“The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. If you pretest your product with consumers, and pretest your advertising, you will do well in the marketplace.”

David Ogilvy

This one time, in 1978, I tried to get a date for the 8th grade Valentine’s Day dance at my junior high school. Acting like the marketer I would become, I first selected my target market of girls I was interested in, based mainly on their demonstrated ability to spend 20 minutes in my company without getting grossed out or offended.

Having narrowed my market, I next chose my medium. Face to face was out of the question, as the only way to get one of those girls alone would have been to shove her in a janitor’s closet. So the medium would be the telephone.

One night, about two weeks before the dance, I purloined the corded phone in my parents’ bedroom, locked myself in my room with a phonebook, and prepared for my first foray into outbound telemarketing.

It wasn’t going to be pretty. I was cursed with limited sales experience and a rather dubious product: three hours with me in a school cafeteria doing the Bump and the Hustle to what we knew even then was some of the worst music ever created. Not to mention the obligatory slow dances.

So I knew I would have to practice. Luckily, I had expanded my prospect list to include several dozen girls who barely knew I existed and, therefore, could be counted on not to have any predisposition to say no to my suggestion of a date.

I found the phone number of the first one and tried to dial. As my shaking finger punched the last digit, I realized with a shudder that I had forgotten the name of the girl I was calling. A man’s voice answered, “Hello?”

“Urggly,” I said.

“Hello?” he repeated. I began to panic. I had to do something.

“Um, hi, is there an 8th grade girl at this location?” I stammered through the asthma I had just mysteriously acquired.

“Who is this?” the voice demanded, in a somewhat hostile tone, I thought.

As I hung up, I remember feeling distinctly grateful that Caller ID would not be invented for another decade or so.

I obviously needed a plan. I wrote a script, complete with openings crafted for any eventuality: phone answered by prospect, by prospect’s parent, by prospect’s sibling, by answering machine, by random burglar, etc.

I practiced that script in the mirror for several hours. Then I returned to the phone and started dialing. This time, I took note of the name of my prospect – Ilene, a girl who went to my Hebrew school and was, therefore, morally obliged to pretend to tolerate me, at least when her parents were watching.

I dialed six digits and then hung up before I could consummate the call, certain that my opening line of, “Hello, is Ilene there?” was going to be a total bomb. I crossed it out and wrote, “Hi, may I speak with Ilene please?”

But that seemed too formal. “Hi, is Ilene there?” seemed to convey the right tone, but I didn’t approve of the cadence. And so on…

Long story, short (well, not so short, but not as long as it could have been), I didn’t make a single call. I procrastinated by drinking water, doing my social studies essay three days early, brushing my teeth several times, and even gargling once. I think I might have actually practiced my violin at one point. Finally, exhausted and ashamed, I returned the phone to my parents’ room, caught the 11:00 p.m. rerun of M*A*S*H, and went to bed.

This brings me – in a rather roundabout way – to what I want to talk about today: testing and tracking, a key strategy for marketing success.

You see, no matter what your online conversion rate, the success of your telephone close, or the effectiveness of your newspaper advertising, if you aren’t routinely testing different approaches and measuring results, you are leaving the lion’s share of business on the table.

Mail-order companies have known about testing and tracking for almost a hundred years. But it was a well-kept secret, largely because it was a tremendously difficult endeavor. If you wanted to test two different headlines in a newspaper ad, you had to figure out a way to get half of the papers to show one headline and the other half to show the second headline. Major logistical nightmare. And then you needed a way to determine which customer saw which ad. Also not easy. And then you had to keep track of the results by using a paper spreadsheet or ancient punch-card-eating mainframe.

In the old days, testing was for the big boys only. And those who did it accumulated unbeatable advantages over their competitors. Their major task was to beat their “control,” to discover a new approach that was even better than their current best one.

For example, here are two headlines for a correspondence course in English grammar:

1. The Man Who Simplified English
2. Do You Make These Mistakes in English?

Headline #1 was a failure, while Headline #2 was a smash hit. Interesting, huh? (This example, and the one that follows, is from John Caples’ book Tested Advertising Methods, 4th Edition.)

How about this pair, for a hair-growth tonic?

1. 60 Days Ago They Called Me “Baldy”
2. If I Can’t Grow Hair for You in 30 Days You Get This Check

Which one did better, #1 or #2? Before you answer, consider that both headlines were considered strong enough to run by some of the smartest, most experienced, highest paid advertising copywriters in the world. (Keep reading for the answer.)

If those copywriters couldn’t tell for sure which one would be best, then how can you or I expect to find the perfect headline, offer, photo, story, price, guarantee, proof, testimonial, etc. to sell our goods and services? There’s no way, unless… unless… unless we can find a way to run our own tests and figure out the results. And for those of us who do our marketing online that’s not a problem.

Enter (trumpets blaring) Google AdWords. With AdWords, you can test in minutes or days what used to take months. You can figure out for dimes what used to cost tens of thousands of dollars. You can test ads, landing pages, order forms, e-mail sequences – everything about your online sales process. And it’s easier than calling Ilene on the phone and asking for a date (in my experience).

And that awkward segue brings me back to my Valentine’s Day Dance Sales Failure. I failed not because I called 45 girls and they all told me to get lost. No. I failed because I didn’t call any of them. I was prepared with several approaches, and it’s certainly possible that at least one of them would have worked. But because I didn’t try anything, I didn’t learn anything. So when the 9th grade talent show/social rolled around the following year, I was no better equipped to get a date than I had been the year before.

The point is, if you’re just serving one Web page to all your visitors, you’re not learning. You’re not improving. And if you’re standing still online, you’re falling back. Because at least one of your competitors has gotten their hands on my book AdWords For Dummies. (You knew this is where I was going, right?)

Look at them, poring over Chapter 13 right now, learning all the tricks of split-testing.

So… which one of those headlines for the hair-growth tonic do you think did better? Turns out that Headline #1 (60 Days Ago They Called Me “Baldy”) did much better than Headline #2 (If I Can’t Grow Hair for You in 30 Days You Get This Check).

In the old days, a lot of time and money had to be spent to get the answer. But nowadays, give me a Google account, $10, and AdWords For Dummies, and I can give you a headline that can double your sales almost instantly. Better yet, you get the book, do it yourself, and who needs me? I’m still trying to get Ilene on the phone.

[Ed. Note: Testing is the only way you can determine whether your marketing efforts are working – or draining your coffers. You can make money a lot faster with insider secrets for testing your product. Click here to find out how you can get “mentored” by a team of ETR business-building and marketing experts.

And you can learn how to master Google AdWords for less than 17 bucks – from AdWords guru and best-selling author Howie Jacobson himself – right here.]

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== Highly Recommended ==

Confidential Blueprint for How the Super-Rich Became So Wealthy

I want to put into your hands a little-known blueprint that could bring you almost automatic success. And yes, your chance to discover financial freedom can begin in as little as 30 days.

The same advice propelled a shop-assistant, a file clerk, a factory worker, and a grocer to massive success. In fact, these same men – including Roy Speer and others I’ll name in a moment – are now billionaires (yes, billion with a “B”). And I’m confident this blueprint will work for you, too.

Read on to learn more about how the same secrets as the world’s wealthiest individuals can help you find your own financial success.


Only 7 Percent of E-Mails Are Worth Reading

By MaryEllen Tribby

I just returned from my family vacation. We rented a beautiful beach house on the ocean side of Fire Island, New York. It was wonderful. No cars are permitted on the island; everyone bikes to and from town. We played tennis daily and built sandcastles on the beach. And believe or not, for the first time in my career, I left my laptop at home. (I call it my unplugged vacation.)

Knowing I was going to be out of touch for a while, I prepared everything I needed ahead of time. That included setting up the following autoresponder message for all the e-mails I would be receiving while I was gone:

 

Hello and thank you for your e-mail.

I will be out of the office from June 12th – 24th. Due to the high volume of e-mails I receive, I will delete all e-mails sent during this time period. If your e-mail still requires attention after the 24th, please resend it.

If you need immediate attention, please contact another member of the ETR team.

Cheers,
ME

 

Well, while I was away I received 979 e-mails. Only 68 were re-sent after my return, and three had been forwarded to my assistant. That is barely over 7 percent of my e-mails that really needed attention.

Next time you go away on vacation, don’t waste your time upon your return sorting through e-mails that have either been taken care of or really did not require your attention to begin with. Set up an autoresponder like mine and delete ’em all. Then you can jump back in by taking care of tasks that actually make you money – right when you are fresh and raring to go!

[Ed. Note: Accomplishing your goals won’t happen unless you make the best use of your time. Simple techniques – like MaryEllen’s autoresponder e-mail – can not only help you be more productive, they can help you reach your goals faster. Learn how you can get 365 days’ worth of goal-setting strategies and advice right here.]

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Interval Training Is Heart-Healthy

By Craig Ballantyne

ETR has reported on the health and fat-burning benefits of interval training for years now. But the mainstream media is just finally catching on.

In a recent study performed at Canada’s McMaster University (my alma mater), subjects did three interval training workouts per week, featuring interval sprints. The sprints were not easy, done at the hardest pace the subjects could manage for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, another group did moderate cardio five days per week. What the researchers found was that the short-burst interval training workouts were just as heart-healthy as the moderate-intensity cardio workouts.

The intensity of interval exercise can help prevent the early onset of cardiovascular disease by reducing the stiffness of blood vessels. And now this study suggests that shorter workouts are just as good as long cardio workouts.

So, yes, replace your long cardio workouts with short-burst training. But before you get started, remember that it is important to train safely when doing intervals.

The subjects in the McMaster study did the intervals on stationary bikes, which meant they had less risk of impact injury and muscle strains compared to sprinting. (That is why I have always preferred the bike over running for interval training.) But I want to point out that they trained “all out” for 30 seconds – which I do not recommend if you are sedentary, unfit, injured, or if you have not exercised in years.

If you are a beginner to interval training but are exercising now, start by increasing the intensity of your workouts for 30 seconds and then reducing the intensity for two minutes. Continue to build up the 30-second “sprint” intensity over several workouts, until you are at a hard, but not “all out,” pace. You will still get a lot of the benefits without the risk of injury.

[Ed. Note: Long, slow cardio is NOT the way to burn fat. You can lose weight and get fit – and spend a lot less time in the gym. Learn more here.

Getting healthy is a lot easier when you have a team of health experts helping you out. Get free motivation and advice right here.]

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It’s Fun to Know: Is that Pint Really a Pint?

The next time you order a pint of your favorite frosty brew at a pub or restaurant, check out the glass. You might be getting shortchanged. In response to rising costs, some establishments have turned to raising beer prices and (shudder) substituting traditional 16-ounce pint glasses with 14-ouncers, known as “falsies.” The glasses are the same height, but the smaller version has a noticeably thicker glass bottom. Beer lovers beware.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

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 == Highly Recommended ==

How to “Unscrew” Yourself from Life’s Little Frustrations
(and the Big Ones, Too!)

When you get stuck in a royal mess – and we all do sometimes – here’s how to get out of it looking squeaky clean and grinning like a Cheshire cat…

Got a speeding ticket and afraid your insurance premiums are about to skyrocket?  Don’t sweat it.  I’ll show you the smartest way to legally beat the ticket – without hiring an expensive lawyer to plead your case.

Hate jury duty?  Let me show you how to escape it – even if the court clerk refuses to grant you an exemption.  Frustrated with airport waiting times due to tightened security?  I’ll reveal how to cut your airport waiting time in half!

Listen:  No matter which of life’s frustrations come your way, there are clever ways to easily get out of most of them.  I’m even willing to share them all with you – FREE!  Click here to learn why.


Word to the Wise: Gainsay

To “gainsay” (gane-SAY) – from the Old English for “against” + “to say” – is to deny or dispute.

Example (as used by Thomas M. Disch in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of): “In our present, imperfectly postmodern world, where most information still takes the potentially embarrassing form of printed matter lurking in archives, liars still must position themselves so that the historical record may not easily gainsay them.”

[Ed. Note: Become a more persuasive writer and speaker … build your self-confidence and intellect … increase your attractiveness to others … just by spending 10 VERY enjoyable minutes a day with ETR’s new Words to the Wise CD Library.]

 

Copyright ETR, LLC, 2008

Howie Jacobson is the author of the bestselling book AdWords for Dummies. As marketer Ken McCarthy said, “You couldn’t have put your hands on information like this for less than $5,000.”
Howie will show you – with amazing ease and insight – how to play Google like a violin, turning the sweet sound of clicks into clink. He has the brilliant ability to take a complete beginner and in almost no time flat, have them generating EXTREME amounts of traffic through Google AdWords – widely acknowledged as one of the Internet’s quickest and easiest ways to make money (IF you know how to do it right).Howie’s marketing genius has made him the man other experts turn to when they need advice for quickly growing their – or a client’s – business. But whether you’re expert or beginner, you get everything in “plain English” that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you hear one money-making secret after another. Take a look at Howie’s Pay Per Profits Advanced Insider Secrets.