2001 Direct Marketer of the Year
She explains, "I did not want a pile of money that was for 'something called tests' and then have to argue for it. If you have a line item on the budget for testing, this is the first thing that is whacked in budget cuts. Instead, I built testing into the fiber of marketing. It was an active decision, because I did not want anyone to think they could not test because the money was not there. If cuts were mandated, they would be across the marketing spectrum—not just testing."
It was freelance copywriter Malcolm Decker who wrote:
There are two rules of direct marketing and two rules only.
Rule #1: Test everything. Rule #2: See Rule #1.
The late direct marketer Ed Mayer—who claimed that successful direct mail was dependent on the ratio of 40 percent lists, 40 percent offer and 20 percent everything else—had a corollary to Decker's rule:
Don't test whispers.
As Brandt says, "The big swings in results come from list, price and offer tests. Format tests and creative less so. Sometimes I would nix a test idea because it would only bring incremental improvement, but not often."
Now AOL is up to 1,000 hours free within 45 days, confirming direct marketing guru Axel Andersson's rule:
If you want a dramatic increase in response, you must dramatically improve your offer.
When Brandt arrived at AOL, the main source of new business was manufacturers who would build the software into their computers. Brandt felt this was a dangerous place for a business to be and immediately set out to acquire a more diverse base of marketing channels. In her second year at AOL, Brandt went to direct mail. The next year, she moved AOL into space advertising, packaging floppies on the outside of magazines and generating incredible responses.