Don’t tell anyone we told you, but our very own Steve Cuno wrote the byline-less Leader Column in the new issue of Deliver: A Magazine for Marketers. You can download the magazine by clicking here.
Remember to Test
Leader Column by Steve Cuno
Most of us possess sufficient social grace not to publicly say, “I’m smarter than the rest of you.” But that doesn’t necessarily keep us from thinking we are. Research shows that most people really believe themselves to be smarter than the average.
Come on, it’s OK to admit it. At least some of the time, at least some of you think just that. We’ll even admit that, at least some of the time, so do at least some of us here at Deliver®. To deny it is to deny being human.
While we need hardly point out that everyone’s being smarter than the average presents a mathematical impossibility, what we would like to point out is the danger of giving in to such thinking when it comes to making crucial marketing decisions.
Yet in celebrating people who defy the odds and win, we risk overlooking an implicit, sobering reality. Odds refers to most-likely outcomes. People who defy odds and win may not be models to emulate so much as exceptions to congratulate on their good fortune. Exceptions do not change the fact that from a statistical standpoint it is safer to bet with the odds than against them. That is, after all, how odds get to be odds.
Which calls to mind another rallying cry, this one popular among direct marketers: “Test, test, test.” It is born of the lesson driven home each time a valid test produces results that are opposite from what the best minds expected. In those moments, marketers thank their lucky stars that they took the time and trouble to test instead of betting—and losing—the farm on their (allegedly) superior smarts and intuition.
If you are ever tempted to say, “Testing shmesting, I’m going with my gut on this one,” here is a word of advice: Test.
Good news: the oldest medium for reliable, real-world testing is as powerful as ever. We refer, of course, to the U.S. Mail. (For a Deliver magazine refresher on testing, click here.)