Is the 20th Time the Charm in Janitorial Supply Marketing?

Thomas Smith's "Successful Advertising"

Thomas Smith’s “Successful Advertising” first expressed the theory of frequency effectiveness in advertising.

I am often asked, “What is the optimum number of times someone needs to see my ad to make it stick?”

In short, there is no one, quick, easy, and accurate answer to that question.  Each market segment is different, each geographic area is different, and each of your customers is different.  A message that may impact one prospect as it directly relates to a situation they are currently dealing with may be quickly tossed aside by another one.

And, of course, the message and its delivery also come into play when trying to make a firm impression.  Today’s prospect wants to be educated, not sold.  Companies that engage in content-rich, educational marketing have a better chance of cutting through the clutter and staying top-of-mind.

So what does that mean for janitorial and maintenance supply marketing?  Provide education with your advertising.  For example, don’t just promote the product that is effective in killing bed bugs … discuss recent studies that show the actual increase in bed bug infestation in various types of venues, such as nursing homes, offices, and restaurants.

When I was studying advertising in college, the standard “three time exposure” was accepted as the optimum number of exposures before your message was “received.”  It was a theory created by Herbert Krugman  in the 1970s, and theorized that the first exposure to an ad elicited a  “What is it?” response.  The second exposure elicits a “What of it?” reaction with the third exposure creating the true reminder of the message and committing it to memory.

With the bombardment of messages today, through many different mediums, I find myself re-visitng a  proposition put forth by a British businessman, Thomas Smith.   In his guide, “Successful Advertising he claims it takes 20 exposures to a message:

1st Exposure – The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
2nd  They don’t notice it.
3rd  They are aware that it is there.
4th –  They have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
5th –  They actually read the ad.
6th They thumb their nose at it.
7th They start to get a little irritated with it.
8thThey start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
9th They start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
10th They ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
11th They wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
12th They start to think that it must be a good product.
13th They start to feel the product has value.
14th They start to remember wanting a product like this for a long time.
15th –  They start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
16th –  They accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
17th –  They make a note to buy the product.
18th They curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this product.
19th They count their money very carefully.
And the twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy the product.

Interestingly enough, Smith proposed this frequency effectiveness model in 1885 … long before the internet, smart phones, websites and blogs.

In the JanSan industry, I think there is a happy “sweet spot” in-between the widely-accepted Krugman model and the remarkably insightful Smith model for impressing your message.

The real key is to have consistency, professionalism, accuracy, and content in your marketing activities.

Google’s ZMOT in JanSan Website Marketing: What It Is & Why You Should Care

The Jan/San sales cycle, as we knew it just a few years ago, has been changed forever. The main reason: the internet.

In a few mouse clicks, there is a wealth of information available to the janitorial supplies purchaser, such as product information, company reviews, and item pricing, to name a few.  Prospects can quickly evaluate any number of providers and products to solve their problems in minutes … sometimes seconds.

Purchasers’ proactive search for information has been identified by Google’s marketing gurus as the “Zero Moment of Truth” or ZMOT.

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Should JanSan Companies Stop Cold Calling?

I was particularly interested in a recent article by Nathan Yerian,  “Two Reasons to Stop Cold Calling, Now.”  With the incredible plethora of marketing communication vehicles available to reach customers and prospects, it might make sense to hang up the cold calling receiver for good.Rep making cold calls

Consider the alternative uses of your sales team’s time and energies.

The point of making cold calls is to find leads and determine if those leads are worth the pursuit. By implementing a sound inbound and outbound marketing plan, you will find you are generating those warm and hot leads that all sales people are searching for.  The question then, is pretty simple.  Shouldn’t you sales team be spending their time in cultivating the relationship with these “warm leads” instead of cold-calling?

Consider the tools available to nurture a lead relationship and eventually convert them to a sale:

  1. E-newsletters: Receiving a monthly e-newsletter that is packed with JanSan industry trends, new products, ways to keep facilities healthier, and how your company meets the needs of your audience will establish you as an expert, keep your name top-of-mind, and make you look good.
  2. SEO Website: Your website is your most important sales person.  Quite often it is the first impression a prospect has of your company.  Your current customers are probably getting “wooed” by your competitors, and they are probably going online to see what that competitor can offer.  How do you look “online” compared to your competitors?
  3. Website Updates: You should be updating your website on a regular basis with new information, updates on your products/services, and “success stories” of how you are solving customer problems. This helps in your SEO (search engine optimization) as well as continuing to attract your customers and prospects.  Create and offer a free “white paper” on a cleaning subject particularly suitable for your audience and market. In order to access the information on your website, visitors need to provide an email address.
  4. Direct Mail: Don’t discount the value of getting a hard piece of paper into the hands of your customers.  An advantage of direct mail is the 100% delivery guarantee.  No doubt, it is harder to delete a colorful, informative postcard compared to an e-mail message.

For more ideas on how to get away from cold-calling, generate more leads, and convert leads into customers, call Ginny Petru at