The Rule of Seven

How often should you repeat a message in print, digital or spoken media?

How frequently should you repeat a message to reach and activate your audience?

According to an American Express blog, research shows that in advertising it takes three to seven times before a message registers. After seven, and the message becomes dull.

On the other hand, The Financial Brand argues that repeating a message three times will work while Microsoft suggests that between six and 20 times.

Our advice is repeating your message is a good thing!

This week we ran a media training workshop where we helped a client drill down from ten key messages to three and then worked with them on ways to keep their message fresh.

“I am getting bored with this,” said the Chief Executive.

We assured her that while she may be bored, the listener won’t be paying as much attention as you think they are.

And so we went back to 1885 when Thomas Smith wrote in his Successful Advertising guide:

Back to 1885

The 1st time people look at an ad, they don’t see it.

The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.

The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.

The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.

The 5th time, they actually read the ad.

The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.

The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.

The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”

The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.

The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.

The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.

The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.

The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.

The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.

The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.

The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.

The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.

The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.

The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.

The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.

The 21st Century

So what has changed? Nothing.

For non-profits, the most powerful media training tip we can give you is make sure you have compelling messages and repeat them as often as possible – and at least seven times.

What you lack in advertising dollars, you will make up for with constant repeating of messages.