Every once in a while, an intrepid mailer will throw caution to the wind and attempt to encapsulate, in a set of rules, his experience in product, list, price, offer, seasonality and creative testing.
A notable example is the formula attributed to the late Ed Mayer: “Success in direct [mailing] is dependent on the following ratios: 40 percent lists, 40 percent offer, 20 percent everything else.” My first problem with the “40-40-20” formula is the absence of the product as a basic component. The desirability of a product relative to its closest competitor(s) is nothing less than pivotal to a mailing’s success. And as a successful product matures and begins to face increased competition, the degree to which it is successfully enhanced, redesigned, or "restaged" is key to its existence. It is my experience that the relative importance of key factors continues to change, and the change is especially clear at three different stages in the life of a product: Start-up/new product Test. In contemplating a new product test we explore the downside more thoroughly than the upside. We try to minimize risk through research. But finally, if the data is sufficiently positive, we face up to the decision of a dry test versus a wet test.
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