The Test Sucked. So Now What?

Technology Is Not Just For Kids
March 1, 2012
March 12, 2012

The Test Sucked. So Now What?

With great expectations, you launched your radio test.  Everything seemed in place, yet you’re now staring at spreadsheets that make your eyes water, as you squint and search for the bright spot.

The paper shredder beckons, but resist temptation.  You’ve already paid for the intelligence to succeed.

Direct Mail marketers know the diligent process of testing copy, headlines, fonts, colors, envelope size and endless list combinations.  Yet when it comes to radio, many of these same marketers run for the hills when their phones don’t ring in symphonic splendor on Day One.

Why?  Two reasons come to mind.  Radio sales reps excel at selling the excitement of radio.  So when the promised excitement fails to shoot fireworks on Day One, the fall to earth is both noticeable and painful.  There’s also the expectation that, as a broadcast medium, radio will generate the same instantaneous consumer response as DRTV.  Any successful radio advertiser will tell you that’s rarely the case, since radio listeners aren’t sitting “watching” the radio with a telephone in one hand and a credit card in the other.

So, back to the reality of a failed radio test.  What do we do next?

Find the stories.  Even if they’re weak ones.  Which creative treatment outperformed the others?  Which stations generated the lowest ROI?  Which formats?  Which dayparts?  Find the stories and then build on them.

A common next step is to isolate the single, best-performing media channel and place an affordable schedule there for the next 4-8 weeks.  Use the first week or two to rerun your best-performing commercial to set a new baseline for response.  Then test other variations on the creative in the remaining weeks.  Tweak the offer.  Use different voices.  Test “live reads” by air personalities.

If your product is right for radio, this Phase Two testing will uncover opportunities for success and scalability.  At the very least, your numbers should significantly improve and bring you appreciably closer to your target metrics so that a well-plotted Phase Three gets you across the finish line.

Songwriter Michael McDonald once penned the lyric, “You’ll always have the chance to give up.  So why do it now?”  There is a time to give up – or at least to regroup.  But every test campaign, properly structured and measured, delivers valuable insight and clear paths to profit if you can just shrug off the promise of immediate gratification and roll up your sleeves and do the hard work.

Mark Lipsky is the President and CEO of The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above.Visit our website