April 15, 2003 Volume 2 Issue 42
t - e - s - t is a four letter word
Grant Johnson and I met somewhere, sometime within the last couple of years.
Here is a young guy with a dynamite direct marketing philosophy, and an agency that performs. I asked Grant to share a few thoughts with us - here is the first of what I expect will be a collection of his writings.
"Testing your direct mail campaign is smart. The pay off is two-fold: 1. a big picture look at what will happen when you combine your list, creative, copy, format and other components. And 2. the chance to make changes if the results aren't exactly what you were expecting."
It still amazes me, after nearly 14 years as a direct marketing practitioner, how few companies understand and actually do enough direct marketing testing.
The only logical explanation is that test is a four letter word. And, people don't like to use four letter words, right?
From a direct marketing standpoint, we can test the list(s), the offer, the package creative, components of the package, the format, and so on. The ability to test and measure results is what differentiates direct marketing from all other communications efforts. Testing, when done correctly, will help a company decrease the number of pieces mailed and intentionally increase its return-on-investment (ROI).
Speaking of The Bottom Line
Testing allows us to determine, in a real world setting, what works, what doesn't work and why. Like direct marketing itself, testing is about numbers, ROI and data.
We test not only to increase our ROI, but also to learn. The more we learn, the better we can market to segments that emerge as we move our marketing programs forward. As the late direct marketing guru Dick Benson said, "You've got to determine if the information you can reasonably expect to gain is really worth the expenditure."
Myths & Misunderstandings
True or False: testing is expensive. It depends on how you look at it. Is it an investment in the future success of your marketing efforts?
In his book, Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith astutely points out that focus groups determined that fat-free pizza at Pizza Hut, skinless chicken at KFC and the McLean sandwich at McDonald's would all be hugely successful. These companies undoubtedly spent millions of dollars on proposals, planning and marketing the launch of these products. Today, none of these items are on the menu. In-store testing, if done at all, should have been more extensive. I argue that an investment in testing would have saved these companies money - and lots of it.
"In almost thirty years as a direct marketing consultant, I've very, very seldom had a client who did enough testing ¼ certainly not enough of the kind of testing that matters." --Richard Benson, Direct Marketing Guru
Keeping It So Simple
The concept of a grid, or matrix, is based on the direct marketers ability to test and track several lists, creative approaches and offers at once.
The results? A "big picture" that involves nearly every possible scenario that could make or break the campaign.
Our advice is to set-up a testing matrix and test within budget parameters. The goal is to break-even or make money on your testing while simultaneously learning as much as possible. A word of caution though--make sure that the test cells implemented are meaningful. If they're not, you will waste money. For instance, testing outer envelope teaser copy seldom produces significant lifts in response rates.
A Matrix Example
A non-profit client had been mailing a fund raising appeal to the same house file of 220,000 names for almost 15 years. Of the 220,000 names, 80,000 continually donated to the cause. The remaining 140,000 people were unresponsive, however, year after year the same package was sent to the entire database.
Complicating the situation was the absence of a donor profile and the lack of budget to rent overlay information.
The matrix solution involved four test cells: two different letters, the addition of a buckslip and an alternative piece to the brochure. Testing generated over 4,500 new donors with an average gift of $35.00, not including the clients' lifetime value. As a result, the testing investment more than paid for itself.
But the test program didn't stop there. We took the information learned to enhance the donor file with overlays. The client made a commitment to future tests and to eventually rent outside lists.
Back To The Bottom Line
Testing does not have to be complicated. On the contrary, the practice of testing involves simple techniques to collect data. Data in turn becomes knowledge, which you need to succeed, move forward and grow.
Testing is a progressive art and can help make marginal programs more successful and successful programs more profitable. For more information on testing look to the published works of industry professionals such as Dick Benson, Ed McLean and Bob Stone.
Remember, test IS a four letter word. But then again, so are these words: mail less, make more cash. For more information, contact Johnson Direct toll-free at (800) 710-2750 or visit www.johnsondirect.com.
Language is truly wonderful.
With words we're able to communicate. Or, maybe sometimes not - even with the effort.
So, from a series of communications, compliments of a combination of the legal system and advertising community, come this collection;
... on a Sears hair dryer; Do not use while sleeping (well, okay, but think of all the time I could save!)
... on a bag of Frito chips; You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. (is this the shop lifter special?)
... on a Swanson frozen dinner; Serving suggestion; Defrost. (yet, it is only a suggestion!)
... on the bottom of Tesco's Tiramisu dessert; Do not turn upside down (thanks for the news, but it's too late now)
... on Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding; Product will be hot after heating (and the opposite is ... ?)
... on packaging for Rowenta iron; Do not iron clothes on body(well, okay ... another time saving idea gone)
... on Nytol Sleep Aid; Warning: may cause drowsiness (let me see, why am I taking this stuff?)
... on package of Sunsbury's peanuts; Warning: contains nuts (no ... and I expected dried fruit)
... on a superman costume; Wearing this garment does not enable you to fly(well then, can I return it?)
... on Boot's children's cough medicine; Do not drive a car after taking (if we could just get those 5 year olds out of the drivers seat!)
... a grocery store sign; Special 5 for $1. Limit 4 per customer. (is that 4 X 5 ... or ?)
... on a Swedish chainsaw; Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands (hey, another good idea gone bad)
... on a Japanese food processor; Not to be used for other use. (maybe these guys should get together with the chainsaw folks)
Well, I could go on. The list is longer. Yet, you do get the idea. Words are wonderful ... when you use them well. And, when you don't.
"It IS What's Next!"
Already I've shared this story with health care organizations, a database marketing business, a direct marketing firm, a DM association - and several others. And I'm ready to bring it to your group. (Visit It IS What's Next!)
When you have a need for a 40-90 minute program, I'll give you this different, interesting, meaningful, warm and true action presentation. To your club. Your company. Your organization. Your association. Any group you have. At any place. At any time. For any reason.
ItISWhat's Next!is available to you as a Keynote Address. As a special program. As an opening or closing presentation. As a different / unique session.
Since the beginning of government there have been taxes. Where the populace pays to have someone else tell them what to do, how to live.
Today is income tax payment day in the USA ... April 15. A day we love to hate. Here is a quote I just plain "love", from my favorite Anonymous;
"Time is nature's way of keeping
"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.
Magic Marketing Minutes
Booklets in Direct Mail
Booklets are different than brochures. They're usually a little longer. They're "keep" pieces vs. sales pieces.
They're meant to be kept around and used as reference documents later on. They're not sales pieces ... although I'll be the first to admit that, of course, the reason you use them is to sell your product or service.
When might you consider using a booklet in your Direct Mail? Well, the first is when you might have a long story to tell. When your message is new, complex or different.
Or when you're going into a new marketplace and you're not known by your prospective audience. And you want to take the time to do it right. To do it completely.
Another time you might use a booklet is when you want to control the entire message. When you want to make sure the message is as complete, as accurate and as thorough as it can be. As you see it.
Rather than allowing your captive sales force, or independent set of dealers or agents present you as they wish. A booklet gives you control.
A fourth time you might use a booklet is when you expect a slower response and you don't mind. Booklets slow down response -- people read them. Which is good -- because they're learning about you.
The next time you plan a Direct Mail program, think about how you can use a booklet!
"Stamp Out" Alzheimer's
The last years of my dad's life included Alzheimer's. So, when long time DMer, speaker & biz friend John Jay Daly asked me to include this news - I quickly said "yes".
The US Postal Service is being asked to create a 'semi-postal' stamp to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association. To fight the disease that affects 4 million Americans. A petition of 50,000 signatures is needed to make an impact.
Will you please help? Visit the donated web site & sign the
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.