By Andrew Neitlich

Rules of thumb are often wrong

By Andrew Neitlich

Be careful about rules of thumb and conventional wisdom in your marketing. While some rules hold up time and time again, some don’t.

For instance: Noboby buys anything between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Not true. I sold more than an average amount of books and services that week.

For instance: A guarantee increases response on websites. Well, this one is tricky. A good guarantee makes it easier for people to buy, because you take away their risk. But with the Internet (vs. traditional direct mail), you really need to test. Maybe 5 people in 3 years and thousands of customers have asked for a refund on my books, where I do offer a rock solid guarantee. But a much higher percentage ask for refunds on some of my other sites (ones that are less about me). There are lots of tire kickers on the Internet, and it is easy to get a free look at something, get your refund, and move on. So I’m testing no guarantee on some sites, and so far, paid response (net returns) is the same and I save myself the trouble of having to issue refunds.

What are other rules of thumb your own marketing has disproven?

  • Mr. B

    Another one that we always thought was set in stone was that you’ll get better returns with a strong gift with purchase. Not always so. We’re testing without the gift and things seem to be looking up. We’re also saving money not having to give out a gift every time someone buys from us.

  • Dr Livingston

    instead of a given full refund by default, you could give the customer a credit line instead; you retain your percentage whilst the customer can come back later, and browse for something else more to their liking.

    there may be those who are after something for free as you suggest, so this weeds those -beep- out.

    if they’re not delighted with a credit line, tough…

  • One rule of thumb that we use is that rules of thumb are generally correct about 80% of the time.

  • hdsol

    A good rule of thumb is to make sure it is out of the way when you swing the hammer :)

  • Sojan80

    Considerign I work at a university and we still have some departments and faculty who are usig computers that are still running Windows 95 the rule of thumb around here is “Don’t like the technology? Wait ten years, it’ll change…”

  • Anonymously

    In the 80’s there was a company selling “special” paint that guaranteed increased productivity. As it turns out, the increased productivity was due to the changing of the paint, not “the” paint. You get better returns if you flip-n-flop, then if you just slíže…

  • jake4974

    “Rules of thumb” are generalizations, meaning they generally work. If it was hard and fast it would likely be just a “Rule”. As a rule of thumb, a rule of thumb is at least a good starting point. I always try to remember “Everything in moderation…including moderation”

  • >>>For instance: Noboby buys anything between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

  • What’s the difference between a “rule of thumb” and a business/sales cliche?

  • semantics

  • ppgear.com

    Another good rule of thumb is to not use phrases that relate to violence against women *hint-hint*.

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