The Strategy of Testing

If you’re a veteran of this blog, you’ll recognize that I can often find inspiration for my articles from unlikely or even odd subjects. I walked into the family room the other day, and the TV show my wife was watching grabbed me. I was immediately engrossed, captured, and captivated. After my wife gave me the rundown on what I’d missed, I knew right then and there this week would be all about my favorite subject: testing.

We were watching The Queen’s Gambit, a 3-part series about a celebrated chess player. The show’s central premise is around the use of an ancient beginning strategy dating back to 1490. Wow!

Naturally, I am about as knowledgeable about chess as I am about making a beef wellington. But what I took from the series plays directly into what I keep telling you about the importance of testing your Direct Mail pieces. You must have a strategy, you must fully understand the pieces on the ‘table’, and you must execute your plan with an escape route (more testing) in mind.

There are 32 chess pieces on the board (16 for you, 16 for your opponent). In my opinion, there are 8 Critical Pieces to Testing Direct Mail that you must always consider:

  • Products – As it relates to your audience, product is crucial. This isn’t impactful if you only make/sell one thing. But testing which of your products generates the most interest or inquiry can tell you where your efforts should be concentrated.
  • Copy – You might think this should be first, but if nobody wants what you’re selling, there are no magic words to make them buy it. The copy should always be bright, informative but not too educational, and should lead a prospect to jump on your Call-to-Action.
  • Colors – Do the colors distract from the copy? Do they leave the prospect wondering more about the design than the message?
  • Personalization – This can be expensive to consider, but if you’re testing a small-batch of postcards for the effect of using someone’s first name (e.g., Jimmy, I’m reaching out to you directly because this offer is too good to ignore!…), it might be the ‘it’ factor you need.
  • Premiums – Testing the giveaway is important. It lets you know if you’re starting out with your foot on the gas, or on the brake. Are they responding to your premium? Do you change the offer? Do you delete the offer, altogether?
  • Sizes – Does a standard size postcard get lost in the shuffle? Do oversized postcards strain too much of your budget?
  • Use of QR Codes – These are a great way to see how quickly your prospects take you up on your Call-to-Action. Standing at the mailbox, phone in hand, a snap of a QR Code can lead them right onto your landing page, and deeper into the curiosity rabbit hole where you want them. If you aren’t using a QR Code, how long is it taking them to reach you? And how are you measuring that?
  • Themes – Do you get more traction from plain messaging, or a message wrapped in, or inspired by, something? Does your audience respond better to holiday themes, or do seasonal mailings (e.g., Spring Cleaning Sale!) have them knocking down your door? By timing your mailings, or even speeding up or delaying already-planned outreaches, you might see a dramatic change in your response figures (and, hopefully, sales).

No matter your approach to testing and getting in front of your target audience, you have to always assume your opponent/competition has the same strategy – or better. An educated offense is better than a lucky defense. By understanding the strategy of testing, much like master chess players understand not only the board and how each piece can move and their effects, you are capable of doing the same in your use of Direct Mail. In fact, not knowing your best strategy, and adapting when it fails can be just as costly.

Give Opportunity Knocks a call today. Our Success Coaches may not know a rook from a bishop from a pawn. But they’re absolutely the best at identifying the most intelligent ways of designing and testing a postcard campaign to put your competition in check!