Let me start with a couple of advertising definitions just so that we’re all on the same page.
REACH – the number of people a medium reaches over a period of time.
FREQUENCY – the number of times a message will be delivered to an audience
Since the beginning of TV programming, the advertising industry has been based on a theory called the Frequency of 3. The laymans explaination of this theory is that in order to have an effective advertising campaing, the average media consumer needs to be exposed to a message 3 times in a week. General feeling is that the impact of the campaign can be multiplied by adding more media channels and/or platforms.
Unfortunately, the frequency of 3 is wrong.
This frequency of 3 has driven marketing strategy models for decades and continues today. Adopted in 1965 by television networks, their marketing executives incorrectly applied a theory supplied by Herbert Krugman. Krugman summized that there are 3 levels of pyschological awareness… curiosity, recognition and decision. The marketing gurus of that day twisted Krugman’s observations and inferred that the average TV viewer would purchase a product if the viewer saw an ad 3 times. At the first stage, the consumer develops a curiosity towards the product, at the second stage they recognize it and in the third a consumer makes a decision to buy the product. The gurus of that day did not consider that the consumer decision isn’t to buy or not, but only to determine if this product or service is relevant to their needs. The real decision of a consumer is only wether or not to ignore a message.
So if the 3 frequency is wrong, what’s right? Relevant recency.
I’ll use a couple of examples to to highlight what I mean.
Traditional reach and frequency guy: Yes, it’s those awesome car ads from A1 Auto! He named his business A1 Auto so that he shows up first in the yellow pages. You know the ads, the sales guy in a suit is in the parking lot sweeping his arms over the hoods of cars yelling about what a great deal this car is for YOU! $1500 off but only for a limited time. Or how about this nearly new, low mileage 2008 sedan!! We must be crazy because it was listed at 20 nine ninety nine but for this week it’s just 18 five!! This dealer seems to have his ads on all the freakin time. There’s no escaping it. He appears to be on every channel. He’s reaching a lot of people often. But as the consumer you’ve long since past the “oh this guy is funny” (in a not-good-kinda way) stage and moved on to the “I want punch him in the face” stage or even further down the road to the “I’d rather poke my eyes out with a fork and pound shish kabob skewers into my eardrums than have to see that ad again” stage. And god forbid you ever signed up for his newsletters to get more information. If you’re lucky enough to be on this guys mailing list, your inbox gets bombared by ‘buy now’ newsletters that leaves you apparently unable to unsubscribe. Sure he may be reaching every tv viewer an average of 3 times, but the only thing he’s accomplished is irritating prospects.
Relevant Recency Gal: Lets look at the marketing manager at XYZ Auto. She doesn’t care if she shows up in the yellow pages at all. Her sole purpose is two fold. First to reconnect with XYZ’s best customers. She talks to the staff and uses the 80:20 Rule to identify these people. She wants to find out what these best clients liked about XYZ, how they could be better serviced and if they’d refer XYZ Auto to friends. Her second purpose is to focus on new business. She wants to identify XYZ’s best prospects, develop a plan to create connections, build relationships and then provide reasons to buy a car from her. This plan takes time. It requires a multi-platform long term communication strategy that focuses on providing relevant content. She shares and includes each department in her plan. This content is less less about delivering her own agenda and completely crafted from feedback that each customer segment has has provided to her. At the end of the day, she has no idea the frequency of her message delivery, but she has great stories from lots of clients that she uses to drive her decision making. She does all this because she understands that there are too many competitors just asking consumers “buy now” and wants to be different. She wants XYZ auto to stand for something different than the lowest price, the lowest price, the lowest price. She wants customers to know what XYZ stands for, what they can expect from XYZ’s sales and service department and to feel confident that buying a car from XYZ the customer will always be treated right.
Do YOU think reach & frequency or relevant recency is more important?
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