The ABCs of Testing
When it comes down to it, the key element that separates direct marketing from other marketing techniques is the offer. Direct marketing campaigns are meant to sell products and services; a two-step campaign may be needed to explain the offer, but the desired result is a concrete sale.
That's why marketers who think they can stuff image advertising into an envelope and generate results tend to lose money on those campaigns.
Since you can measure response, you can also determine which offers and mailings work best. When you get an order, you can surmise that something about the way you asked for the prospect's business was on the money.
When response starts to flag on a control, you know it's time to breathe some new life into it. And, of course, you don't want to wait until your best mailing dies before testing new ideas. Marketers who weather the changing times continually test offers, copy and creative; they also rely on several direct mail packages to bring in sales.
If you're having trouble viewing your offer in a new light, listen to the experts: Look to other proven controls and borrow techniques to adapt for your own efforts.
With the help of the direct mail archive service, DM Source, we've rounded up several long-term controls (Axel Andersson Grand Controls) to provide you with fresh ideas.
Some of the most interesting offers ever to be found come from newsletter publishers. This control from the University of California at Berkeley (at right) has been mailing for many years with only minor tweaks along the way.
The mainstay of its simple appeal is the free issue offer; thus nearly every element in the package is geared to support this approach. The letter dives right into the meat of the offer in the first paragraphs: