November 13, 2017

The Rule of Seven

Here’s a phrase you probably won’t see ever again: branded fidget spinner. That’s because, as any good marketer knows, all fads come and go, from Beanie Babies to QR codes.

But there are a few pearls of wisdom you can rely on, no matter the twists and turns of the cultural zeitgeist. One such pearl is an old ad adage, The Rule of 7, which states:

Consumers need to receive your message at least 7 times before they take action.

The Rule of 7 was first formulated in the 1930s by movie executives trying to determine when their audiences were convinced to watch a film. They found that a minimum of seven interactions, across multiple channels, was needed.

The true strength of The Rule of 7 isn’t the conversions it yields, though. Its strength is in the questions it forces you to ask yourself. Questions brands often neglect, like:

1. Where is my audience?
2. Which channels do I use to reach them?
3. How do I tailor my message to each channel?

As you start thinking about these questions, your mind automatically goes for a multi-channel approach. Because who wants to receive seven letters or see seven billboards?

You also start to realize that these are some of the toughest questions in the marketing world. The good news is we’re pretty darn good at answering them. 

Here’s a quick run-down of each channel and its strengths to get your wheels turning. 

Strengths of Each Channel

Direct Mail
In the US, direct mail advertising is the single largest advertising medium, making up about 35% of annual advertising expenditures. It transcends age—18- to 34-year olds all prefer direct mail because when it’s done well, it shows the care your brand puts in to reach its audience.

Your website is the bread of your marketing “bread and butter.” It provides your brand substance to pull from and a place to direct your audience to. Often, your website is the first place your audience goes after receiving your message, so invest in it.

The butter of your marketing “bread and butter,” email combines the strengths of direct mail with comprehensive analytics to see how your audience interacts with your message. It’s the perfect sidekick to just about any campaign.

Social Media
A promising 55% of people who engage with your social media account go on to take further action. You could consider it the strawberry jam to your bread and butter, because you can have fun, authentic interactions with your audience while driving conversions.

Video is the big thing right now. 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook every day and it is the most popular marketing channel. Your audience will love it, if it’s done well.

Physical media leave a “deeper footprint” in the brain. In this digital age, something tangible resonates with audiences because they retain knowledge through the physical interaction. Making your print materials interesting to read and look at is the first step, making them hard to put down is the next.

Brands who know how to leverage digital and mobile advertising have a much brighter future than those who don’t. Digital ads can surprise your audience and cut through the noise with interactivity and highly effective targeting technology.

Great Outdoors
Outdoor advertising can’t be turned off. That permanence provides a “big brand” feel that, when done well, improves recall more than most any other channel.

Events and guerilla marketing stunts let your audience take part in the evolution of your brand. Providing an unforgettable experience allows your brand to live in your audience’s memories and generate buzz weeks, months, or even years afterward.

Want to know more? Visit our nonprofit business hub to find a variety of case studies, helpful blog posts and Agency for Change podcast episodes featuring nonprofit leaders. KidGlov is a content marketing agency and certified B Corp with offices in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, specializing in nonprofit marketing, healthcare marketing, financial marketing, social marketing and purpose-driven businesses.


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