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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 19 February 2019. In this issue:

Are Reading University’s financial woes an ominous indication of what’s to come?

Reading hit the news last week having reported itself to regulators after an inappropriate sale of land was converted into a £121m loan which it was not in a position to repay.

There are multiple stories rumbling around in the press at the moment. Brexit brings very real threats of cutting off the EU as a source of students, staff and research grants. The UK government is expected to recommend undergraduate tuition fees are cut from £9250 per year to less than £7000. Most HEIs are already operating on a knife-edge where it won’t take much to tip them over into bankruptcy. On top of this Reading is one of many universities which hasn’t secured the undergraduate numbers it expected, leading to an immediate hole in its bank balance. A campus partnership in Malaysia has also failed, at a cost of over £27m. A voluntary redundancy scheme has now been put in place to try to cut staff costs.

But would the government let a UK university go bust? Publicly they’ve stated that they won’t bail out struggling HEIs, although in practice a number have already received financial support. And it seems highly likely that in this scenario it would depend who you were. A high-profile Russell Group HEI would surely be more secure than a newer, smaller university without the same prestige.

This is a tough time to be marketing to universities in the UK and it is imperative that we are aware of the issues and how they’re likely to impact on individual academics. Our Academic Marketing Workshop is designed to help. NEW date just set of Thursday 25 April in central London.

Read the article about Reading University (with links to related stories) on The Guardian website.


12 tips for marketing to permanently distracted customers

The Age of Distraction is officially a thing. Social media is specifically designed to distract. Smartphones mean we continuously check inboxes in between scrolling through Twitter or Facebook. We are all flitting between digital devices all the time and it’s harder to sustain concentration on a single task. Human beings have also long been adept at simply not registering advertising as our brains consign it to a mental spam folder.

It has never been harder to engage with potential customers. If we’re to grab attention and keep it through to the call to action our marketing needs to have impact, and be succinct, relevant and simple, summed up in the following 12 tips:

  1. Deliver short messages through multiple channels over time – longer, more detailed information is likely to be ‘put aside for later’ and never read at all.
  2. Don’t expect people to read paragraphs of product copy. They won’t.
  3. Address them very directly and personally, it’s harder to ignore.
  4. Provide bite-sized chunks of information, which are easy to scan, instead.
  5. Make all of your marketing visual. Pictures have more impact than words.
  6. Deploy other visual devices too: quotation marks, question marks, bullet points and numbers all draw the eye.
  7. Use buzz words that really resonate and which will help you stand out from less relevant marketing competing with yours.
  8. Make your copy topical (refer to current events or news) to convey relevance and immediacy.
  9. Make it stand out with endorsements from people they respect and/or people ‘just like them’.
  10. Acknowledge concerns they may have and how you address them, which makes it less likely that they’ll use these as excuses for disengaging.
  11. Repeat your marketing – you need a bit of serendipity as well as relevance to be read and acted on so don’t assume that no response = not interested.
  12. Make it VERY quick and easy to respond.
Great copywriting is at the heart of everything we do, from product copy and back covers, to emails, to tweets. Our Copywriting Workshop is our most popular course and for good reason. Why not join us (or ask about an in-company tailored course) this spring?


eBulletin subscriber offer on selected spring courses

Dates for our training courses are now set ‘on demand’, ie when we have sufficient requests to run them. The following courses have all been requested but need more bookings if we’re to set dates. Would you like to join us?

Use our eBulletin offer to book two places on any one course at just £300 per place, a cool saving of almost £200.

Here are the courses included in this offer:

Copywriting Workshop
Email Marketing Workshop

Introduction to Marketing in Publishing

Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget

Register your interest for you and a colleague to attend any of these online today quoting EB300 as the ‘other price’ (simply enter both names in the attendee field), and we’ll get back to you to discuss dates. Offer ends 31 March.

If you have any questions just email on or use the Contact us button above and I’ll be glad to help.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Penguin do a good line in ‘authors in conversation’ videos like this one. But you could too.
  • If you’re attending LBF next month and would like to meet, just get in touch.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine.


Tip of the week: Don’t let politics or systems stop you doing great marketing

We’re all operating in an imperfect environment and it can be frustrating when internal politics or system limitations prevent us from implementing what we want. But it’s also a fact of life that we all have to live with.

The tip this week is to try to minimise time spent feeling frustrated and channel energies into working out how to bend the system or persuade despite political opposition. Always keep the ideal in our sights and then figure out how close we can get to it. After all, when we do win the day in the face of adversity it’s so much more satisfying than when it’s easy.



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