Okay, so Humphrey Bogart’s famous line in Casablanca is one of the film industry’s most widely misquoted. But the idea of repetition is good advice for business-to-business marketers. It’s called the frequency phenomenon, and it explains why we sometimes find ourselves saying the lines to a TV commercial or singing along with a radio jingle.
Frequency, in marketing communications lingo, measures the number of times your marketing message reaches your target audience in a given time period. You’ll especially hear “frequency” discussed in relation to media advertising, where it’s likely to be key to media strategy. It’s a pretty straightforward concept: The more times a prospect sees or hears your marketing message, the more likely he or she is to remember it and, ultimately, act on it.
Here are four insights about frequency in B2B marketing communications:
What’s that again? — The human memory for information is very perishable. The social scientist Ebbinghaus studied this phenomenon and determined that the average person forgets 50% of new information after one day and 90% after 30 days. The only way to counteract this tendency to forget is by repeating messages over time.
It’s about timing — If your target sees your marketing message but has no immediate need for your product, nothing happens. Your target has to see or recall your message when he or she actually has a need for your product. By repeating your message at frequent intervals, there is a greater likelihood that your target’s need and your product message will coincide.
Dabbling is wasteful — If you can’t afford to do media advertising with sufficient frequency, do something else to achieve your marcomm objectives. Ad research has shown there is little significant gain in awareness until your target sees your ad message at least four times in a year. At that frequency, your target remembers only 20% of your message. However, the more times a message is delivered, the higher the retention by your target. At a 12-time annual ad frequency, your target will retain more than 50% of your marketing message. In advertising, go for frequency or go to other tactics.
Beyond advertising — A mix of communications channels working together — delivering a consistent message, of course — is another way to provide frequency. Relying strictly on media advertising to attain a maximum frequency can drain marcomm budgets in a hurry. A more cost-efficient approach is a multi-pronged program that combines media advertising, public relations, marketing emails, trade show participation and other tactics to reach your target with effective frequency.
Need help figuring out how to play your marcomm messages? Ask the frequency experts at CCC or email Susan McPherson.