IT or MIS? The Answer Is in the Test

Share this content:
If database solutions firm Hot Data, Austin, TX, would have stayed with the funny mailer chosen in its focus groups before dropping its business-to-business direct mail program, it would not have had anything to laugh about. Instead, however, with the help of Lyon Advertising, also of Austin, - and a little testing - it went with a simple, to-the-point mailer, and the last laugh is in the results.


"I don't trust focus groups when it comes to direct mail," said Ellis Oglesby, marketing director for Hot Data. "We ran these mailers past six different focus groups, and every group said that the humorous piece was the best. If we had launched a 250,000-piece mailer based on that information alone, we would have missed a lot of sales."


Oglesby's most recent experience with testing reveals a quintessential truth about the direct marketing industry: You don't know until you wield the tools of the science. And you can't make informed decisions until you have real analysis in front of you.


Hot Data said it recently tested two different offers for database products using two different creative executions for a total of four different pieces. "We dropped 5,000 of each," said Oglesby. "That gave us a sizable sample. And based on the testing, we eventually dropped 250,000 mailers nationwide."


He said the simple, to-the-point "Fill-in-the-Blanks" mailer pulled more than twice as much as the funny but far less performing "Wrong Data" mailer showing everything from ex-convicts receiving credit cards, to Mary Kay representatives arriving at college fraternity houses.


"I think the lesson here is about humility, not humor. You're not smarter than the market. You have to remember the importance of coming up with the best ideas you can, and then let your prospects decide which ones you use."


Oglesby said the company now knows - based on facts, not opinion - who its best prospects are, where they are and what they want. He's also used the information to begin developing a new line of products that he's confident will be very popular.


Oglesby also confirmed something else in his research: Sales reps and sales managers generally make the purchase decision. It's not an IT or MIS decision, as one might expect.

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above