Owning a restaurant can be risky business. In fact, some estimates show that 90 percent of new restaurants fail in the first year. To help increase their chances of success, some new restaurant owners hold a “soft launch” a few weeks before the real opening where only a small group of guests are invited to dine. This gives the staff an opportunity to test the menu, the kitchen equipment, and the overall service before officially opening their doors to the public.
Testing is also an important part of annual giving, where programs are challenged each new year to find fresh ways to appeal to prospective donors. There’s a seemingly unlimited number of things you can test, such as the sizes, shapes, and colors of your appeal envelopes or the “teaser” notes that you print on them. You can test signatories for your letters, ask amounts in your phone scripts, images on your websites, or subject lines in your emails. Want to know if offering premiums will resonate with your constituents? Test it.
One of the most important components of a test is the hypothesis. This is simply a statement (a guess, really) about what you think will happen. For example, “I think the red envelope will generate a higher response rate then the white envelope.” Hypotheses are important because they help you focus on the question you’re ultimately trying to answer rather than sitting back and waiting for some data point to stand up and say, “Hey, look at me!” Data points rarely do that.
There’s no need to make it complicated or overly granular. You can also test concepts or ideas simply by rolling them out on a smaller scale. For example, if you’re interested in knowing whether or not crowdfunding might be a way to enhance your annual giving efforts, then try running one or two small crowdfunding campaigns before you make any big decisions. The exercise itself will not only teach you a lot about what it takes to run a crowdfunding campaign, but the outcome may help you determine if it’s worth making additional investments.
Testing first can help you enhance your efforts incrementally without wasting resources unnecessarily or exposing your entire program to ineffective ideas.
Play it safe and smart. Test, don’t guess.
Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Testing Direct Appeals.