How to Beat Your Control
by Pat Friesen
What makes direct response copywriters and art directors different? Two things.
First, direct response writers and art directors enjoy the fact that their job is to generate measurable response. Second, direct response creatives understand and appreciate the need for testing and beating the control. In fact, they thrive on it.
Here are some suggestions for how to beat your control.
Guidelines for Testing
What elements should you test first when your goal is breakthrough creative?
• Test those elements that have the potential to make the biggest difference in response. For example, don't test the ink color of the signature on a letter until you've tested elements such as envelope teaser copy or letter openers.
• Look at past test results for direction. If testimonials have worked in the past but response is dropping off, test new testimonials or "re-package" the ones you're already using into envelope teaser copy, a new high-impact insert or a Johnson Box.
• Check out what your competition is doing that you're not, then test to see what works for you.
• Start simple. If you've never done creative testing , start with a basic two-way or four-way test. Don't get so elaborate with your initial testing that all your creative energy gets zapped by managing the logistics of a huge test panel matrix.
• Just because a test ad or test mailing beats your control doesn't mean it should automatically become the new control. Test and re-test to confirm that your initial results weren't just a fluke.
Why should you test?
• Test continually so you have a new control in the making.
• Test to learn something new about your customer's behavior, wants and needs.
• Test to confirm a gut feeling or personal opinion (a personal opinion is a sample of one).