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Testing Secrets That Make Millions - Old Master Series

Published by: David Garfinkel on 04-05-2021

Today’s show is a new chapter in our Old Masters Series, with wisdom from someone who people I know knew and knew about. Brian Kurtz wrote an intro to this Old Master’s book, and Denny Hatch raved about the book in his newsletter, which was called “Who’s Mailing What.”

Now one of the great things about the kind of copywriting we cover on this podcast is that, unlike with a lot of other forms of advertising, with direct response copywriting you can measure sales results.

You can’t do that accurately with a billboard or a Superbowl ad.

As direct marketers, we determine our results through testing. And the dean of testing is not as well known as famous copywriters of his era, like Gene Schwartz and David Ogilvy – but he was just as important.

His name was Dick Benson, and we’re going to cover some of his best testing secrets.

He wrote an excellent book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail. But lucky for you, I also had access to something I call The Private Direct Marketing Archive adjacent to Lincoln Center in New York City, also known as the PDFMAALC/NYC. Others like myself who have had the privilege to visit this valuable resource in person also know it as Don Hauptman’s extensive, custom-built filing system in the West 60s. Nice!

Don raided the archive for me in a systematic, organized way and Fedexed about 10 articles and photocopy sets, ranging from the 1996 obituary for Benson in the New York Times to a three-page spread in the broadsheet trade newspaper Direct. Special to Copywriters Podcast. Lots of information you won’t find in the book, or nearly anywhere else, but, of course, you’ll get the best of it here on the show.

From all of this research — one book, and 10 supplementary pieces — I pulled out seven tips and rules on testing, each of which can make you extra money.

Benson worked with many large publishers and even founded the first direct-marketing ad agency, in 1961. He was widely regarded as the authority on testing for decades.

Now, at this point, you could easily say,

“I don’t do direct mail. Postage stamps, commercial printers and mail carriers have nothing to do with my marketing.”

or, you could say,

“There’s a tremendous amount of high-value, battle-tested science accumulated from direct mail testing. I wonder what I could learn from it in 2021 that would supercharge my own online marketing.”

Yes, you could say that. And it is from that point of view that we looked at the seven brilliant discoveries of Dick Benson.

Dick Benson’s book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail

Keywords: split testing copywriting

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