Never Make A Major Marketing Mistake Again

In his classic book "Think And Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill lists one of the major causes on failure as people’s preference to act on opinions created by guesswork or snap-judgments rather than facts. 

Likewise, marketing decisions based on what you think will work rather than what the marketplace is willing to respond to are one of the main causes of small business failure.

As an owner of a small or medium-sized business, your livelihood depends on your ability to determine which messages will effectively attract new customers and entice your current customers to come back for more.

You can make these determinations by putting every important marketing question to a vote by the only people whose ballots count: customers and prospects.

This voting takes place in the form of small, inexpensive tests.

A market test is different than a questionnaire, a survey, or a focus group.

These methods don’t necessarily reflect your customers' willingness to put their money where their mouths are - results are usually skewed toward what the prospects think you want to hear.

Testing, on the other hand, allows you to find out which headlines, offers, prices, etc. the market will respond to before you spend a fortune on advertising.

By testing the effectiveness of certain parts of your ads on small but representative samples of your market, you can learn what works and what doesn’t.

The results are reliable because each marketing question is answered with cash, check, or a major credit card.

The ultimate purpose of testing is to demand maximum performance from every marketing dollar you spend.

You will find that one approach will always substantially outperform all others.

Unless you test, however, you wont know which approach is the best one.


You’re probably thinking that this concept of testing sounds so obvious that everyone must already be doing it.

The fact is that over 90% of your competitors continue to haphazardly run whatever advertisements seem to be pulling well lately.

Your methodically tested and calculated marketing efforts will shred their advertising to pieces, and win you their customers in the process.

In short, every aspect of your marketing can and should be tested advertising mediums, placements, headlines, prices, offers, packaging, sales pitches everything.

Through the process of diligent testing, you ensure that you will never make a major marketing mistake.

It’s impossible.

If an advertisement or promotion fails in a small-scale test, you either adjust it and test again, or scrap it for something different.

By testing, you take the guesswork and conjecture out of advertising.

You should be very scientific with your marketing - keep experimenting until you find what really works.


Here’s another little anecdote to drive home a point...

There was a man who, after 25 years in the retail jewelry business, retired and sold diamonds at true wholesale prices directly to the public from his home.

Because his prices were so low, he managed to sell several diamonds a month on the strength of word-of-mouth advertising.

He was not, however, well aquatinted with results-oriented advertising or marketing.

One day he hatched a brilliant idea...

He decided to launch a company that sold lower-end jewelry and collectibles on a nationwide basis using newspaper advertisements as his marketing medium.

He would place advertisements in newspapers which looked exactly like the Franklin Mints.

The only thing different would be his company’s name and address at the bottom of the ad.

He sharpened his pencil and figured that if his ads could pull a mere 6 responses out of every 10,000 placed, net profits would triple the ad cost.

Only three responses out of 10,000 and he would break even. If Franklin could do it, why couldn't he?

On the strength of proformas and his reputation in the community, he raised over $200,000 from local investors to launch the first product, a gemstone ring.

The initial ad cost over $60,000 for complete coverage in the Los Angeles Times' Parade Magazine.

Since the paper was delivered to several million homes, he figured to be extremely rich very soon.

To make a sad story short, the product bombed.

He tried a different product the second time, and still another the next time.

Finally, after all of his capital was depleted, he was forced to quit.

His investors were not happy. How could this have happened? All he needed was a measly 6 responses out of 10,000.

Instead of blowing the whole budget on a couple of unproven ideas, he should have taken the time to run some tests in similar magazines with smaller circulations.

These relatively inexpensive tests would have told him which ad concepts worked, which prices pulled the most orders, what kinds of terms his customers found most convenient, or anything else he needed to know before rolling out a huge, expensive campaign.

Moral to this story:

It’s better to find out what works and what doesn't when there isn’t $60,000 at stake. 

Testing will ensure you never make a major marketing mistake again - ever!

TESTING 1, 2, 3...

Like I said before, when you test one marketing variable against another, you will find that one always out-pulls all others by a significant margin. 

A price of $19 may out-pull $21 by three times.  A certain headline in a newspaper ad might out-pull another one by as many as 21 times!

As you test different approaches, carefully analyze and tabulate the results.

When you find something that out-pulls everything else, that becomes your “control.”  Once you know what works best, you can test other variables in your marketing mix.

For example, once you find a headline that works well in a magazine ad, you can then start to test it in different magazines, or different placements in the magazine, or in different sizes.

Just be sure to test not more than one variable at a time, though, or you won’t know what effect changing each one of the variables has.

Another wholesale diamond seller worked with found that his business became increasingly profitable the more he tested his advertising. 

His main selling point had always been lower-than=retail pricing.

He had successfully run ads with the headline: “WHOLESALE DIAMONDS” for several months in a row.

He was encouraged to test three or four other headlines based on low prices, including this one:

“If you’re planning on spending $2,500 on a diamond engagement ring, I’ll send you home with either a ring worth $3,800 or $1,000 still in your pocket.”

This simple re-articulation of the Unique Selling Proposition low prices graphically illustrated just how low the prices were.

It brought the ad alive to the readers.

Inquiries and sales immediately increased by over 60%.

But the story doesn’t end there. The advertisement with the above headline became his control.
He then tested some other concepts against the low price one. 

One of these concepts was based on the observation that people usually knew that wholesale diamonds were less expensive, but that they were leery of buying from a dealer that didn’t have a big, fancy showroom.

Basically, the customers confidence in wholesale dealers was not very high.

The next newspaper ad to come out combated this concern head-on.

The headline read: 

“Most peoples’ greatest fear about buying their diamond engagement ring from a wholesale jeweler is that they’ll be fooled into paying too much for an inferior diamond.”

The ad went on to explain how this wholesaler never considered any sale binding until the customer had the diamond appraised by a certified gemologist of their choice.

It also described in detail the “better than money-back guarantee” that ensured total customer satisfaction.


 The huge increase in response this ad brought drove home the importance of testing.

No marketer has the right or ability to tell the market what it will respond to.

Experience can show you what types of things tend to work best, but only testing can empirically prove what was best in every single situation.

Start immediately to test every ad you run against another one with a different headline or price or layout.

Send two relatively well-matched salesmen out with different pitches and see which one works best after a week.

Test new and different ways to articulate your Unique Selling Proposition until you find one that works best. 

When you find approaches that are making you money, keep testing to find out, How High is High”

Yes, it takes longer to test than it does to not test. But by scientifically testing every facet of your marketing, you’ll find that in the long run your advertising will be more effective, make you more money, and help your business grow more rapidly.

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