Repetition

Promo Sign Showing Promotion Discount Offer AdI think I can. I think I can.

When you first hear a song, you miss a lot. You can't decipher certain words, you don't realize an interesting figure in the bass. Upon repeated listenings, your mind can wander into the song, being more familiar with it and probing deeper into it. Marketing works the same way. The more one is struck by a marketing tactic, the deeper it digs.

Walk into a bakery. The smell will take you to wonderful memories. But if you work in a bakery, by the end of the day, you don't smell the bakery smell anymore. Upon repeated exposure, your mind shuts off any reaction to the stimuli. Marketing works the same way. The more one is struck by a marketing tactic, the less it is noticed.

Somewhere on the bell curve of reaction is the perfect balance - seen enough to be noticed, not enough to be ignored. Red sky sunsets are beautiful. But if our sky were always red and some sunsets grey, grey sunsets would be the standout. How can you be the standout sunset?

Always repeat your message in marketing, be it poster, giveaway, mailing, or whatever. You never know who simple wasn't looking the first time and caught it the next. Repetition ensures notice. Repetition ensures notice.

However, sooner or later, repetition becomes something unwanted. In an email campaign, it is soon spam. A quick run to the references online tells us the word "spam" originally did not mean repeated postings or such. It meant Self Promoting Automated Mailing. However, early pioneers into the illustrious field of internet marketing overused this simple mass mailing device and "self-promotion" rapidly became synonymous to "over-promotion".

Self promotion is fairly expected in this world and not really looked down upon, until one becomes the nuisance who posts to the same bbs the same messages, and then wonders why no one responds, even though that post has been forced to the top of the bbs more times then Ozzy curses in a half hour.

Luckily for you, a lot of people have spent a lot of time and money researching just this kind of thing, so you don't have to figure it out yourself. And due to the fact that I have been forced to learn this stuff for my job, I feel compelled to force it on to you.

Here's a lot of facts and research to take into consideration:

 

Ten.

That's the number of times media can be presented to reach full notice. The first nine times build familiarity, and at the 11th repetition, observers start to declare the media "old". Obviously, this varies widely based on tons of factors, but in the end, let's stick with ten as a target concept which we'll modify as needed.

 

Speed of repetition.

The faster someone is assaulted with a given media, the faster it becomes "old" and un-noticed. A billboard seen once a day becomes old after 10 days. A billboard seen twice a day stales in 8 days. A billboard seen once every month never reaches peak effectiveness. Again, tons of variables apply - a billboard for a free BMW will probably get a wee bit more notice than one for a new bank.

 

Ease of understanding.

If something is complicated - in the specific case of music, asking for more than "Listen to/Buy/Review this" in a single communication, be it mailing, flyer or bbs post - it stales faster as it never gets completely read and understood.

 

Forcing the Fact.

Hawkins and Hoch, two great advertising researchers came up with a very cool fact which kind of explains why urban legends work. Repetition leads to believability. A piece of trivia, true or not, presented repeatedly, is regarded as true. They named this phenomena "The Truth Factor". Hey, they're research guys, no one ever said they were creative. HOWEVER - this CAN be applied. "Please listen to my song" repeated 10 times is a whine. "You should hear my song" 10 times becomes a little voice that makes someone feel they should hear your song. "I think I can" really should be "I know I can". When in doubt, listen to Yoda - "Do or do not. There is no try". Use positive instruction when you can in your announcements, but don't be bossy. Yoda was a great marketer.

 

Account for user-repetition.

You put a big poster outside a bar you'll be playing next month, readable from the street. After how many days will it be most effective for your average person driving by? Less than 10 - realize most people have to go back the way they came and may view the poster twice a day. Trying to catch the weekend crowd only? Ten weeks works fine, since so long passes between repetition, but the daily driver will have long become totally blind to your poster, and its probably covered with graffiti after that long anyway.

PT Barnum had a great poster which read:

TWO LIVE WHALES

TWO LIVE WHALES

TWO LIVE WHALES

TWO LIVE WHALES

TWO LIVE WHALES

It works very well. Repetition, ease of understanding, and it happens to be kind of unique, since who would waste all the space on a poster repeating the same thing five times?

Don't repeat too often. By this I mean, let's say you do a bbs announcement every day for 10 days. Take 10 days off with no announcement. If you talk about a new album for 10 weeks in your newsletter, for 10 weeks DON'T talk about it. This way, when it comes back, it will have regained its freshness. And don't simply change "Play song A" to "Play song B" - you as the messenger of such promotion will soon become ignored. You have to vanish from sight for a while or simply be written off as a spammer.

Throughout this piece I've been saying "Media", "BBS post", "Poster", "Flyer", "E-mail". Also add to that list "Banner ad", "Business card", "Web link", "Free sample", "Commercial", "Print ad".

Now, dig into your wallet past the moths and cobwebs and see which of those venues you can afford to do in repetition while carefully avoiding oversaturation.

Next month we'll discuss repetition.

Discuss this article in our Music Forum.

 

About Paul DeStefano

GeospherePaul DeStefano (aka Geosphere)

I believe my music is the healin' music. I believe my music can make the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf and dumb hear and talk because it inspires and uplifts people. It regenerates the ears, makes the liver quiver, the bladder splatter, and the knees freeze. I'm not conceited, either. ”
Little Richard