“We already did that”

Like average Americans, you’re exposed to thousands of marketing messages each day, from TV commercials to billboards to slogans on fast-food drink cups. How many of the ones you saw yesterday do you remember? Probably just a couple – maybe a few if you really strain your memory.

So why do so many companies and organizations believe their audiences somehow remember each of their marketing messages in excruciating detail? When they have an opportunity to communicate again, they assume that only something fresh and new is appropriate.

Nobody is going to remember what you did yesterday, much less than last year. Since they last saw your message, they’ve been exposed thousands of others, some of which are bound to have been more compelling and memorable. A snippet of your message may be lurking at the subconscious level, but that’s more likely to be an impression of your company than a marketing tactic.

Perhaps they’ll remember “that seems like a friendly hardware store,” but they’re not likely to summon up “that hardware store has a 20 percent off sale on wrenches.” Don’t despair, because you left them with a positive impression.

If you want messages to stick, you need to repeat them again and again. If you don’t believe me, look at any multimillion-dollar advertiser. They run the same TV commercials again and again because they know seeing them just once probably won’t motivate you. In fact, an old rule of thumb says you’ll only notice a message one time in three, and you have to notice it at least nine times before you’ll take an action. Do the math, and you’ll arrive at a need to run that message 27 times – and that’s only when you’re sure they’re watching!