An experienced business coach or adviser may use the phrase “test and measure” as an answer for the questions you ask.
For example when you ask them ‘what new product should you develop’, they say you need to ‘test your market and measure the response’. When you ask ‘how do I get more customers’, they say you need to ‘test your offers and measure your conversion rate’.
But what’s so great about ‘testing and measuring”? And why should I be paying attention?
Let’s start by answering the question – What is Testing and Measuring?
What is Testing?
We don’t realize it but unconsciously, we are testing everything in our daily lives all the time.
When buying new shoes or clothes you try them on first before you make a decision. You take a sip of a warm drink to test the temperature before you drink it. You read the back cover of a book to work out if it’s something you’ll enjoy reading. You check the weather forecast before choosing what to wear or whether to take an umbrella. The daily routine of testing shows up in practically everything you do, when you begin to look for it.
Testing is something we do all the time… we just don’t think about it as testing.
Yet some businesses will continually spend large amounts of money on expensive marketing campaigns without a thought given to testing. Or if they do think about testing they’ll look at the results from the first campaign and based only on these will continue to spend thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign and assume that every’s OK.
Doing this, is like going into a shop, trying on a few pairs of jeans, finding the ones that are perfect for you and then for the rest of your life buying only these jeans (the same size, colour, style, etc). That would be pretty odd behaviour – it certainly doesn’t take into account any changes in fashion trends.
When you’re testing in your everyday life, you don’t stick to just testing once, you do it over and over again. Every time you have a hot drink or food you check the temperature to avoid burning yourself, just like you check the weather forecast regularly.
Testing in your business is the same. Whether you’re testing a new product idea or an offer in a marketing campaign, it’s about making a start and then testing again and again with decisions and improvements in between.
For example, I firmly believe in testing any new advertising or marketing campaign before the majority of your budget is committed. I suggest committing 10 – 15% of the new campaign budget and test to make sure you’re getting the outcomes you want.
Though, there’s little point in going to the trouble of testing in the first place unless you follow through with some type of analysis of the results.
What is Measuring?
Imagine taking a new car out for a test drive and paying no attention whatsoever to the quality of the ride, the noise levels, how confident you feel driving it and the engine performance.
In fact, you would instantly, maybe without realising it, compare this new car to your old one (or other new cars you may have gone for a test drive in). You would have your own form of measurement to compare this car with others.
There are so many other ways in which you are already measuring the world around you. For example, taste is a form of measurement – when you take your first bite of food or sip of a drink you are making an assessment about how good it is; you’re measuring to see how much you like or don’t like it; it’s temperature, it’s texture, it’s flavour, etc. That’s just one example. Think about your own daily routine and you’ll realise that you’re measuring things all the time (when you compare outside daylight to the light in a room before deciding whether or not to switch on a light, when you check the time and the caller ID of an incoming call before deciding if you’ll answer, when you’re in peak hour traffic and comparing how fast your lane is moving compared to the next one over).
Just as in your everyday activities, there’s no point in testing if no measurement or assessment is going to be made about an outcome you want for your business.
Careful measurement and analysis of the results you get in any area of your business is a must if you want to be making the best decisions. Whether you’re measuring the results of an advertising campaign, the productivity of your employees or your cash flow cycle. The results you get when you measure will help you quantify the success your getting and point out where you’ve got room for improvement.
As any responsible Business Coach will tell you, the key to success – test and measure.
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Here are 3 areas in your business where you can get started with testing and measuring
1. What You Sell
If you don’t know what products or services to sell, then ‘test the market’ and ‘measure the results’. Ask your existing customers what they want, how much they’d pay and if you had one right now at the price they’ve suggested would they’d buy it?
2. Where to Cut Costs
If you can’t decide where is best to cut or minimise costs in your business, test by making a few small cuts, measure the impact they have in your financials, customer service feedback, product or service quality, etc.
3. Where You Advertise
If you don’t know where to spend your advertising and marketing budget, test with a small scale campaign and measure the responsiveness you get for the campaign.
You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong, just like you can succeed if you don’t know which things you’re doing are creating success. It’s only by testing and measuring that you can gain the certainty needed to make the right decisions that grow your business.