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Test, Test, Test . . . and Test Some More
| The idea of testing is one of the most basic principles in marketing. You see, no one knows everything. I know that there are marketers out there that promise that their techniques will work for everyone, but that's just a bunch of nonsense.
Every single successful business that uses marketing, also uses testing. Professional marketers test every single factor in a promotion that they run. For example, if they are doing a direct mail project
they'll test the envelope, color of paper, font, headline, offer, price, deadline, date letter was mailed, using a P.S. to close a letter, and hundreds of other factors in the pursuit of designing the most
effective marketing possible.
But don't worry, you won't have to test every single piece of a promotion (unless you want to). But why should you even test?
I know, I know. It's a lot easier just to get a strategy, or an advertisement, and run with it. But you know what? Nothing works for everyone. As much as I would like for it to be otherwise, the truth of the matter is that this is reality. Not every strategy that I will share with you, and not every promotion that someone else teaches you, will always work for you.
There are plenty of reasons why. You can be practicing in an area where the population is too high or too low, where managed care is too strong or too weak, where the income level of the population is too high or too low, or hundreds of other factors.
So in truth, the easiest way to find out what works, and what doesn't, is by testing.
There are two basics to test: The strategy itself, and the components of the strategy. For example, if the strategy involves sending a direct mail promotion to previous prospects, then the components would be the direct mail letters that you send out.
But how do you know if a problem is with a strategy or with a component? This is kind of difficult. Normally if you use a strategy, and it brings results, but not what would be considered the best, then the problem is usually with the component. Try testing different direct mail letters and see if that makes a difference.
On the other hand, if you get no response at all, then normally the problem is with the strategy itself.
Sometimes you can salvage a strategy or a component, and other times you can't. If a strategy, or a component, is not performing up to par, try making changes and see if that makes a difference.
If it doesn't make a difference, try changing something else. Eventually, after you try several changes, and nothing works, you would at this point be better off in dropping the strategy or component, and use something else altogether.
And this brings me to the importance of keeping track. If you're testing several promotions (in fact, even if you're testing just one promotion) you will need to keep a journal for recording the results.
The journal will allow you to keep track of results, and by analyzing the data in the journal, you will be able to learn from your mistakes, and learn what works, and what doesn't. The goal of testing is
to minimize your losses and maximize your profits, and a proper journal will be invaluable in helping you do just that.
What should be included in the journal? Well on the top of each page (and you will want to use a separate page for each test) you will want to write down the name of the promotion that you are testing,
and a brief description of the promotion.
Next you will want to write down exactly what the promotion includes and what makes it different from the other promotions that you've tested. Then you will want to note the results that you got from the promotion: How many patients you acquired, the quality of the patients, and other pieces of information which might be useful to you.
After doing some testing, you will find that certain promotions, strategies, or advertisements work better than others. These are called "controls." In future tests, your goal is to beat those controls.
Those promotions, strategies, and advertisements that you will be testing against the controls are called "tests." After a while, you'll notice that it will be harder and harder to beat the controls. This usually means that your controls have become very honed, and
your best course of action is to "roll out" which basically means use the controls in as much promotions as you can.
Also, I want you to keep in mind that you can only test one variable at a time. The reason is simple. If you make more than one change in a test, then you will not know what caused the change in response. So if you are testing a headline in an advertisement,
then all you can change is the headline. If you change the headline, and a part of the text, then you will not know if the change in response is due to the headline or the text. Worse, your response might be
exactly the same, but that can be due to the changes in the headline and text canceling each other out. So remember, test only one change at a time.
As a last note, you need to keep in mind that when you are testing, there are no failures. There are zero responses, but as long as you learn from a test that brought in a bad response, then the test was a
success. With more testing, you will be able to refine your marketing to be extremely effective.
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