Skinned Cats and DM Testing

My maternal grandfather said something to me once when I was very little that left me standing in my tracks, unable to move, wondering why I was suddenly scared of him. “We” were working on something at his house – reconnecting a lawn mower string that had snapped off. He got frustrated when he couldn’t get the newly wound string to rebound on the pulley (raise your hand if you’ve ever been there), stood up, looked me in the face and said, “Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat!” Bug-eyed, I was inconsolable, and he didn’t know why. I might have been six or seven years old.

What he didn’t explain beforehand, but what I know now, is that if something doesn’t give you the desired results the first time you attack it, don’t stop – there are other ways to get to the same result. THAT is the essence of testing your Direct Mail message. Often, you’re not going to hit the jackpot with your first mailing. You’ve got to figure out what didn’t work and try again…as often as it takes to hit your goal, to improve your ROI, or to claim the success you were after in the first place. With these 6 Rules for Direct Mail Testing, you’ll find yourself armed with exactly what you need to confidently do all of the above:

  1. Every mailing is a test. Rule number one, in my book. Approaching a mailing as a test, as something upon which you can improve to maximize its effectiveness is a strategic tactic in Direct Mail postcard campaigns. It is critical that you understand that EVERY mailing you send out has consequences – both good and bad. You want to learn from every interaction you create with your prospects and clients to understand how to help your business prosper. Every time you send out a mailing, understand everything you can about it. And use what you gain to make every subsequent mailing as impactful as it can be.
  2. Don’t assume you know what will work. If it were that easy, you’d have already raked in your retirement and you’d be reading this from the back of your yacht.
  3. Remember to be consistent. Keep track of the ‘alterations’ so you know instantly what made a mailing work and what didn’t work so well. Change one thing at a time (two at the extreme) and see how a design change or phrasing impacts the results. If you change too much at once, you won’t have a confident idea of what made the difference one way or the other.
  4. Determine goals for each test. Don’t generically say you want ‘as many sales as possible’ because that isn’t specific enough. Success is knowing what kind of ROI you want to achieve. With that idea in mind, you should know how many pieces to mail, the targets to be reached, and what the minimum success rate per hundred/thousand pieces should be.
  5. Break up lists…even small ones. Especially in a budget-conscious scenario, splitting up mailings into an A and B grouping can be a great way to see what message or design works with your prospects, and you can keep the costs manageable.
  6. Use testing to answer internal questions. Whether you are going back and forth on strategy, formatting, copy, or even design, let testing give you the answers. They say that a theory’s best friend is a successful application. Okay, nobody says that. But let a successful postcard campaign be the best answer to whether you think something you want to try will work or it won’t.

What my grandfather knew about the world around him at 70-something, he’d learned over a lifetime. It took me a while to figure out he wasn’t talking about doing something mean to a cat, but that I should keep trying when I came up short tackling a project or dealing with a friend or trying to turn a failure into a success. Test, test, test.

Give Opportunity Knocks a call today. We’ve got Direct Mail Success coaches at the ready, waiting to help you skin that cat in more ways that you ever thought possible. Let’s quickly find what <u<doesn’t work, tweak a picture or color or mailing list or turn of phrase, and get out of the way as your new sales and leads come rolling in!