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Answer to “Test Your Direct Response I.Q.”

August 24th, 2005 by Bob Bly

The correct answer is “B,” as reported in “Successful Direct Marketing Methods” by Bob Stone, Sixth Edition, NTC Business Books, 1997, page 203.

“Buy one, get one free” outpulled the other offers by 40%.

There are two lessons contained in this test result.

FIRST, you can never say with absolute certainty what is going to work in direct marketing. The only way to determine the winner is through a test.

SECOND, you can ignore those who tell you “free” is overused, hokey, downscale, or whatever.

Smart marketers continue to use “free” because it WORKS — and for no other reason.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 at 9:17 am and is filed under Direct Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

74 responses about “Answer to “Test Your Direct Response I.Q.””

  1. Matt said:

    Thanks Bob!

    Free does still work. And it creates skepticism. Combine ‘free’ with an honest reason why you are giving something away, and you’ve got a very powerful formula.

  2. Tom McKay said:

    Very interesting exercise, Bob. Thanks for the brain teaser. But what if you’re selling a big-ticket or large-size item — I dunno, maybe a 64-inch plasma TV — and the customer might not actually want two of them?

    I know, I know, one of you readers will take the other one off my hands — thanks! 😉

    Seriously, in that case wouldn’t 50% of be more effective? What do you think?

    Tom McKay
    Better Business Communications

  3. D. KOT said:

    Here in Russia Philips is carriing out a promo action. What they offer is a
    plazma TV as a present (a small one) in case you buy one. The idea seems to
    be the same, though you can’t call this a direct-mail. So far it is known
    whether the action is effective or not, but it is a fact. You get one free
    (as a present) and not a 50% discount.

  4. Richard Leader said:

    I think it’s dangerous to make conclusions from one promotion; what was the product? who was the target market?
    It would be interesting to look at such a test in – say – the B2B market and see what worked best there…

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Richard: I agree you can’t formulate a rule based on a single test to a single market. On the other hand, 25 years of testing have led me to conclude that FREE works equally well in both b-2-b and b-2-c marketing.

  6. Robert B. McNeill said:

    The appeal of FREE: It’s the old ’emotion over logic’ lesson again, isn’t it? Even if reason should dictate otherwise, none of us is immune to the idea of getting something for nothing.

  7. Sean D\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Souza said:

    There’s a reason why it works. I’ve covered it extensively in an article. I’m not so sure, it’s the FREE part, but rather the factor of the tip over; the bonus factor.

    Of course, you’re free (oops, there goes the word again) to disagree with me.

    But read the article too. It might be illuminating

  8. Wendy Meyeroff said:

    I’m not sure it’s just the word FREE, though as we all know it’s a great motivator. I think it’s just important that it’s easier to figure out your return in a one-to-one ratio. Too many people have such bad math skills that they’re not sure how much 50% percent or half off will give them. And even if they are, it may not sound like such a deal. I’d rather go to Payless shoe stores for 1 free pair of shoes with each one I buy, rather than getting 1/2 off on the second pair.

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