National Clothesline
As we enter spring, you should be finalizing your direct marketing budget plans.
As you do this, you will likely be faced with many marketing decisions.
Those decisions should be made
quickly, but often they’re not.
whether it’s information overload
from so many options or analysis
paralysis and you’re afraid to make a
Today we explore five ways to
make marketing decisions quicker
and more confidently.
A mere generation ago, direct marketing decisions were limited to direct mail customer file or
rented lists, space ads in magazines, package inserts, direct response broadcast, and a few
other media options.
Fast forward to now, and the direct marketing decision landscape has grown exponentially
with online and cross-promotional media options. Every season reveals new, unexplored online
opportunities. Some are fads. Some turn out to have real value.
So for your direct marketing budget planning, here are five recommendations of how to
evaluate opportunities and make decisions more quickly and confidently.
1. Cost per response.
An important metric for most direct marketers is the marketing cost per response (per lead,
inquiry, sale — whatever your situation). This core metric may be your most significant
contributor to your decisions.
2. Allocation of unknown response sources.
If you’re in a situation where you have a significant number of responses for which you can’t
pinpoint a specific marketing source, consider a weighted-average allocation of those responses
across marketing activities. With some imagination, you should be able to calculate this on your
own. (Let me know if you’d like an expansion of this concept.)
3. Summarize results in a matrix.
Placing your data in a spreadsheet will put the numbers in front of you so you can see all your
activity in one place. You may want the data by media type on separate spreadsheet tabs so
you can see more granular data. (We have some templates that might help you make sense of
your direct marketing results.)
For example, on one tab you summarize results from direct mail (by list, or summed up by
customer vs. rented lists) with cost per response. If you allocated unknown orders, be sure to
include those.
Another tab might concern email results that summarize opens, clicks, conversions and cost
per response.
Other tabs could summarize pay-per-click, social media, retargeting or whatever media you
are using.
Then roll up and summarize all of the media on a tab of its own. If cost per response is most
important to you, then sort the data from the lowest cost per response to highest.
Perhaps you have “soft data” that will be a factor in your decisions. If so, add columns to
enable a written evaluation of each. Maybe your evaluation is as simple as “pluses” and
“minuses” for each opportunity.
4. Parameters for decisions.
It happens all the time. With so many choices and options, decisions can be painful and slow.
When that happens, everyone loses. When you establish the parameters for decision-making up
front, it’s easier to slice the pie into the right proportions.
5. Don’t forget test budgets.
Know ahead of time how much money you can gamble in a test. You should view the money
spent as having zero return so that if it works you’re pleasantly surprised.
A rule of thumb you might use is to allocate 10 percent of a total marketing budget to tests.
Whether it’s a direct mail list test, or new online media, the only way you can learn if those
options work for you is to test it.
Remember, too, that marketing fads can fizzle quickly. The hot new opportunity of 2013 —
not even a full year ago — may already be a distant memory.
If you have processes, or recommendations, about how you make faster, more confident
marketing decisions, please feel to email me at neils@golombgroup.com.

Neil Schroeder has been
in the marketing industry
for the past 15 years. He
is president and creative
director of the Golomb
Group, developing direct
response, social media,
in-house promotions and
web site campaigns for
drycleaners throughout
the nation. He can be
reached by phone at
(800) 833-0560, by
email at
or on the web at
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