Speaker: Blend Numerical, Creative Sides in Testing

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ORLANDO, FL -- Direct marketing testing is more than simply understanding the science portion, John Marinello told a standing-room-only audience at the Direct Marketing Association annual show yesterday.

The president of Marinello Advertising Inc., Tampa, FL, gave his remarks at a 7:15 a.m. session titled "The Art and Science of Successful Direct Marketing Testing."

"Deciding who you are going to test to and what you are going to test, those are the key elements that make successful testing," he said. "Sounds like a simple statement, but there's a lot more to it."

He offered his thoughts on what he described as creative marketing, in which marketing information is combined with the creative process, "something that, frankly, I see very little of being done."

Creative people and marketing people tend to stay on different sides of the room, he said, tend not to want to spend much time together and tend to be different types of people.

"But in reality they're not different at all," he said. "They're very much the same. They're both creative marketers."

He discussed various aspects of testing. Tests such as envelope color, headlines, teasers, paper stocks and premiums were described as crucial, but he cautioned that they are not the only things worth testing.

His examples included finding new product lines, finding new media, learning who is your best customer to acquire, thinking about developing new businesses, expanding your back end, expanding your customer base, deciding the number of mailings in a series and determining whether adding outside package insert programs to your back end can help your business.

"The list is endless," he said. "The real creativity is in discovering and finding which ones you need to test."

The most important thing direct marketers can learn, he said, is it's important that test development is not exclusive to marketing personnel.

"I don't think creativity is exclusive in the hands of the creative team," he said. "You have to keep an open mind [regarding] what to test. The data you see is only as good as the person interpreting it."

He also advised attendees to know their limitations prior to testing.

"If you allow yourself to involve everyone in the process when trying to decide what it is that you need to make your business grow, you will have success," he said.

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