Split test marketing and the teenage mind

Split test marketing is a method used for figuring out what messages resonate the strongest with your clientele. It can be used to test everything from website copy to emails, creating ads, or anything else that is designed to grab people's attention.

Think of it as a randomized experiment in which the basic content is the same, but the subject line, headline, or graphics have been altered to resonate with a different audience. Before you poo poo this, trust me, it makes a difference.

Last Spring I wrote an e-zine entitled An Open Letter to My Son's Band Director in which my response rate shot through the roof. NAILED IT! Feeling quite proud and thinking myself to be somewhat of a "Hemingway-esque" writer, I mentioned my triumph to a buddy who snarkily remarked, "You do realize that the subject line made everyone think it was a letter from a parent... Right?"

It turns out I'm NOT Hemingway and that subject lines DO matter! If only I was purposeful and split tested all of my subject lines, maybe my readership would be more than my mother and my golden retriever. DOH!

Split test marketing helps us better understand what people respond to. In the case of this blog, it does not matter what I write if you are unwilling to read it. Similarly, it does not matter what we teach if the student is either unwilling or unengaged. In other words, the HOW we teach can be just as important as the WHAT we teach. So how do we assess the "how" of teaching? Split test marketing, of course! Try and experiment with the following things:

  • Teach the same thing in the morning and again in the afternoon. Is it different?
  • Teach the same thing on a Monday and again on Wednesday. Is it the same?
  • Play a chorale twice, once with the lights off. What is the difference?
  • Play a fast piece at the beginning and end of the same class. Which is better?
  • Change the classroom setup and see how it affects rehearsal intensity?
  • Give the same instruction to a freshman and a senior. Is the result the same?
  • Do students behave differently if you dress more formally (tie/skirt)?
  • How do boys respond differently than girls in different leadership roles?

The variables are as infinite as the results, as every child learns differently. So does every ensemble. Jazz band learns differently than marching band. Freshman learn differently than seniors. Orchestra learns differently than band. Students of Smith High School learn differently than the students of Jones High School. The question is, do you alter your teaching "style" to match the students, ensemble, or school? It's not enough to know WHAT to teach, we have to know HOW to teach our students.

This is where the "art" of teaching comes in. This is the part the pundits and politicians don't see. This is where teaching becomes learning!

For fun and amusement, next week, I will write two different e-zines to find out what resonates the best. Choose one of the two buttons below to determine which e-zine you want to receive. If you don't choose a button, I will choose for you! This should be interesting.

Until the next time, have a great week!