If you could build a slot machine that paid out a dollar for every dime you put in it, would you build it?
Of course, you would. And although such a machine is nonexistent in the casinos of Las Vegas, you can build something even better with your direct marketing.
The method is to build the perfect marketing piece by dedicating yourself to a series of split tests.
First, send out two completely different direct mail pieces to your qualified list of customers or prospects. Most small businesses test lists of at least 1,000 and up to 5,000 names because they want statistically relevant results. Larger national mailers test lists of 15,000 or more.
Let’s imagine PIECE A gets better response than PIECE B, so it’s your winner. You now call PIECE A your “control.”
Now, you do another split test pitting PIECE A against itself. The only difference in PIECE C is the headline; everything else is exactly the same.
That’s the key in testing – only test one variable at a time.
For our example, PIECE A gets a predictable response – pretty much exactly what it got before, but PIECE C does even better. PIECE C with its new headline is now your winner and your new control. Send it out again tested against another PIECE D where nothing is different except another new headline.
Keep this up until you can’t beat your current winner after multiple attempts.
Then, start testing other elements – one at a time. Try testing leads, offers, guarantees, price points, premiums, etc. You might even test longer formats: two-page letters vs. four-page letters; four-pages vs. eight-pages, and so on. You’d be surprised the ROI you’ll get because “the more you tell, the more you sell.”
This process might take three months, six months, nine months or more. As long as you keep improving your results, keep at it. It will be worth it, because when you are done you will have a marketing piece that you can predict results from every time you drop it in the mail. You no longer will be relying on anyone’s opinion – not yours, not your marketing staff, not your advertising agency.
Your marketing will be tried, tested, and proven in a real world environment where the votes are cast by your customers using their money to buy your product or service.
You’ll no longer consider marketing to be an expense that you can’t afford. You can have a machine in place that works on command, producing a predictable profit every time you flip the switch.
Are you willing to build that machine? If you do, you’ll be able to outspend your competitors in marketing because it’s making you money – while theirs is losing it.