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.