Carol Worthington-Levy

What to test? When to test? How to test? Questions for the ages! It's a little hard for me to tell you without knowing what your mail quantity is, but I'm going to suggest something that may take away the sting of an A/B split test. First, do a control test vs. an A vs. B test. That's right, a true test will take equal-sized blocks of your housefile and devote each one to a control (i.e., no offer) vs. an A and a B.  

Review the space ads you're placing now. What's the single thought you want consumers to have when they see your ad? Is there an offer? A deadline for the offer? Is it clear what you want readers to do after looking at the ad? If you're not sure, don't hesitate to reach out for a quick critique. With a stronger campaign in place, make every ad dollar you spend work its hardest!

Everyone in business has to sell. In the long run, it's what keeps you alive and growing. Yet there are times I hear clients say they're willing to give up sales to support the brand. Are you kidding? Never! That's evidence of grave dysfunction between creative and marketing.

One morning a few months ago, I experienced a true moment. I realized that, after spending the majority of my 25-plus-year career covering the catalog business, that business can no longer be treated as such. Today, it's really about selling and serving any way the consumer wants you to.

If you’d asked last year what I thought the strongest word in catalog and direct selling was, without hesitation I would have said, “FREE.” “Free” always tests strong. Even in e-mail subject line scenarios where you’d expect spam filters to knock them out, response is so strong that it more than makes up for the ones filtered out. But this year it appears that “YOU” has become more important. And while most catalogs and Web sites seem to pretend this word doesn’t even exist, they’re missing out on a personal powerhouse word that trumps all others when used properly. I reached this conclusion

During a recent conference, I spent many an hour critiquing catalogs for managers hungry for ways to make their catalogs work smarter. I noticed one prevalent flaw: Most of the catalogs were written and designed for a customer who disappeared 10 years ago. As surely as our world is changing, so is the public, particularly catalog prospects and customers. Today’s customers are: • overloaded with information; • time-impoverished; • overstimulated by world events; and • feeling a financial pinch. What’s more, customers are jaded from being force-fed hyperbole. And while catalogers have little control over the four issues above, they're often

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