I don’t know – maybe I shouldn’t be complaining – but I’ve never understood why businesses spend so much time and money creating brand new marketing campaigns instead of just tweaking their existing campaigns.

I know we all love spanking new creative. It’s fun. It’s fresh. It’s a nice break from the day to day stuff. And it certainly helps to ring your agency’s cash register.

But my biggest problem is you don’t learn very much from it.

Even if it produces double-digit response rates, what was it that produced those results? Can you isolate any one factor that was the major contributor to this success?

Probably not. In fact, there might have been many factors.

With each new campaign, it seems like you are starting from scratch.

But if instead you decide to tweak an existing campaign, you are working from a known quantity. You know what the response rate was – so now your job is to find ways to improve on that response rate.

A new list perhaps … a new offer … a new headline or teaser copy … a new reply card … new positioning in the copy … the addition of a photo … a different size envelope … increased personalization …

I could go on – because there are many, many ways to tweak your marketing campaigns.

When working with clients, I often help identify (and prioritize) those tweaking opportunities.

One of the goals is to determine which tweak is likely to produce the greatest impact – the biggest jump in response.

In most cases, this involves a change in the mailing list or the offer. By testing a new list or a new offer – without any other changes in your program – you could very likely see a dramatic change in results.

I understand the temptation to make major changes – especially if everything you’ve done so far has been unsuccessful.

But the best strategy isn’t to keep starting over; it’s to work with what you have and build upon what you know.


Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."