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Big, Advertising Specialties, Dallas, TX

Debunking The Advertising Rule Of 7

by Susan Morgan on November 13, 2015

7It’s not the idea of repetition that’s we’re questioning here. Repeating your message is key. It’s the number. Why 7?

You’ve heard it often enough, people need to see an ad 7 times before they remember it. This Rule of 7 is most often quoted by people in advertising with such confidence that you would expect to find tons of studies to back the claim. Not so. What we found was a fascinating piece from @successfulsw that takes a hard look at the science behind that all too readily accepted number.

The evidence to back the Rule of 7 theory, as the author finds, is limited. There aren’t reams of statistics, surveys dating back years, or journals full of research to back the claim. There’s only one study to be found, from 1989 no less, and this mentions no magic number. Seven just took over somewhere along the way.

Also contributing to the Rule of 7 myth is that there is a difference between remembering (7 is the number for short term memory) and being influenced by. Or taking action.

Today advertising geeks (like me) talk about effective frequency. There may be a “sweet spot” in advertising contacts that lies somewhere between being utterly unaware and completely over saturated. I think many of us can attest to this when we find ourselves humming annoying jingles to commercials we’ve seen too many times.

The lesson here is that the repetition works

All we’re pointing out is that the number does not have to be seven. Seven has days of the week and deadly sins. It’s the number of continents; we have seven seas and there are seven colors in every rainbow. Let seven have a rest. In today’s tech-driven, advertising-adverse culture, the number of contacts is likely to be much higher. Then again, for those in the market for a particular item, that number could be as low as three.

The important thing to keep in mind is you need both repetition and consistency to get your message across. Especially today. All messages must be consistent. You’ll need to use the message everywhere (website, print, speeches, newsletters, annual reports and all internal/external communication) should have the same theme. A consistent look. The same colors and words with your logo or tagline.

The good news is that you can deliver your consistent message in more ways than ever. Use print ads, put vehicle signs on your cars, maintain a social media presence, decorate your location to compliment your business colors, use them for work clothing, use the colors and messages in your promotional products and trade show displays.

Susan Morgan on sabtwitterSusan Morgan on sabfacebook
Susan Morgan
Creative, passionate and detailed, Susan brings 25-plus years professional writing experience to a variety of projects — get-noticed direct mail pieces, full line print catalogs, eye-catching color brochures and totally original. search engine friendly company blogs, web pages and online articles.

A lifelong love of storytelling has also produced a full-length novel (Out of the Ordinary published by booklocker in 2007). Susan continues to indulge her passion for fiction with a growing number of short stories (one an award winner in 2004, another in 2008) and finalizing a second novel.

In her spare time Susan enjoys gardening, studying astrology and tarot, being with family and friends and keeping up with politics and current events.

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