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How To Use Testing 
for Breakthrough Marketing Results

By Yanik Silver
guest columnist

Advertising is expensive. And it costs you the same amount of money to run an ad (or mail a letter) that brings in 2 customers as one that drives in 20 customers. So that difference is in your ad (or letter).

Let's say you've come up with what you think is a good ad (powerful headline, good offer, sizzling copy, etc.), now you're ready to test.

Testing will help you:

1. Save yourself a bunch of money.

2. Improve any results you're currently getting.

3. Stop guessing about what works.

I'd say those are some pretty good reasons to learn all about testing and how to apply it to your business. So before spending loads of money on your new ad you can (and should) do a few low-cost/no-cost tests:

The Sleep On It Test

First, you should let your ad sit for at least a day. Then the next day you can come back to it with new eyes and a fresher perspective. You can find errors that weren't apparent before. Also, your chances of writing a good ad are significantly improved with rewriting. (I will rewrite an ad or letter 3, 4 or 5 times before I'm done.)

Reading Aloud Test

I don't know what it is about reading something aloud versus reading to yourself, but you'll pick up lots and lots of insight into how good (or bad) your ad really is by reading it aloud. All the bumps and rough spots jump out at you.

Or a variation on this is to have someone else read it you. This is even better. As they're reading it, you should take out a copy of the ad and make notes on it. One big advantage of this is your reader is completely impartial. He won't stress certain phrases or words to make the meaning clearer. And if the reader is having trouble you know that's an area to edit.

Sneaky Opinion Test

This test is really great. Take your ad off your printer and make a xerox copy of it. Then go around to a few people who should be in your target market and say something like, "Take a look at this, I just found this in a magazine." Key point: Do not tell people you wrote the ad because they'll be say how nice it is.

You're gauging their response. If they say something like "Did you write this?" or "This is really good." What that really means is your ad stinks.

But if you start hearing "Do you know how I can get this done?" or "Do you do this?" then you know you're on to something good and ready to spend money on your test.

Opinions are great, but the only votes that really count are the ones that are paid for. The first thing you *don't* want to do is call every newspaper, magazine, throw-away, etc. You need to start by testing small. And that means spending as little as possible to get accurate results.

Test Small

Joe Sugarman (He sold millions of Blu-blocker sunglasses) tells how he would test all his ads in the Southwestern edition of the Wall Street Journal. Because this was the cheapest and smallest edition of the Journal to test.

That way he was able to read results quickly and then decide whether or not to 'roll-out' to other editions. So how can you apply this information to your business?


Let's say you've been running ads in your local paper. Well, usually newspapers have zoned editions based on zip codes. So instead of paying for your ad to appear in the entire circulation, you simply put it in one of the cheapest and most representative zones available.

And by tracking the response (using a specific phone#, person, extension#, etc.) you can safely predict what results you'll get once you go out to the entire circulation.

One more point: It's better to run your test ad in a daily paper instead of a monthly magazine. Simply because you can ascertain information more quickly.

Don't Fall for Your Ad Rep's Traps

You cannot multiply zero. That means if there is no life in your ad -- kill it before it drains more money and time from you.

Don't listen to your media rep's b.s. about repetition and getting discounts for multiple insertions. Remember, these guys have no clue about how to create advertising that works. If they did, they'd be running ads in their own magazines and making tons of money.

Infomercial marketers realize this point. Imagine spending $100,000.00 to produce one single 30 minute spot and then buying $400 - $1,000 in media to test it out. That's what infomercial companies do.

They know if the phones aren't ringing after a couple of TV spots -- they're definitely not going to ring if they throw tens of thousands of dollars in media at it, either.

Follow these tips and you'll be able to save a lot of money plus increase response. Just test until you come up with a winner and then keep running it!

(c)2000 Surefire Marketing, Inc.

Yanik Silver has developed a whole series of sales letter templates that you can use to help attract more customers to your business. In less than 3 minutes you can create a winning letter guaranteed to sell your product or service...WITHOUT WRITING!

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