Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why do People Need to See Your Ad Seven Times?

P T Barnum, showman, promoter, marketer

You might have heard that prospects need to see your advertisements seven times before they buy. That phrase is often repeated by advertising sales reps when they are selling you advertisements. "You can't expect results from only one ad" they'll scold you.

Teachers and trainers agree that new information is best remembered after repetition.

But who said that seven times is the magic number for effective advertisement - and more importantly how did they discover that magic number? What research was conducted to draw that conclusion?

Where did that wisdom originate?

Perhaps it was P T Barnum, the famous American showman, businessman, entertainer, promoter and sometimes scam artist.

Or perhaps was a real or fictitious French journalist.

Read this excerpt from P T Barnum's book, "The Art of Money-Getting" published in 1888 and you decide. Enjoy the amusing analogy that P T Barnum uses to make his point. This curious type of analogy appears several times in his book.


A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases."

Your object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost.
You are like the fellow who told the gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save him a dollar. "How can I help you so much with so small a sum?" asked the gentleman in surprise. "I started out this morning (hiccuped the fellow) with the full determination to get drunk, and I have spent my only dollar to accomplish the object, and it has not quite done it. Ten cents worth more of whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the dollar already expended."

Excerpt from "The Art of Money-Getting" by P T Barnum 1888

Can you picture P T Barnum smoking his cigar, swirling another glass of whiskey and chuckling as he wrote these words. Do you think he dreamed that his anecdote would become advertising dogma one hundreds later?

So how many times does an advertisement really need to appear?

Marketing Speaker

Co-Author of Secrets of Power Marketing


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