In Advertising, More Frequency = More Effectiveness

May 2017

Source: Audi 2017 Super Bowl commercial image

“Oh, not that ad again!” The repetitiveness of advertising is never more apparent than during a televised Super Bowl game. The eagerly anticipated Super Bowl commercials, at first blush, are seen as novel. By the time the same commercial has been countlessly aired over the ensuing months, the audience may feel annoyed, or, if all goes according to plan and science, captured by the advertiser’s message and ready to make a purchase.

Rule of Seven

Marketers differ on the number of effective frequency interactions required to build trust with a prospect. The still-popular Rule of Seven was formulated in the late 1950s, and stated that contact was required seven times in an 18-month period for prospects to remember you. As far back as 1885, Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising, which outlined 20 reader responses to ads ranging from a viewer initially not noticing an ad to eventually making a purchase. Today, self-educating consumers absorb information online and demand valuable and authentic content that stands out from a crowded field. Marketers need to be prepared to meet these demands by creating a barrage of “touchpoints” in varying formats, such as articles, blog posts, case studies, eBooks, social media, web content, white papers and more.

A former professor taught me that if you repeated a message frequently, it would appear more truthful each time it was stated. If I continually tell you that Twirling Tiger Media is your best option for content creation, you will eventually believe me because the statement’s repetition creates familiarity, and the developing familiarity breeds trust. Repeated exposure to an opinion makes people believe the opinion is more prevalent, even if the source of that opinion is only a single person. An audience remembers a statement that gets repeated, so they are more likely to believe it, and think it is a widely accepted popular opinion. (I think marketers and politicians have this one figured out!)

Examples of strong messaging

Messages that resonate with an audience on an emotional level are most effective. The messages listed (below) are an extreme version of effective frequency. These campaigns saturated the national consciousness for many years and effectively ingrained an association with their brands.

“Just Do It!”

“The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, fever so you can get rest medicine.”
(Vicks Nyquil)

“15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.”

“Good to the last drop.”
(Maxwell House)

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

“The few, the proud, the Marines.”
(U.S. Marine Corps)

Here are tips for developing and conveying a memorable and effective marketing message:

  • Create a strong message, and then spread it across all mediums to build awareness and trust.
  • When broadcasting your message, adhere to your established brand—how it looks, sounds, thinks, performs and—ultimately—is.
  • Tailor your message to audience segments for better outcomes. (Maybe some aspects of your goods and services would appeal to one segment of your audience as opposed to another.)
  • With a solid message, commit the time required to convey your message (sometimes years) and stick with it…even in the face of new staff that may want to refresh it.

Ads that air during high-profile televised live events include marketing strategies that expand brand exposure through social strategies intended to encourage a prospect’s interaction with products that interested them. This online engagement provides marketers with incremental new business and an opportunity to collect viewer data in hopes of winning the big game—attracting, acquiring and engaging a target audience to drive profitable action.


A version of this appeared in the February issue of Reword, our monthly e-newsletter. Sign up and join hundreds of others receiving useful content marketing and business advice in their inbox on the 15th of each month.