Beat Your Control
Recently, I received a phone call from a B-to-B marketer in Denver who said he needed help beating his 10-year control mailing.
There’s no bigger, more rewarding and more frightening challenge than being asked to try to beat a control that’s withstood years of testing.
What does it take to overpower a direct mail workhorse that has been in the mail for 10, even 20 years? While I’ll quickly admit I don’t have a perfect track record, I’ve had the chance to learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t. What follows are some tips for you to try as you develop your own control-beating strategies.
Dissect the Control
If you’re a freelancer or someone outside the company, start by making sure you understand all elements of the offer, as well as the audience, competition, and key objections to buying or responding. Every decision you make hinges on this information. Then, dissect the control. You need to understand why and how the control works. Analyze how the offer is presented by format, copy and design. Although you’re analyzing a winner, don’t be intimidated. What you’re looking for is missed opportunities. These are the building blocks for your control-beating test package.
For starters, what are the elements of the control that help it get past the mail screener? Does it look important? Personal? Valuable? If you can get your test mailing into more of the right hands, there’s a good chance you’ll also generate more response.
So, how about using live postage instead of the preprinted indicia? Or adding a person’s name to the return address above the company logo? To the person screening the mail, an envelope with a stamp that’s from an individual may look more important than one from a company.
Once the mailing is in the right hands, what is it about the control that gets it opened and read? The outside of your mailing is key to generating control-beating response. Pay as much attention to the size, shape, color and paper stock as you do to the copy and design. Now, what can you add, subtract or enhance to increase reader involvement starting with the outside of the mailing?