Make Them an Offer They Can't Refuse
This begs the important question, what should YOU test?
Here are three significant variables, other than the phrasing of your offer, that you might want to consider testing:
1. The offer itself
As Bob Stone, the dean of the direct response business put it, "The propositions you make to customers can mean the difference between success or failure. Depending on the offer, differences in response of 25, 50, 100 percent and more are commonplace."
2. Your list
Rather than mail to everyone on a single list, rent the minimum number of names on a few lists and test an identical package with each one. Once you've selected the winner, you can roll out in force.
3. Your media buys
How do you know which publications are exactly right for your product or service if you don't give them a try? Remember, you can always test a small-space ad in several publications as a measurement tool. After you determine the magazines you want to be in, you can go full page, full blast.
Also, don't forget to experiment with different ad sizes. Starch INRA Hooper testing proved that one-third page ads can actually score higher than their half-page counterparts.
The takeaway message this month? It doesn't always make sense to "go with your gut" and make key business decisions based on instinct. If you possibly can, do some testing first and then make them an offer they can't refuse.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel and Microsoft. Levison writes direct mail, emails and Web copy. For a free subscription to his monthly email newsletter for marketers, and a free copy of his report, "101 Ways to Double Your Response Rates!", visit www.levison.com.