Successful Advertising Depends on Frequency

April 11th, 2016 by

It’s no secret that successful advertising depends on frequency. Otherwise, how are you ever going to be able to cut through the clutter?

We all know that repetition counts….but how often does someone need to see a message before they buy? I get asked this question a lot.

In 1885, a London businessman names Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising which dealt with the effective frequency of advertising . I think his insight was brilliant and absolutely answers the question on frequency.

Reimagine this parable from 1885, considering today’s abundance of marketing channels

  • The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
  • The second time, they don’t notice it.
  • The third time, they are aware that it is there.
  • The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
  • The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
  • The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
  • The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
  • The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
  • The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
  • The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
  • The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
  • The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
  • The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
  • The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
  • The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
  • The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
  • The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
  • The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
  • The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
  • The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

Now, just think of where we are in the 21st century. We have learned so much about successful advertising techniques.  Through response testing, we know that successful advertising depends on message, channel and offer.