Repeating repetition really rocks
Many company decision-makers have a strong aversion to repetition.
It’s not that they get frustrated when others repeat messages. Their big concern is echoing their own communications. It crops up most often in planning for ongoing marketing programs, such as ad campaigns or customer newsletters, and especially when developing websites.
I’m not sure of the source of this distaste for repetition, but I suspect that it comes from the mistaken belief “new” is always better. We’re conditioned to react to anything that’s new with the assumption that it must be an improvement over whatever it replaced, despite abundant experience to the contrary.
Another mistaken belief is the idea everyone hangs on every word we say, commits it to memory, and immediately recognizes any repetition on our part. Even worse, we’re convinced they’ll react with revulsion and anger. “How dare their newsletter discuss the importance of starting with a budget? They mentioned that three issues ago!”
First off, no prospect, customer, or client pays attention to what you say as closely as you do. No offense to your corporate (or personal) ego, but it’s a simple fact. You may have spent an hour tweaking and twisting that particular sentence to get it just right; your reader skimmed over it in nanoseconds. She didn’t analyze the word choices or consider the quiet subtleties you so carefully added. She came away with a general impression, and that’s the best you can hope for.
Second, your prospects, customers, and clients will remember only a small amount of what they learn today. It’s a safe bet your message will not be among them, no matter how important it may be to you and your organization.
Third, your prospects, customers, and clients encounter literally thousands of pieces of information every day. From TV commercials, to billboards, to news stories, to social media posts about cats, they are inundated with information. Your message may be one in 10,000 they see today and, even if it stands out, it may be among 100 other standouts.
Finally, most people must see your message many times — perhaps dozens — before it takes root in their minds and affects their behavior. That’s why successful advertisers have long understood the value of frequency. With rare exceptions (such as the overhyped Super Bowl spots nobody remembers three days later), they run their ads again and again … and again.
When you consider those truths, it’s evident repetition isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very powerful tool, especially when compared with sending a variety of different information. If you have 100 opportunities to connect with your prospects this year, rather than sending 100 different messages one time each, sending one message 100 times will dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll break through the clutter and implant that message in your audience’s mind.
Beyond improving the chances your audience will remember what you have to say, repetition reinforces the validity of your position. When you make the same statement again and again, those words appear to be part of your philosophy. That kind of consistency builds confidence.
There’s another place repetition causes anxiety to many folks, and that would be websites. I’ve lost count of the number of times a client has responded to the first draft of web copy by pointing out that information on one page is repeated elsewhere. They’re absolutely right … and it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Why?
So if you fail to repeat the key information on multiple pages, you’re likely missing plenty of opportunities to connect. You can’t assume a visitor is going to arrive at the ideal page every time … unless you only have one page.
I’ll run the risk of further irritating many marketers and say once again that repeating repetition repeatedly isn’t a bad thing.
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Scott Flood – Guest Author
Scott Flood established Scott Flood Writing in 1995 after 13 years with advertising agencies in Chicago and Indianapolis. The Chicago native is a frequent author on copywriting and marketing topics for business publications, has authored two books of local interest, Books for All the People: the First Century of the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library and A Guide to the Enabling Garden, and is also the author of 100 Years: The Story of the Western States Machine Company.
Scott has been a frequent contributor to the Digital Toolbox. Check out his other article and interview on More than a Few Words.
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