What makes a consumer pay attention to a marketing message versus ignoring it? Open an envelope versus throwing a direct marketing solicitation in the trash? Consider your offer versus dismiss it? Direct Marketing 101 tells us that success is defined by the right message to the right target at the right time. If you try to sell me dog food and I don’t have a dog, I will never respond (although there are marketers who seem to believe they can get me to go buy a dog with the right offer!)
So let’s assume that we’ve gotten the basics correct. What are the factors that will influence your success? One headline could be much more effective than another. The format, use of color, wording of the offer, response mechanism, description of the product or service, use of photography versus artwork, in short the multitude of variables that are part of the communication can all influence the outcome. But how does a marketer know which one worked and which one had a negative effect? How do you determine which combination of elements is optimal and will provide the greatest Return On Investment?
In marketing, The Big Idea is often heralded as the key to success. But the way The Big Idea is delivered, based on the multitude of creative choices can make all the difference in results. I think of Advertising as the guy standing on the corner with a bullhorn hoping somebody within earshot will listen and respond to his message. Direct marketing, on the other hand, is the guy who walks up your driveway and knocks on your door. If he has the right house, he’s here to tell you something of value to you. But it’s how he says it that will influence your response.
The best way to determine the optimal combination of direct marketing elements is multivariate testing. Done correctly it harnesses the magic of creative genius and scientifically validates results. It turbo-charges testing and minimizes the iterations necessary to optimize ROI. It’s a powerful synergy of art and science that puts The Big Idea on steroids!