Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ask and Answer - A Tale of Two Oranges

Two Oranges by Carolyn Texera

Sometimes it isn't a question of apples and oranges, but a question of two different flavors of oranges.

The small nonprofit where I'm currently contracting couldn't decide whether the solicitation letter they were sending out should have the ask upfront or in the middle.

The way I wrote the initial letter, the ask was upfront, since my experience has been that business people hate communications that don't quickly communicate what they're about.

One of the terrific ladies I'm working with slightly changed the order of the paragraphs so that the ask was in the middle. Her reasoning was that the middle position made for a better tie-in to the heart of the proposal.

After I and the Marketing Director read the changed letter, we didn't entirely disagree, although we felt the same about telling the reader what the letter was about as quickly as possible. My colleague then added a 'soft' ask at the beginning of the letter, which seemed to answer our concerns. Only none of us were sure which version might have the edge over the other.

So we're sending out both versions - half to one group and half to another - to see which letter might get the better response.

Experimentation doesn't always have to be about big differences - between apples and oranges  - it can be as subtle as the difference between a Valencia and a Clementine.

Have you ever experimented at a more nuanced level? If so, what was the result?

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