Although I’m not a ‘numbers’ person, i.e. I hate accounting, nit-picking and navel gazing… I completely subscribe to numbers when it comes to writing and marketing.
Here’s the thing: if you run an ad, put out a direct mail campaign or run a team of sales people for that matter, the bottom line is: how much did it make you? Seems obvious, but, believe it or not, most people do not track this stuff very well.
The things I look for when embarking on any project whose end result is intended to be sales are as follows:
- what is the value of the sales derived from this activity?
- what is the number of responses to this activity?
- what is the difference between the number of responses and sales?
- what is the timeline of the responses when compared to the activity
- etc etc
The reason I look at these factors is that by knowing these statistics, I can calculate the real cost of the activity and the real profit. By testing various elements of the activity, I can then determine which activities produce more bottom line results and how to tweak those activities to produce even better results over time.
Sounds logical, don’t you think? Trouble is, most people are in too much of a hurry. They simply want to throw an activity at their target market and hope it will produce something positive. Many times, it barely produces but everyone looks busy, and they believe that if they look busy, it’s all good.
Marketing and sales are really very predictable if they’re implemented in a scientific fashion. Writing copy for marketing and sales is also very scientific. The key is to be prepared to be accountable for results. This isn’t always easy or fair, though.
Say for instance, you as a writer are prepared to be accountable for the results of your copy, but your client cannot see the value in testing different headlines or different response mechanisms. Perhaps your client is in a real hurry to get a campaign out in front of his market – he needs the sales yesterday – and of course, he’s set a very tight deadline. You are in a position where you can a) politely refuse to write on that basis or b) suck it up and do the job hoping like heck your first attempt is a winner.
Whichever choice you make, you’re likely to end up with a not too happy client at the end of the day.
Here’s how I suggest you go about the situation:
Educate. Educate . Educate.
Most people simply don’t understand the process of testing and how much of an impact it can make on the bottom line – how much time, money and frustration it will eventually save! Once they have this understanding, they will still need to be helped to understand the necessity of beginning adopting this model sooner rather than later. By working with them to schedule campaigns to allow enough preparation and testing time, you’ll have more success than just harping on the fact that it needs to be done.
If I’m confronted by this kind of situation, I would educate my client and try to reach an agreement that this would be how things would be handled in future. As far as the present ‘urgent’ project was concerned, if it was a client I really wanted to work with, I’d probably do my very best to come up with a winner on the understanding that the client accepted that he was stacking the deck against himself. I guess I understand what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk!