Repeating repetition repeatedly isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Many people have a strong aversion to repetition. It isn’t that they can’t tolerate others repeating a message; it’s that they don’t want to risk echoing their previous efforts when developing their marketing communications materials.

The concern about repetition crops up most often in planning for ongoing marketing programs, such as social media or customer newsletters. There’s a belief that everyone hangs on every word we say and commits it to memory, and that they’ll immediately recognize any repetition on our part. Even worse, we’re convinced that the reader will react to that repetition with revulsion and anger. “How dare they talk about the importance of starting with a budget? They mentioned that three months ago!”

However, repetition is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very powerful tool. Why?

First, no prospect, customer, or client will pay attention to what you say as closely as you do. I mean no slight to your corporate (or personal) ego, but it’s a simple fact. You and your team may have spent an hour tweaking and twisting that particular sentence to get it just right; your reader skimmed over it in a few nanoseconds. They didn’t take the time to analyze the word choices or consider the quiet subtleties you so carefully added. They came away with a general impression of what you said, and that’s it. Frankly, that’s the best you can hope for.

Second, your prospects, customers, and clients will remember only a small amount of what they learn today, and it’s a safe bet that your message will not be among them, no matter how important it may be to you and your organization.

Third, your prospects, customers, and clients encounter literally thousands of pieces of information every day. From TV commercials, to billboards, to news stories, to social media posts about cats that want cheeseburgers, they are simply inundated with information. Your message may be one in 10,000 their eyes see today. Even if it stood out, it may be among 100 other standouts.

Finally, most people must see your message many times — perhaps dozens — before it takes root in their minds and affects their behavior. That’s why successful advertisers have long understood the value of frequency. With rare exceptions (such as the overpriced and overhyped Super Bowl ads nobody remembers three days later), they run their ads again and again.

Given those realities, spewing all sorts of different information at your target audience is going to be far less effective than repeatedly targeting them with the same message or two. If you have 100 opportunities to connect with your prospects this year, rather than sending 100 different messages one time each, sending one message 100 times will dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll break through the clutter and implant that message in your audience’s mind.

Besides, if the message you presented the first time is correct, does it become any less correct in the retelling? Most likely, no.

Beyond improving the chances that your audience will remember what you have to say, repetition also reinforces the validity of your position. When you make the same statement again and again, those words appear to be part of your philosophy. People realize that your message isn’t an off-the-cuff remark, but something that you share because you believe it. That kind of consistency builds confidence.

If you’re still hesitant to repeat yourself and feel a strong need to change your messages from time to time, be careful that you make those decisions based on your audience’s point of view instead of your own.