Choosing Your Top Three Messages with TURF
Last week we wrote about the optimal number of benefits, features, or claims you should make in your marketing materials. Research shows that three maximizes the impact because it aligns with a buyer’s sense of data sufficiency. Going beyond three invites skepticism because it reminds buyers that the message is “just marketing,” not information.
So how do you pick the top three messages? You could test each one and use the three that test best—the ones rated highest on importance or persuasiveness. But there is a smarter way. Use TURF analysis to select an optimal combination of messages.
TURF is an acronym for Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency. The idea behind it is that, sure, you want to offer the best messages. But the best messages may differ among key segments in your audience and you want to pick the three that broaden your reach into as many segments as possible.
Ice cream flavors are often used as an example to illustrate the importance of TURF analysis. Suppose 60% of your customers love chocolate, and those same customers love vanilla, too. The other 40% love mint chip, but dislike both chocolate and vanilla. If you could offer just two flavors in your shop, it would be foolish to offer the two most popular flavors. Only 60% of your customers will be happy. Instead you should offer one most popular flavor plus mint chip. That way all your customers will find something they love.
TURF analysis involves calculating the potential reach of all possible combinations of messages. Which three messages will maximize the number of customers who see their favorite message? Or which three messages will maximize the number of customers who see at least one of their top three, or top five? You can decide how many messages you want to optimize, and try out different definitions of what it means to optimize.
Conjoint analysis is another approach to analyzing and optimizing combinations of messages, and could be used when you have multiple categories of messages and you want to figure out how to combine them in “synergistic” ways. It’s a topic worthy of its own future article, so stay tuned. If you’re curious about conjoint analysis in the meantime, take a look at our in-depth article The ABC’s of CBC: Understanding Conjoint for Market Research.