Testing a New Marketing Idea is like Making Pizza

I have never made homemade pizza before, so when my friend told me this weekend about the great homemade pizza he made, I knew I had to try my hand at making my own. As I reflect back on the process I went through to make the pizza, many of the same principles can be applied to launching a new marketing initiative.

Principle #1: Foundational Best Practices - Get Some Advice from Someone Who Has Been Successful

The first thing I needed to do to get started on my pizza was make some pizza dough. So, I called my friend who had recently made a pizza and I asked him for the recipe for making the dough. I followed his instructions closely because I knew that the foundation of a great pizza is a great pizza crust. I also knew that I had no experience making crust, and so it was easy to seek out help for this part of the project. Here are his instructions to me:

The same is true when launching a new marketing initiative. Talk to others that have been successful and find out what they did. Don't be ashamed to admit that you don't know how to get started. Follow best practices-- especially for foundational elements.

Principle #2: Customize and Improvise - Add In What You Know Works

I'm originally from Pittsburgh, PA. My favorite pizza is made at a place called Mmm... Mmm... Pizza. They make a Barbecue Chicken Pizza that is out this world. Eating it enough times, I have learned what ingredients they use to make it awesome: barbecue chicken, green peppers, onions, K.C. Masterpiece Barbecue sauce, and french fries. So, I did my best to customize my pizza with toppings that I knew would make the pizza awesome, and along the way, I introduced some elements that were new. For instance, I sautéed the peppers and onions on the grill before adding them to the pizza.

Again, the same principles can be applied to your marketing program. Add in elements that you have learned to be effective with your target audience. Don't be afraid to improvise and improve upon certain elements. Use elements that worked on you.
Principle #3: Test With Those You Know and Trust

My pizza was complete and now it was time for the ultimate test. But I didn't throw a party and invite all of my neighbors-- I served up the "beta pizza" to my family. I knew that I could depend on my family to give me feedback that I could act on. And since my goal was to make the perfect pizza, I was realistic enough to know that this first go would not be perfect. And so, when my wife said that the crust was a little over done, I knew that next time I needed to take it off the grill earlier. Below is a picture of my Barbecue Pizza, version 1.0:

Same is true when testing a new marketing idea. Start off by testing with a segment of your audience that you know is engaged and will give you actionable feedback. For instance, if you are testing an email campaign, send to a segment of your file that has a history of high engagement (open rates and clickthrough rates) and a history of response. The feedback that you get (opens, clicks, and responses) can be benchmarked against past campaigns and will give you the information that you need to tweak the program before you roll it out on a larger scale.

Obviously, there is more to successful pizza and successful marketing than what I've shared here. But the next time you are thinking of testing out a new idea, think of my barbecue chicken pizza and try to follow these principles. If that doesn't work, call Domino's-- they deliver!


The Secret to Social Marketing: A How-to Video

This short video illustrates the secrets to successful social marketing:

  • First, you need to step out of your comfort zone and start posting some interesting, original content
  • Don't get discouraged, be brave and keep posting
  • When you attract your first follower, welcome him warmly-- try to get him to emulate your content and improvise
  • Now, there are two of you creating interesting, original content
  • That first follower is very important because he waves the others on; he tells them "It's alright. Come and join us!"
  • Then you get your next follower-- and three is a crowd!
  • Then, come in two more followers
  • ...and immediately three more
  • Then, people start following in droves
  • Congratulations! You have a network of enthusiastic followers-- you are now a successful social marketer!


Marketing vs. IT—the Epic Battle for your Web Site

Who is running your web site—Marketing or IT?

How you answer that question will usually predict how successful your organization is at moving the needle in the four essential fundraising functions:

• Acquiring names
• Converting donors
• Raising dollars
• Communicating impact

Marketing people think about their intended target audience—the visitor, constituent, donor—and that helps to shape how they approach every aspect of the web site. Marketers care most about what happens on the other side of the screen when real people have to interact with content and complete tasks. A marketer takes a constituent-centered approach to the web.

IT on the other hand, is most concerned about what impact the web will have on operations. IT will always operate from a perspective that ensures that back-end processes are most efficient, that data collected is complete, and that data processing requires as little human resources as possible. An IT person takes a very organizational-focused approach to the web.

If the goal of your web site is to build and maintain relationships with constituents, engage them in your mission, and inspire them to get involved, then your web site needs to be very constituent-focused. People are smart—especially online people. If your web site is very organizational-focused, they will recognize it immediately and will stiffen up their defensive instincts. But when you design your web site with the intention of meeting the needs of those most important to your organization—your constituents and donors—you will find that they will thank you by completing more conversion goals.

Not Sure Who is Running Your Web Site? Consider the Following Questions:

  1. Do ideas drive online programs, or are programs a function of technical limitations?
  2. Have you been told, “we can’t launch this new program because it won’t easily integrate with our donor management system?"
  3. Do your donors have to jump through a series of hoops in order to make a donation?
  4. Have you missed out on potential fundraising opportunities because of technology issues?