Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.


Power Direct Marketing: The Book

Two Questions That Deserve an Answer

Marketing measurement—the effectiveness of a specific piece of direct mail or a full campaign, a direct response ad in a single publication or with a full schedule, broadcast media, a trade show, any and all media measurement is what you’re looking for.

Two questions come immediately to mind when you begin to talk about analysis and measurement. The first is:

What can I expect in the way of response?

Good question. And the answer is: "I don’t know." Another answer—equally correct—is: "It depends."

Why these evasive answers to an honest question? Why can’t I at least give you a formula? For the same reason a doctor doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with you by looking and listening alone. Nor does your CPA tell you what your taxes will be before working your books. A jury doesn’t come in with a verdict until they’ve heard all the evidence in the case.

In every instance where direct marketing is the discipline used to achieve an objective, there are too many factors to provide you a flat answer. Or really any answer . . . until more is known.

What about "averages?" In fact, it is literally dangerous to analyze your program in terms of averages. Averages are fine for some things. But not direct response analysis.

Are you average? No! Of course not. Averages are just numbers, nothing more—and they mean just about that much in direct marketing. They can serve as a rough guide only. They should not be used to justify a direction or focus for your campaign.

It is far better, especially when you have a new product or service, when you are breaking into a new market, or when your response values vary greatly from low to high, to calculate the median value of your new lead. Or that first donation. Or order.

The median is the value that has half or 50% of all responses above it and the other 50% below. Calculate the median and use that figure for your projections, further testing, and the campaign roll-out.

How can you? In the early planning stages of your program when you need to think about budgets, fulfillment, manpower, and other elements of a complete campaign, how can you get an educated "guess" as to what to expect in the way of response?

Fortunately, there are guidelines. Here are a few ideas:

Start by looking inside your own company. What direct response programs have you run in the last year that might give you a fresh idea for this program?

  • What about your industry? Are there publications specifically about your industry group?
  • Does your industry have a trade association? And maybe a special research department?
  • The public library exists to provide information. It could be a good place to look.
  • Local colleges and universities often have a department in your field—maybe they can help.
  • The Direct Marketing Association, its various councils and Information Central service have a wealth of data available.
  • If you’re not in direct competition, maybe your business neighbor can help. You’ll never know until you ask.
  • And lastly, your own "gut" feeling. This is your company and your product we’re talking about. You haven’t been developing this program in a vacuum. What do YOU think is going to happen? What logically and rationally can you expect to be the response to your offer, directed to the right audience at this time?

There is information available in the marketplace. You may have to dig a little to find exactly what you want, but most likely you will find something to guide you.

I said there are always 2 questions. What to expect in the way of response is the first. The second is:

How many times must I make my offer?

How many pieces of direct mail should I send; how many times should I run this space or broadcast ad?

Let’s approach this from the advertising side of the desk. Or public relations or sales promotion.

If a key trade show in your industry was scheduled as a four-day event, would you only exhibit one day? Of course not. Why? Simply because you couldn’t reach all your prospects in one day.

How many prime-time television commercials do you know ran only 1 time? Can you name three? (Many can probably name 2—the Apple Computer Super Bowl 1-minute spots of the mid 1980s.)

How many times is a space ad run only one time, in only one magazine or newspaper?

What about outdoor posters—do you put up only one board in only one location? Bus cards—only one?

You get the idea. That just isn’t how you do it. One of anything rarely gets the job done.

The same "rule" that applies to advertising applies to direct marketing. And that is, your reputation will increase with repetition of your message.

The prime difference is you are target marketing your message. You have carefully selected your audience and are directing your offer to a select few—rather than the large mass of everyone. Which gives you a leg up on knowing what happens, in measuring and analyzing your results.

As with the first question, I don’t know the answer to this one either. And again, it really does depend. For American Medical International, a hospital financial management firm, an eight-part direct mail series to hospital administrators—one piece of mail every 6 weeks—was effective.

For my own direct marketing agency we did a 17-part direct mail series over 4 years. And it worked. And continued to work for 4 years.

Paul Bringe used to tell a story about a series of six letters to the same list, offering the same service each time.

Factoring the results, here is what happened:

Mailing #
1 100
2 73
3 54
4 43
5 41
6 29

The 6 mail packages brought a total of 340 replies. What would have happened had this series been a single mailing? Only 100 responses. By continuing, an additional 240 prospects replied.

Most programs that produce well the first time can be expected to continue to produce well. In this example the letters were mailed about 3 weeks apart—each with the same message but a new approach. The audience was the same, the offer was the same, the message was the same—stated a different way each time. The proof it works is in the measurable results.

If you’re willing to settle for a one-time reach of your offer to your audience, chances are you’re missing a major part of the potential business available to you.

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