The Rule of Seven is an old marketing adage. It says that a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you. Now the number seven isn’t cast in stone. The truth of the Rule of Seven is you can’t just engage in a marketing activity and then be done. Marketing must be an on-going process in order for it to be successful.
So why do prospects need to hear your message so many times before taking action? If you are doing your marketing well, you are targeting the right people; your ideal customers. You have created powerful marketing materials that use language your target audience relates to. You speak to their major problems and how you can solve them. Why don’t they jump to their feet and grab what you have to offer the first time they see your message?
In today’s world, people are being bombarded with messages constantly. It is truly difficult to get past all this noise and be heard.
The first few times someone sees your message its likely it won’t completely register with them. We all have marketing blinders we’ve built up over time – otherwise we’d be overwhelmed with the constant noise from businesses clamoring to be heard.
It’s no different with your prospects. They’re not sitting around waiting for you to show up. They’re busy living their lives and you may not even be a blip on their radar.
2. They don’t need you … yet
Even if you’ve closely targeted the right people, they may not need your product or service today. And if they only see your marketing message once, it’s not likely they’ll remember you tomorrow or next week or next year when they suddenly do need you. When it comes to marketing out of sight is definitely out of mind.
This is true even when your target audience is a business. When I was doing marketing research for my copywriting business, one manager told me when he needs copywriting he’s most likely to go to the one whose flyer just arrived on his desk. He doesn’t want to dig through his list of contacts to find one.
3. They’re worried about the price
In these troubled economic times, price may very well be an issue. However, objections about price are usually code for “I’m not really sure I need/want your product”. If someone really wants what you have to offer, it’s amazing how quickly they’ll figure out how to pay for it.
If a prospect sees your message and is interested but worried about money, it just means you haven’t quite convinced them of the value of your offer. The good news is you’ve gotten past the noise. If they continue to see powerful marketing messages from you, they may get closer to seeing your value and forgetting about their price concerns. That’s why you need to keep marketing.
4. The main reason: they don’t know, like and trust you
The real reason people don’t buy the first time they run across your marketing message is they don’t know you from a hole in the ground. Remember what I said about noise. It’s not just there are too many messages; there are too many messages that aren’t true.
Do you take every commercial, flyer or email marketing message at face value? Or do you have your own personal BS meter that’s shouting “yea, right” when someone makes a claim? Of course you do. I do to. If someone wants to sell to me, they need to prove they can do what they say.
This is the real truth about the Rule of Seven. It takes time for people to get to know you – remember your name, your offer, your message. Once they know you, they need time to get to like you – and your business. Over time, they’ll eventually start to trust you. Once they trust you – trust that you’re honest and provide true value – then, and only then, will they be ready to buy.
How long does this process take? Probably not in seven contacts. It really depends; it depends on the value of your offer, how badly they need it and how many charlatans they’ve run across before.
How do you use the Rule of Seven in your marketing plan?
First, never rely on only one type of marketing method. Even if you are getting stellar results today, that might change in the future. Think of internet marketing. Email used to be much more effective than it is today. That’s why the spammers got involved. Now with spam filters, it’s harder for legitimate marketing to get through.
The same may be true of other marketing methods. Some factor outside your control may change how easily you can reach your prospects. So even if you have discovered a method that is getting you all the customers you can handle, add a couple of other tools to your marketing toolbox to ensure you don’t get blindsided by unexpected changes.
The Rule of Seven is why “information marketing” is so effective. By providing free information to your prospects on a regular basis, you are building a solid relationship. Information offered in a newsletter or blog doesn’t set off alarms because it’s not a sales pitch; it’s a genuine attempt to educate and help.
Finally, simplify or automate the process as best you can. Too many entrepreneurs only market sporadically because they are “too busy” to market themselves. Then they wonder why they don’t have enough clients. Set aside regular times to engage in marketing activities, even when you’re busy. If you continue marketing even when you’re busy, you’ll have fewer slow times.
Andrea J. Stenberg