What Did You Say?
The Importance of Repetition
Last week, we learned about retired U.S. Navy Captain David Marquet’s lessons around the importance of “relentless, consistent repetition” in effective communication. Turns out, there is a fair amount of literature on this topic in the marketing space. For instance, experienced marketers know that a message needs to be heard multiple times to be effective. There’s even a popular “Rule of 7” which states that a potential customer must see a message at least seven times before they’ll be provoked to take an action. While experts argue that the exact amount ranges between 3-20, it’s pretty clear that hearing something once isn’t going to cut it.
This isn’t a new concept. Back in 1885 (over 130 years ago!), Thomas Smith wrote the following in his seminal marketing book Successful Advertising:
The 1st time people look at an ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.
We think that the standards of effective marketing translate very well into leadership communication. That said, despite the longstanding awareness of the correlation between frequency and effectiveness, we readily admit to being confused when information isn’t retained after being communicated… once. For instance, years ago we did a lot of work on defining and refining the Chenmark values (Chase Better, Play the Long Game, Put the Team First, and Keep Score). During employee onboarding, we do a nice little presentation on our values and what they mean to us. And then…we have proceeded to do very little in terms of reinforcing not only our values but also what they mean in terms of standards and behaviors. Our reading these past two weeks has been a good reminder that while we have some decent building blocks in place, we need to do a better job of “relentless, consistent repetition.” We just need to remember:
The 1st time people hear our values, they probably don’t listen.
The 2nd time, they don’t read the email.
The 3rd time, they might be vaguely aware that they are there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen them before.
The 5th time, they actually read the values document.
The 6th time, they think its corny.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with them.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s those confounded values again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing something.
The 10th time, they ask their co-workers about it.
The 11th time, they wonder how you came up with all these values.
The 12th time, they start to think that they might mean something.
The 13th time, they start to feel the values are important.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted to be part of a team like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they reflect on their actions very carefully.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will embody the values sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they understand how the values might apply to them.
The 18th time, they make a commitment to live the values.
The 19th time, they hold their teammates accountable for living up to the values.
The 20th time employees see the values, they embody what it is offering.
Have a great week,
Your Chenmark Team