many people feel they don’t have the time for that. However, the fact that you have got this far with this little article today, suggests that either you do have the time – or you can, if you wish, ask Schools.co.uk to write the advertisement for you. (Our email address is at the end).
So if you have overcome that hurdle of time, the next thing to do is to sit down with your computer (or pen and paper if you prefer), in a calm environment in which you are going to be able to focus, and make a few notes about how you can describe the benefits of your product or service in a creative and novel way.
And if I may, let me stress “benefits” here, for to be clear, I am not talking about the features – which will be a description of what you sell. For example, a single-volume GCSE chemistry book is, obviously, a single-volume GCSE chemistry book. That’s what it is: that is the feature. It might have lots of illustrations. That’s another feature.
The benefit however might be that it contains everything in a single volume the student needs to know, to get a decent grade, and uses a particular style of illustrations that has been shown to speed up learning.
Now you start writing. As soon as you get stuck you can stop – but do come back to what you have written in the near future. An hour’s break can often be enough, but if not come back tomorrow. Most importantly stick with the plan: each time you write, focus on being creative, keep telling yourself you are being creative (and doing writing what others write) and also think, “Benefit, Benefit, Benefit”.
And let me stress, this doesn’t mean your writing should be whacky or weird. It just means you are writing in a way that is somewhat (maybe just a little, maybe a lot) different from your normal approach. Indeed, keep this instruction in your mind (or maybe even on a piece of paper at your side or written in bold at the top of your article): “Write more creatively than I normally do.”
Experiments have shown that in most cases that instruction, odd though it seems, if written out and taken seriously, will lead to you putting more effort into finding new ways of promoting your product or service.
Another thing you can do is to link up with anyone in your company, or any of your friends, who you feel is a particularly creative person, and get that person to help you. That person might not be used to teaching someone to be more creative, but if nothing else he/she can deliver an answer to the question, “How do I write about this product in a way that will make teachers buy it?”
That person may never have written an advert for teachers before, or may never have written any advert before, but the result may still be interesting enough to take you on a new journey to finding a new way to advertise. This can work particularly well if the person you are working with is someone you already have a good working relationship with, and who understands your way of thinking.
After that you write, and then read what you have written, and ask questions such as, “Is this different?” “Is this engaging?” and “Is this interesting?” And above all, “Have I genuinely just been creative?”
It can take a bit of practice, but in the end, most people who stick at it get there. However, if you feel you are too busy for the practice, you can always invite Schools.co.uk to help you write the piece so that the result genuinely is different from the sort of advertising you have put out before, and which your rivals are putting out.
Just call us on 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk You’ll also find plenty more helpful articles on www.schools.co.uk But whatever approach you take, do remember, saying to yourself “I am now going to be different and creative in the way I write this advertisement,” is one of the most important steps forward you can take.