Testing, Testing

Anyone who has sat in the business development chair will be familiar with the sudden realisation that this is where it gets real. You can have all of the theories, all of the ideas and a ton of enthusiasm but when push comes to shove you really don’t know if what you are doing is going to work or not.

And here’s the thing, there is no shame in admitting that.

Because we live in a world of penny pinching immediacy and instant gratification we seem to think that every action we take has to be super successful. Reality is not so clear cut. It is at this point that I would like to re-acquaint you with a key word, that word is test.

When was the last time you sent out communications or ran campaigns just so you could see how certain aspects work when compared to others? When did you set things up to test creative ideas or media choices with actual customers? Thought so.

If you don’t test then you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn then you run the risk of repeating the same mistakes again.

This is not a pitch to encourage you to run endless research or waste time and money on speculative ideas. It is a nudge though towards thinking about ways you can improve your all round offer, but especially your marketing communications.

What headline has generated the best response? What pricing points are most attractive? What customer targets are buying the most? This is increasingly important where marketing budgets are shrinking and there is greater reliance on digital.

Only a fool would say they have all the answers in today’s business world. To fill in the gaps we need to learn from our actions. We can do that from measuring responses, asking questions and researching trends and behaviours. An approach of test, assess, change, learn and repeat would drive those business improvements and start to provide some of those answers.

One of the great benefits of digital platforms is the ability to do a lot of this testing quickly, cost effectively and with helpful reporting and measurement.

A final thought to finish with, marketing communications, especially advertising has often had an uneasy relationship with research, preferring gut instinct over testing the public’s responses and desires. Some thought differently. Advertising godfather David Ogilvy said “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals”.

He went on to say “Test your promise. Test your media. Test your headlines and your illustrations. Test the size of your advertisements. Test your frequency. Test your level of expenditure. Test your commercials. Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Ogilvy was wise enough to know that he didn’t know everything and that research and testing, far from being hindrances to creating good marketing, actually took that good marketing and gave it the chance to be great.


Posted by Lisa

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