Test to Find the Right Paper for You
Dear Dr. pROfIt: I'm responsible for the paper contract at my company. I really think we're doing our company a disservice by not providing customers with the best shopping experience possible. I believe the best shopping experience possible includes high-quality paper that exudes all of the qualities represented by our brand. How can I convince our marketing department that we should use better paper when we mail catalogs?
Dr. pROfIt: I don’t think there's a need to convince anybody what should be done. The optimal strategy can be derived in the form of a test. Ask your marketing department to randomly divide customers into three segments. The first segment receives catalogs printed on better-quality paper; the second segment receives catalogs printed on the same paper quality you currently use; and the third segment receives catalogs printed on lower-quality paper than what you currently use.
It's important to test each segment. Most often marketers want to learn how an improved branding experience may or may not lead to increased sales; not as many want to test how a marginalized branding experience may or may not lead to increased sales.
Execute this test once every six months — well, at least once a year if you can afford to. The test will identify the paper weight that leads to the most profit. When you execute the next test, measure one weight above and one weight below your current paper weight. This way you're always identifying what the best strategy is. If customer behavior shifts over time, you'll easily align yourself with the optimal paper weight.
Marketers often fall into two camps: those who want catalogs printed on expensive paper in order to offer customers an outstanding branding experience, and those who want to minimize corporate expense. The second camp attempts to minimize expense by using inexpensive paper.
My advice: Listen to your customers. By executing tests, you identify the strategy that customers indicate is most profitable. It's always best to let customers pick the most profitable strategy!