Some time ago, John wrote a super-insightful blog about the Robert De Niro approach to copywriting. Not only is it one of my favourite Sprint Education blogs due to my personal love of all things theatrical, but also for how true it rings in the world of marketing to schools. Which got me to thinking a little deeper about the edu-marketing journey, and how, strangely, it is rather like that of an actor auditioning for their dream role...
Preparing your Monologue (The Creation of your Campaign)
At the outset, your email campaign is like your audition monologue; an actor preparing for an audition is strongly encouraged to prepare by reading the script they’re performing from several times in order to develop an in-depth understanding of the story, and the character they are portraying. In the same way, your company represents the story you want to tell, and your product/service is the character you want to depict. The main aim of your audition is to tell the story, and make your character both memorable and believable; so the better your marketing strategy represents your company and product or service, the more believable and memorable it will be to your audience of teachers!
The Audition (Your Campaign Launch)
Your email content has been refined to word-perfection, your design polished until it sparkles, and you’re finally ready to share it with your target audience of teachers – just like an actor with a well-practiced monologue. The click of the button is your first breath before delivering the speech, and suddenly – you’re away! Time for a coffee and wait for the responses to start pouring in...
Your Big Break...? (The Response to your Campaign)
In the case of both an acting audition and an email campaign, responses tend to fall into one of three categories:
As an amateur actor, I know that there’s nothing more disheartening than being told you’re not right for the role, or someone else came along that auditioned better than you. In the case of your emails marketing responses, teachers may simply not be interested (it’s a sad reality, but it happens), or they decide to work with/are already working with another company with a similar product or service. If this happens, have no fear; see what you can learn for your next campaign from the responses you receive, and think about how you can aim higher than your competitors!
The Alternative Enquiry
Recently, I auditioned for the part of the lead in my local theatre production, * but sadly didn’t get the role. I was, however, offered the part of the villain – an unexpected yet fantastic opportunity! In the same way, the response “we don’t need [your promoted product] right now, but do you have [alternative product] instead?” is one that pops up quite a lot. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate what your company is capable of, and to begin building a relationship with customers; after all, your email campaign only scratches the surface of what your company do, so to have the chance to showcase yourself, even if it’s not in the way you expected or wanted to, is a good one to grasp!
And then... there’s that all-resounding “Yes!”
The Performance (The Sale)
Getting that leading role – or in your case, the hot leads and enquiries – is the greatest feeling in the world. Now it’s time to put on your best selling-to-schools performance in the way only you and your company know how! You might not necessarily have congratulatory roses being thrown in your direction (don’t worry, I never have either...), but I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say there’s not a much better feeling than knowing you have made a positive difference to a customer’s day!
Having taken part in several auditions over the years, I know it takes a good run of ‘em to begin honing your craft. So what can you learn from those less-than-successful marketing emails we talked about earlier and do better for your campaigns of the future?
Choose your audience wisely
Just as not every theatre-goer likes the opera, not every member of school staff is necessarily going to be attracted to what you’re promoting. Target only those who you’re positive will like or have need of your services, as opposed to the mass pool; take it from me, a small but enthusiastic audience is better than a large, disinterested one!
Entice from the very start
In an audition, your opening line can be the difference between capturing your audience or putting them off entirely – even if the main body is a show-stopper! The same goes for your email subject line; a beautifully-crafted main body of copy won’t get its moment in the spotlight without a stunning subject line to match, so be sure that it’s going to pack a punch to get that outstanding open rate you’re after!
Keep them hanging on for more
Once your email has been opened, you can start to create the awe-inspiring, stage-presence atmosphere that’s going to keep the teachers hanging on, using expressive and engaging vocabulary and staying true to your brand’s tone of voice; even if you’re promoting something serious, sounding passionate about what you do will help your authenticity shine through - much like a character in a play!
Consistency is key
Returning briefly to my “your product/service is your character” analogy, keeping consistency is really important; if you try to exhibit too many different angles to your character in the short space you have, it’s going to get confusing for your audience very quickly! By the same token, don’t try to squeeze too many different promotions into your email copy; stick with the repetition of one awesome promotion throughout your email, and your audience of teachers will come away with your product/service firmly planted in their minds.
Encourage them to find out more
The most successful auditions are the ones where the panel wants to see more of your character and the story you’re trying to tell. Give your audience of teachers the opportunity to find out more with an engaging call to action or enticing sign-off, offering them the opportunity to get in touch; it represents you and your business as open and approachable, too!
Keep it short and sweet
In a standard audition, you have just two minutes to wow the panel with your speech before they stop you in your tracks; which never seems long enough! Similarly, there’s bound to be a lot you’ll want to say in your marketing email, but you won’t have a lot of time to say it. On average, teachers spend only eight seconds flicking through an email on their desktop, and just two seconds on their mobile phone; so if they can see that your email is a long-‘un, they’re much less likely to take a minute to read it than if it’s short and sweet!
Finally ... Just be yourself!
One of the biggest bits of advice I’m often given before an audition is “just be yourself.” Although you’re likely to be writing on behalf of your business, it’s always beneficial to take this advice with marketing to schools, too. Write in first person singular (“I” instead of “we”), and you’ll come across as much more approachable and less “salesy.” Addressing the specific teacher is a plus too; there are thousands of teachers out there, so creating a dialogue with them as an individual makes them feel valued; which, as a result, works exceptionally well for your campaign!
Take a bow...
While this blog might not go down in history in quite the same way as a play by William Shakespeare, I really hope you find it helpful for your edu-marketing endeavours! And if you’d like any further tips on creating a show-stopping education campaign, our cast of creative and talented team members at Sprint Education are just a phone call away...
*Sinbadaladdin, in case you were wondering... (oh, yes it is!)
Email Calls to Action
How to Sell to Schools
How to Sell to Teachers
Marketing to Schools
Marketing to Teachers