If you’ve ever invested time or money into your marketing, then you know that there’s a lot of risk involved. And in today’s article, I’m going to give you one of my favorite tips for minimizing marketing risk.

But first, a quick story to set the stage…

At a marketing conference many years ago, I attended a workshop by David Bullock and Jerry West about how to create a profitable Google AdWords campaign from scratch. That’s where I first heard of the concept of congruence in advertising. But I also learned another, equally important concept that day:

“Get out of your office and talk to real people in the real world. It’s not only good for your health, it’s great for your marketing.”

Back to the story…

David and Jerry were building a Google AdWords campaign to sell a woman’s skin cream, as an affiliate (which means that if a website visitor purchased the product based on their recommendation, David and Jerry would earn a commission on the sale). The workshop presentation was a case study of their ability to create a brand new campaign from scratch and generate a profit on their ads.

The catch? They were creating an ad campaign in a market they’ve never competed in before, and knew nothing about.

David and Jerry aren’t women’s skin cream customers. They had no prior experience selling skin cream.  They were at a competitive disadvantage in the market — they were basically clueless going into the test. And yet, they still managed to create a successful campaign.

How did they do it?

They entered the real world and talked to representative customers — women shopping at the cosmetics counter at a department store. They surveyed women and asked what they were looking for in a beauty cream.

As a result, David and Jerry gained confidence that the product they were promoting could be a winner — it had many of the attributes that real women were looking for. Most importantly, they now know how to correctly position the product so it would sell. Specifically, David and Jerry took notice of the exact words and expressions that many women in the department store used — and they “mirrored” those phrases back to website visitors in their Google ads and landing page copy.

By speaking to representative customers in the real world, David and Jerry were able to create a connection between their market and their advertising messages. And in order for your marketing to be effective, you need to connect. There needs to be a “click” between what people want and what you have to offer. Dan Kennedy calls this message-to-market match. This concept probably sounds obvious, but it’s so incredibly important. Without a strong match, your marketing messages will fail.

When you’re struggling to get your marketing to connect, it can feel like you’re playing darts with a blindfold on. You’re trying to hit the target, but you don’t really know where it is… and as a result, it feels like you’re just gambling with your time and money. One of the best ways to remove the blindfold and minimize your risk is to get out into the real world, talk with real people, and listen to what they have to say.

Here are 3 ways to use “real world” interactions to improve the performance of your marketing messages.

1. Go on a Field Trip

You can copy David and Jerry’s example, and go on a field trip to survey some potential customers in person. And by “survey,” I don’t necessarily mean having people write down responses in written format. If I remember correctly, David and Jerry recorded conversations with people, and then got them transcribed. And I believe that they provided participants with some kind of gift (cash or gift certificate) for their time.

2. Pay Close Attention When Networking

Networking can be another good way to find your message-to-market match. And this tip is especially important if you are not in a business with regular 1-on-1 sales conversations with prospects. Go to networking events where representative customers may be present. As you’re speaking with people, people will naturally ask you what you do. When you reply, pay attention to the responses you get, and experiment with different answers. When you give a particular response, do people’s eyes glaze over, or are you keeping their attention?

3. Record and “Clone” Your Sales Pitch

Here’s a tip I learned from Gary Halbert. If you regularly have 1-on-1 sales conversations, then — with their permission — record your sales calls or presentations, and then get them transcribed. Pay attention to the order and sequence of your presentation.  Also, pay attention to the objections that your prospect raises, and how you answer them.  Review your successful presentations, and see what the commonalities are. Then, use this language as the basis for your marketing and advertising messages.

How will you know when you’ve found your message-to-market match? It’ll be obvious. You’ll instantly see stronger response rates to your advertising and marketing, and you’ll start attracting more customers than ever!  When you’re testing different appeals and messages in the market, it’s not uncommon to have one message “out-pull” another by a factor of 2X or more. So get out there into the real world and start hunting for your message-to-market match!