By Donna St. Jean Conti
“Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.” — Elizabeth Arden
Influencing an audience is a process that often requires repetition. One first repeats a message enough times for an audience to take notice, then do so again for them to make sense of it relative to their own biases and filters, and then do so once again for them to take action. How many repetitions it takes remains debated, as a message must be repeated enough times for the target audience to notice but not so many times that it becomes annoyed. One way to avoid burning out an audience is to maintain the key message while changing its delivery. This is where the value of multiple campaigns based around a single or few basic themes comes into play.
Psychology of Repetition
Repetition is a crucial part of effectively gaining an audience’s attention. But it also has a point of diminishing returns, as this study explains “there are two counteracting effects” that occur when one uses repetition to persuade someone. The first is known as the “truth effect” where people find a message more credible the more they hear and see it. However, the second is an unlabeled reaction in which the target consumer sees the message as an attempt at persuading them, resulting in a negative association that “reduces the participants’ trust in the source.” In sum, repeating a message can increase the trustworthiness and credibility of a product but can turn in a nuisance if done incorrectly.
Effectively Using Repetition
This article from Forbes, “The Key To Successful Communications: Refine And Repeat,” by Adrian Dearnell, provides a few pointers for creating a memorable message that isn’t annoying. Among its various point are a “less is more” mentality and an emphasis on repeating your message. Starting with the former, the article explains that an effective message starts with a Single Overriding Communications Objective (SOCO) that is supported by three key points. The objective of this is to create an overarching idea that is then elaborated upon by three underlying points. In doing so, “you can turn every difficult question into an opportunity to restate your message and come back to your point” when presented with inquiries from journalists and audiences.
In addition to establishing a simple but substantial message, repetition is a must in an age where people are bombarded with information on a daily basis. The same Forbes article explains this concept well when it states, “Mention nine points once, and nothing will be remembered. Mention three points three times, and one thing may be remembered.” To avoid annoying your audience, this article, “Reasons for Jingles in Advertising,” by Elise Wile on CHRON explains that there are multiple ways to repeat a message via “print ads in newspapers and magazines, television and radio ads, and product placements in television shows and movies.” When these factors are considered, the result is a message that is memorable, repeatable, and unwavering when questioned.
Influencing an audience in an age of information inundation is a process that will only get more difficult as technology advances. Yet, with a message that is simple, supported by smaller points, and repeated many times in various ways, one can effectively reach the minds of consumers. Most importantly, the varied repetition of your message will ensure that the target remembers it as a credible and trustworthy product rather than a blatant attempt to persuade them.
Donna St. Jean Conti is president of St. Conti Communications, an award-winning, full-service, marketing communications agency specializing in public relations, social media, and writing support. For more information about our agency and how we can help you promote your products or services, contact Donna St. Jean Conti, APR, at dconti(at)stconticommunications.com.