Repeat your message seven times

A 7 painted on a brick wall

Photo (CC) by Lincolnian on Flickr

People have to hear your message seven times before they remember it. Or, that’s what I’ve heard.

(You may have heard a different number, but the exact number isn’t important. What is important is to realize you have to repeat yourself. And if you’re in business, you’ll have to repeat yourself a lot.)

Small Business Implications: 

  • Stick with a theme or promotion much longer than you think. Why do you think Absolut Vodka used the same ad campaign (the distinctive bottle shape, and a pun around “Absolut”) for so long?
  • Use multiple media to give the same message. Don’t be afraid to put the same basic information into your Facebook Page update, your Twitter stream, an email, plus a sign on the door at your store.
  • Leave information up for much longer than you think. How long does a sign have to be up before your average customer walks past it seven times? How long does the notice have to be on your website before your average visitor will see it seven times? Could be a long time, eh?
  • Repeat messages many more times than you think necessary. How many times do you have to send your message on Twitter or Facebook before your average follower even sees it once?
  • It’s fine to blog more than once on the same topic. Add something new, update it, or rework it. Thanksgiving comes around every year, and every year we do a new post on our liquor store website with Thanksgiving wine tips. We always find a way to make our advice simpler every year.
  • Extend the same courtesy to your employees. Repeat instructions in more than one way. Provide the same info multiple ways.

How do you use repetition to your advantage in your business?

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. says

    I disagree that a message must be be told seven times to be remembered; that’s old school thinking for average products being sold to average people. Repetition doesn’t endear products to me, in fact it often does the opposite. Comcast comes to mind. They’re everywhere: on the radio, TV, the internet, they send mailers to my house, their vans scour my neighborhood- honestly I feel harassed. I am so turned off by a message I never asked for that on principle alone I’ve vowed to never utilize their services. Somehow I don’t think that’s what they had in mind.

    I don’t think it’s so much the frequency of the message that’s important, but rather the quality of it, and being able to get permission from those who are interested in listening.

  2. says

    Juan, I think the key is that there are all kinds of messages, with all kinds of purposes. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that once isn’t always enough when we are communicating.

  3. Meilee Anderson says

    You never know how or when people may access your message. If I update Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Website, Newsletter, Direct Mail Piece and send an email that’s seven times for the same message but delivered in different ways. Given the difference in platforms I’d be required to present the message in slightly different ways. Seems like a low risk of being perceived as overly repetitive. Do I understand your post correctly? If so, I’m really going to take this post to heart. Thanks Becky.

  4. says

    Meilee, you are right to use as many different media as you can and also to customize the message for each medium. While you don’t have to repeat your message seven times in each medium, it’s still good to repeat it more than once.

    While the number seven isn’t the key point, repeating your messages more than you think necessary is the key. We all get tired of hearing our own message long before our audience is even aware of it.

  5. says

    The “7 times” rule I believe is a basic psychological principle I learned back in college. For every one negative thing said, you need seven positive things said to erase that one negative thought. So, there’s some sort of truth to this :)