Never in my classroom – hard sell

A vital part of Business English is understanding the strategies that companies use to lure their customers into purchasing. I tried a new lesson taking a look at this, and adapted in mid-lesson in response to my students reactions. The orange sections are those inserted due to lack of interest or a slightly miscued pedagogy.

* Plan is for a 90 minute lesson, but can fill up to 2 hours.

10 mins – 1-1 interview – What was your last purchase you made that was influenced by the advertising/marketing/sales concept of a company?

10-15 mins – Sharing with the group encouraging the class mates to declare if the product/service interests them or not.

*observed the students were listening in on the discussions of the others

10 mins – Mix and match phrases for strategies (note – more than one option may be possible



leading someone







* initially set as a task where they had to add a verb to the section B, was taking a little too long due to the high flying students being absent, so added section A


into a trend

to a niche/target group

to customers needs

to market demand

an image/ideal/msg

to believe in something that is not true

what customers does not know they want/need

with USP or groupings of special interests

30 mins – Discuss in small groups if your company, a business field uses particular strategies and/ or if you can recognisea strategies that are used by a particular culture/country

10 mins – Show 3 adverts from different countries for similar products with the volume muted, students have to guess where the advert is from.

* the ads I used for Telecommunications, but you can find a range for any kind of biz field

02 from the UK


T Mobile from US

Orange from India

 15-20 mins – Show the adverts again, and ask the students to decide which strategies from above or other strategies are being used.

Extension, follow up tasks as homework or projects 

* as I have some groups that are following similar syllabi try to run tasks that can now be done as spoken or written depending on what the students have to improve or skills they lack

1) Find good examples for adverts that are playing on customers preconceived notions of




* Had 10 mins to spare so did this in the lesson but with a three groups, each finding only one example for one type

2) Look at the marketing/sales concept of three rival providers of a service/sellers of a product and analyse the Strengths and Weaknesses or Pros and Cons of the strategies, and if you think they are successful in capturing their intended traget group.

Present as a short Pech Kucha presentation


Write a 400 word report





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *