Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ETR: Experiment

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Wednesday September 15, 2010

"There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes."

R. Buckminster Fuller

The Test of All Knowledge Is Experiment
By Glenn Fisher

Most marketing people will tell you that the key to any successful marketing campaign is "testing."

True. But there's a little more to it...

And to explain, I'm going to enlist the help of a theoretical physicist.


Believe it or not, successful marketing shares much with a fundamental scientific principle. Namely: "The test of all knowledge is experiment."

That's one of the main points theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman makes in his Lectures on Physics.

I admit, that sounds like a stretch. But bear with me...

Let's say you've produced a book on a new weight loss method for men.

Now you need to sell it...

So you write a sales promotion.

Question is, how do you pitch the book?

Do you try to scare men into buying it? ("If you don't read this book, you'll get fatter.")

Or do you use hope? ("If you read this book, you'll get thinner.")

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Which is the better angle?

This brings us to Feynman's principle: "The test of all knowledge is experiment."

So you experiment. You test both angles and see which one works best.

Meanwhile, Feynman cautions that "experiment itself" only "helps" us come to a conclusion "in the sense that it gives us hints."

Okay. So let's say the fear angle comes out on top in your test. This gives you a big hint that men are fearful of putting on weight.

What we need now, says Feynman is "imagination to create from these hints the great generalizations -- to guess at the wonderful, simple, but very strange patterns beneath... and then to experiment to check again whether we have made the right guess."

So you have a hint: Men are fearful of putting on weight. Now you must use your imagination. You must go deeper. Why are men fearful of putting on weight?

Could it be because they will think themselves less attractive to women? If so, a good guess would be that a better way to sell your book on weight loss might be to aim it at helping men attract women...

And another guess... If it's true that women don't like men who are overweight, maybe you should aim your promotion at women who want their men to lose weight. ("Is your man getting a little too wide round the middle? This book will help make him thin!")

To check the validity of these assumptions, you test them both.

For the sake of argument, let's say you find that your book on men's weight loss sells best to women.

This is a brand-new idea for you -- one that is sure to increase your profitability. And without experimenting, imagining, and testing, you might never have discovered it.

Think of it as a 3-stage process: An initial experiment provides fuel for the imagining stage, which provides ideas for testing, the results of which may give new reasons for experimentation.

Whatever business you are in, this is the way you should approach your marketing...

1. First do your initial experiment. See what happens.

2. Then go through the imagining stage. What bigger ideas do the results of your initial experiment hint at?

3. Develop and test those ideas to see if your guesses were right...

You'll be amazed at the new marketing approaches you discover.

[Ed. Note: After studying business, economics, politics, and creative writing -- and working for many years in local government -- Glenn Fisher joined Shortcut Publications as the editor of their flagship publications, Shortcut Bulletin and Shortcut Confidential. Glenn has developed a loyal following by helping and inspiring his readers to achieve personal and financial freedom. To receive Glenn's free, daily e-letter, go here.

And for more help with your marketing experiments, come to ETR's biggest event of the year, our Info-Marketing Bootcamp. Glenn Fisher and the team from Shortcut Publications come every year. And they're joined by hundreds of industry experts, Early to Rise readers, and small-business owners eager to learn the next steps they should take to get their online ventures booming. Find out all about Bootcamp here.]

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Today's Words That Work: Stonewall

To stonewall -- a word borrowed from the game of cricket -- is to intentionally obstruct, block, or hinder.

Example (as used by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker): "Witness the popularity [on YouTube] of... Dave Carroll, whose guitar was broken by careless United Airlines luggage handlers and who wrote a song slamming uninterested flight attendants and stonewalling customer-service reps."


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