Searching for the Genius Moment

The myth of the Genius Moment in Direct Marketing

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If you have ever planned a marketing campaign you’ll understand this. Sitting looking at a blank piece of paper, desperately trying to find the inspiration for that next brilliant ad-creative – the one that will rank up there with Russian Meerkats and sprinters impersonating Richard Branson. The idea that is so funny and compelling that it will take Youtube by storm and transform your brand over night. Some of us may even think we have had that moment, only to find out that our customers weren’t quite as convinced.

In reality, very few of the most successful brands are built on genius moments like this. They are built on something much less flashy, but much more important. Testing. I am always amazed at the number and size of brands that waste huge amounts of energy and money on campaigns that they will only ever use once and then start from scratch again next month. Certainly none of them would treat a new product launch that way, but when it comes to marketing they somehow forget the basics of business and try to be the next Erickson or McCann.

Effective testing doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are very few situations where it can’t be applied. Here are a three easy steps to building an effective testing culture and making sure you get the most out of your marketing budget…

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  • Have a plan – Planning a test doesn’t require you to know whether something will work or not – after all finding that out is the whole purpose of the test in the first place. But, you do need to plan your tests. Don’t just pick a new header image because you like it – consider what you are actually trying to achieve, who is going to be reading it, what do you want them to do about it, will it mean the same thing to them as it does to you? Have a theory then test it.
  • Keep it simple – When you have found something that works, build on it. Sure there will be times when you need to re-think the whole idea, but in the mean time only change one thing at a time and see what impact it has before changing something else. Complicated test matrixes often look impressive on Powerpoint but unless you have a lot of time and resources to test them, you’ll probably just get frustrated
  • Don’t rush it – Without getting too geeky here, make sure that the results are statistically valid as far as possible. Quite simply, give the test enough time to make sure any improvements are because of the test and not the weather or just dumb luck! I’ve often heard excited marketers talk about 150% uplifts in response to a new test, but when you look a bit deeper all that means is that they got 2 extra sales and it’s only been live for a day.
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Don’t get put off if this all seems just a bit too complicated or fiddly. The benefits can be huge, a 3% increase in response over a month might not seem like much, but if you can keep building on that with other small wins, it soon starts to look a lot more impressive.