Market research specialists have discovered a new tool which enables them to quickly identify target market cells, measure buyer acceptance, test new product or service concepts quickly and inexpensively and survey market characteristics…the Direct Response Card Deck.
For two to four cents per contact, the researcher can now gather market intelligence from both specialized vertical markets (lawyers, doctors, etc.) or broad based horizontal markets (all marketing executives across industry lines). In addition, these same markets can now be tested in such confined geographical areas as business executives in Hawaii or professionals in Minneapolis.
Not only does the marketer overcome one of the traditional problems in research–test sizes… he or she also reaps the huge advantage of accurate measurability and accountability. Since all responses can be directed back to the research organization, market feedback is both quick and accurate.
Many firms have difficulty in obtaining statistically significant samplings through traditional channels because of budget restrictions.
It’s not uncommon for important strategy decisions to be made on the basis of sampling as few as 2,000 names out of a universe of several million potential buyers. This is risky at best. It could lead to marketing disaster based on serious sampling error, or wrong conclusions drawn from insufficient data.
With direct response card packs, it is now possible to test or survey as many as 100,000 potential buyers for as little as $2,000 or less. For the direct marketer this results in meaningful figures which are both statistically significant and forecastable.
Proper analysis of this larger sampling should result in strategy decisions which are more accurate, more meaningful, more valid, and more profitable for the direct marketer.
The ability to order and conduct true A/B (or more) split run tests of offers, prices, etc. has important implications for the creative team.
The marketing intelligence gathered through card packs can be a valuable road map to success. Critically important data, discovered through card deck advertising, can determine the answers to such questions as:
==> Have we targeted to the correct audience?
==> Is the audience responsive to the degree necessary to maximize potential profitability?
==> Do we have the right combination of offer, price, copy, graphics, headlines, terms, etc.?
==> Are the response/profit characteristics such that they justify testing such other direct response media as direct mail, space or broadcast advertising?
==> Is there potential for a variation of this product/service to be marketed to a closely related audience?
==> What is the potential for back-end profits from related item sales?
==> Are we barking up the wrong tree? Should we cut our losses now and thank our luck stars that we were able to discover, inexpensively, that we were wrong?
While the advantage of card decks as a market research tool outweigh the disadvantages, there are some restrictions you need to be aware of:
1. The card itself is small (about 3″x5″) and as such restricts your ability to test such things as long copy and multiple option offers. Some decks provide larger format sizes with the ability to do fold-over inserts which provide more space, but these options are at a substantial premium in price. The small space can work to your advantage because it forces you to limit your testing to those factors that have the most profound affect on response and profitability…i.e. offer and price, for example.
2. Color reproduction, if it is important to your product, is not always the best. The conventional .007 Hi Bulk paper stock normally used in card decks is not the best choice for color printing. Most deck publishers, however, offer a coated stock option and you may find it useful.
3. Response rates are,on the average, lower in card decks (1/4th of one percent to 1 percent) than they might be in a free standing direct mail package. On the surface this may appear to be a disadvantage. In fact it is not.
Your goal in market research/testing is to obtain statistically significant data across the broadest sampling possible…consistent with budgetary limits.
Card decks allow you to achieve this goal, precisely. It’s much better to have a 1/4th of 1% response from a 100,000 name universe (250 responses) than to have a 12.5% (250 responses) from a small 2,000 name test cell. Although the total numbers are the same, the former example gives you a truer picture of market conditions and possible product/service acceptance.
In summation, we have found that direct response card decks, if used properly, can be ideal market research tools. Card decks are inexpensive to use. They give quick accurate and projectable results. They reduce the risk of sampling error, and the resulting data is both statistically significant and inherently more valid.
There’s only one way to know for sure…test it!
©Copyright 2005 Thom Reece All Rights Reserved