Direct Marketing Article
What to do When a Promotion Bombs
By Bob Bly
Here's a situation we've all faced: you send out a mailing you think is
great, and it falls flat on its face. Now what?
Well, if it's a product launch, and the best package you could create
doesn't come anywhere even close to break-even, it's probably the product,
not the promotion. Simply put, the product is a bad idea: The topic won't
work with that audience.
Should you try again with the same piece or same idea? Probably not. In
direct marketing, it's usually best to cut your losses early. If an idea
isn't working, find another that will. But don't throw away more good money
on a bad idea.
Also, be realistic when assessing the negative effects of time- and
event-based depressions in mailing results. Yes, 9/11, a stock market crash,
or a recession can lower your response rates - but all the way to zero?
If competitors are still doing a decent level of business despite the
setback, and your response is nil, then you can't blame the economy, the
environment, or the market. There's a deeper flaw in your mailing which
sending it out again at a better time will not likely rectify.
Study your list results. If just one or two lists pulled a halfway decent
response - even though, overall, the mailing was unprofitable - there may be
a glimmer of hope. You may want to retest the winning lists along with
additional lists that reach a similar audience.
Test as many lists as possible. Even for business-to-business products
appealing to narrow vertical markets, the best-performing list may outpull
the worst-performing list by 5:1 or more - though on the surface, the lists
and the market they reach appear almost identical. You simply have to test.
Perhaps price was the problem. There are some markets that are not price
sensitive; but most are. Have you tested enough price points to find whether
what you're asking is what the customer is willing to pay?
And keep in mind that the low price doesn't always win. A too-low price can
create the perception of low value - an impediment to brisk sales.
Copywriter Gary Bencivenga says that a format test - varying the package
size and type - can be as effective, or even more effective, than a copy
change in lifting response.
If you already know that short copy works best for your offer, test your #10
letter package against a postcard, double postcard, self-mailer, and other
proven short formats.
If you already know that long copy works best for you, test your #10 letter
package against a #11 or a #14, a 6 X 9, a jumbo (9 X 12). Also test against
a magalog, a tabloid, a bookalog, and other long-copy formats.
About the Author:
Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 25 years
of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct
marketing. He has written copy for over 100 clients including Network
Solutions, ITT Fluid Technology, Medical Economics, Intuit, Business & Legal
Reports, and Brooklyn Union Gas...and has won numerous industry awards. Bob
is the author of more than 70 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Direct Marketing (Alpha Books) and The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt &
Co.). Visit: www.BobBlyMarketingBooks.com