The Marketing Rule of 7

The Marketing Rule of 7 is a principle that suggests a potential customer needs to see or hear a marketing message at least seven times before they buy the product or service from you. This concept is rooted in the belief that it takes multiple exposures to an advertisement or marketing campaign to change a consumer’s behaviour.

This principle has been around for decades and is based on the psychological concept of effective frequency, which is the number of times a person needs to be exposed to a message before the message is effectively communicated. The Rule of 7 emphasizes the importance of repeated exposure to build brand awareness, reinforce the marketing message, and ultimately lead to a sale.

Where Does the Marketing Rule of 7 Come From?

The Rule of 7 is one of the oldest concepts in marketing, and although its origins are a bit murky, it’s often attributed to the movie industry of the 1930s. Studios believed that potential moviegoers had to see an advertisement seven times before they were motivated to go see a film. This principle has since been adopted and adapted by marketers across different industries.

At its core, the Rule of 7 is based on the psychological concept of “mere exposure effect.” This theory suggests that consumers develop a preference for a product or service merely because they are familiar with it. Repetition makes a brand more recognizable and helps build trust over time. Consumers are more likely to purchase from brands they recognize and trust.

Application in Digital Marketing

In the digital era, the application of the Rule of 7 has evolved but remains relevant. Consumers encounter an overwhelming amount of information daily, making it essential for marketers to ensure their message stands out and is seen multiple times across different channels. In today’s world customers need to see messages more than 7 times, to break through the noise. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media platforms provide a dynamic environment for implementing the Rule of 7. Brands can achieve repeated exposure through regular posts, stories, and interactions with followers. Consistency in content creation and engagement helps to keep the brand top of mind. Moreover, social media algorithms favour active accounts, increasing the likelihood that a brand’s message will appear more frequently in user feeds.

Email Marketing

Email marketing allows for direct and repeated engagement with subscribers. Implementing the Rule of 7, marketers design email sequences that nurture leads over time. This might include a welcome series, educational content, and promotional offers, all spaced out to maintain engagement without overwhelming recipients. Personalization and segmentation further enhance the effectiveness of email campaigns by ensuring that the messages are relevant to each recipient.

Content Marketing

Content marketing embodies the Rule of 7 by creating multiple pieces of content around related topics, offering numerous opportunities for exposure. This approach includes blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics, each providing value to the audience while subtly reinforcing the brand’s message. Quality and informative content increases the chances of shares and revisits, multiplying the exposure instances.

Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting is a direct application of the Rule of 7 in digital advertising. By placing cookies on users’ devices when they visit a website, brands can serve targeted ads to those users as they browse other sites. This repeated exposure keeps the brand in the user’s mind, significantly increasing the likelihood of converting previous visitors into customers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO strategies indirectly apply the Rule of 7 by aiming to increase the visibility of a brand’s content in search engine results for relevant queries. By appearing in search results multiple times, through various content pieces or keywords, a brand can effectively increase its exposure to potential customers, reinforcing brand recognition and trust.

The Evolution of Consumer Engagement

The original concept of the Rule of 7 comes from a time when consumer touchpoints were fewer and media consumption was more linear. In today’s digital and highly fragmented media landscape, consumers encounter thousands of marketing messages daily across various channels. 

This inundation means that the exact number of exposures needed for a message to resonate can vary greatly depending on numerous factors, including the medium, message quality, competition, and the individual consumer’s attention and engagement levels.

Quality Over Quantity

The effectiveness of repeated exposure doesn’t solely rely on frequency but also the quality of each interaction. A well-crafted, engaging, and relevant message will have a much stronger impact than one that is seen as intrusive or irrelevant. High-quality interactions that provide value to the consumer can significantly reduce the number of exposures needed to achieve the marketing objective.

Personalization and Relevance

With advancements in data analytics and targeting technology, marketers can now tailor their messages to be more relevant to individual consumers. Personalized content that addresses a consumer’s specific needs, interests, or problems is more likely to be noticed and remembered. This shift towards personalization means that the “magic number” for exposure can be lower if each interaction is highly relevant and engaging.

Saturation and Ad Fatigue

There’s a fine line between effective frequency and overexposure. Excessive repetition of the same message can lead to ad fatigue, where consumers become annoyed with or numb to a brand’s advertising. This highlights the importance of varying the message and creative elements even when targeting the same audience multiple times.

Integrated Marketing Approaches

An integrated marketing approach that leverages multiple channels and touchpoints in a cohesive manner can amplify the effectiveness of repeated exposures. By presenting a consistent brand message across different platforms (social media, email, content marketing, etc.), brands can reinforce their message without relying solely on frequency. This synergy across channels creates a more memorable brand experience.

Measuring Impact

The advent of sophisticated analytics tools allows marketers to better understand the impact of their campaigns and the optimal frequency for their target audience. By measuring engagement, conversion rates, and other key performance indicators, marketers can adjust their strategies to find the right balance between repetition and engagement.

Creativity and Innovation

The role of creativity in transcending the basic premise of the Rule of 7 cannot be overstated. In a crowded market, creative and innovative marketing can capture attention more effectively, making each exposure count more. A unique, memorable marketing campaign can achieve the goals of repeated exposure in fewer interactions by making a stronger impression on the consumer. Creativity thus serves as a multiplier of the effectiveness of each exposure, reinforcing the message in ways that standard repetitions may not.

Beyond the Number Seven

While the Rule of 7 suggests that seven is the magic number, some modern interpretations suggest that in today’s cluttered marketing environment, it might take more exposure to achieve the desired effect. The exact number of exposures needed can vary depending on the product, market, competition, and the quality of the engagement. Regardless of frequency, repeated exposure is important for building familiarity and trust with potential customers, but it has to be strategic. If it’s not, then the message will simply become noise.

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