In Praise of Dry Testing
Wet Test vs. Dry Test
I have another client—a European book club—that decided to launch in the United States by translating its highly successful mail piece and books into American English and offering them to 100,000 prospects on four lists. It was hoping for 2,000 subscribers to fulfill four cycles and then quit, so it could read both front-end and back-end response, and decide whether or not to continue. We got 2,950 subscribers with some lists pulling better than 4 percent. The client is now in the process of analyzing retention and payments, while the U.S. marketing team works on the September continuation (if there is to be one).
Many years ago, a client of mine did a series of market research surveys and came up with nine potentially winning projects—seven books (or series of books), a continuity card series for Civil War buffs, and a needlepoint continuity series (Frederic Remington cowboy paintings on pillows or chair seats, if you can believe it). I was hired to write and design the dry test packages. Eight of the nine did just fine (you can guess which one bombed). We never asked for money or for a credit card number. Delay letters were written to all who ordered, the products were produced, and the company made a ton of money.
However, at one point, the client's corporate lawyers were getting skittish over the idea of dry tests and the
violation of FTC rules. They wanted to say on the mailing, in effect, "This product does not exist," which would have been a deal killer.
My client and his lawyers went round and round on this point, and finally settled on a line of type they felt would satisfy the FTC. In 9-point type under the name and address on the order card was the following line of copy: