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!


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