The Science of Marketing: How The Power Of Repetition Can Influence Your Customers

by The Salmat Team
16 October 2016
Marketing is a combination of art and science. You need creative ideas, of course, but the true key to great marketing is understanding why people act the way they do; what’s going on in their hearts and minds to make them choose Brand X over Brand Y.

Unless you understand how people operate, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to create marketing campaigns that will resonate with your audience and compel them to act.

But while some principles of psychology require lots of research and study, there’s one key principle that you can start applying today: repetition.

A powerful tool of persuasion

Repetition is one of the easiest methods of persuasion. In fact, it happens so frequently and in such a variety of different ways that we sometimes forget how powerful it is. You only need to look at the way politicians use repetition to see the power it can hold over an audience. Listen to Donald Trump speak and you will quickly notice that he repeats his points over and over, pushing his main message through to your subconscious. 

This isn’t a revolutionary tactic – people have been using repetition in speech since the year dot. Perhaps the most famous examples are by Winston Churchill (We shall fight them on the beaches), Martin Luther King Jr. (“I have a dream”), and President Obama (“Yes we can!”). 

Repetition can make claims believable 

To dig deeper, we need to look at a phenomenon called the “illusory truth effect”. Discovered during psychology studies in 1977, the illusory truth effect is our tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure. In other words, the more someone hears your message, the more believable it is.

Psychologists say this is partly because familiarity breeds liking. If we are exposed to the same message again and again, it becomes more familiar. And therefore feels truer than something we have heard for the first time.

Repetition increases memory

Repetition is also used in marketing campaigns to keep a brand or product front of mind. Reusing certain images, words and messages can create a sense of familiarity, making it more likely that people will remember your brand and (hopefully) like it.

But there is a fine line between familiarity and fatigue. How many times should a message be repeated for maximum effect before it goes the other way and breeds contempt? According to some studies, the answer is between three and five times (Brinol et al., 2008).

How to tap into the power of repetition to engage your audience:

Limit your messages

For the strongest impact, select a small number of messages and focus on repeating these through more frequent campaigns.  

Create a plan of regular communication 

Targeting your audience with one message will not yield results. Research shows consumers need to be exposed to your message at least three times before they will take action. Remember, frequency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust.

Use multiple channels

The best results come from targeting your customer across multiple channels: letterbox advertising, print, packaging, outdoor, in-store, email, social media, radio, PR, digital and so on. Use subtle variations in your ads to recapture your audiences’ attention. 

Strike the right balance

What is the correct frequency for your campaigns? Take time to test and measure results so you can find the right balance. 

For more marketing tips and ideas for your small business, call our team of experts on 1300 725 628.

About the author
The Salmat Team

Salmat is a leading Australian marketing services provider. We help clients connect with their customers, week-in, week-out. Salmat's unique combination of targeted letterbox and online marketing channels enables clients to Reach, Convert and Serve their customers. We also provide a wide range of back office solutions, through our Philippines-based Managed Services business.

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