Stay on message.
Those three little words sound so simple. But it amazes me how difficult it seems for companies – and their messengers – to do this. It should be the core of their marketing and PR compass.
Consistency and repetition: That’s what every well-crafted marketing and PR program adheres to over the long haul. Unfortunately, most companies forget these crucial tenets and they stray. Or worse, they veer so far from their original course, they completely undermine what they have already have accomplished.
Building brand awareness takes time, often a very long time. Building brand loyalty (a.k.a. understanding and being able to explain your brand to others), takes a lot longer. To accomplish either requires – you guessed it – consistency and repetition in your communication.
You have to stay on message.
You must repeat, I say repeat, and repeat it again, and again and again.
Yes, everyone at your company, especially you, if you are running the company, will grow tired of your messaging. And if you are like most folks, you will grow tired of it literally years before it has even come close to needed to be changed and refreshed.
Yes, there are exceptions, but these two ideas — consistency and repetition — are pretty much an iron clad, time-tested (oh, say since the invention of Marketing and PR) fundamental truth. Set in stone. Make that steel.
The Challenge in Real Estate
I get that it isn’t easy to implement a marketing and PR program in an industry that requires independent contractors to play a key role in the public execution of your communications. I feel for real estate brokerages, in particular, and their unique challenges when it comes to the communications equivalent of herding cats.
Independent people like to do things independently: like creating their own unique communications. Their own logos, their own flyers and brochures, even upon occasion (Egads!), their own new releases. I’ve seen and read many of them, mostly in horror, because the vast majority of them are awful.
And I don’t fault the creators for the creative: they are not trained marketing and PR professionals. They didn’t spend a couple of decades or more perfecting this stuff, much less going to grad school for a degree in this area. Yes, there are exceptions and on occasion, exceptional work. But even then, those independently produced pieces often stray from the corporate message. The impact of consistency and repetition – gone, poof!
But technology can fix much of this on the marketing side: through automation, brokerages can exert much more control and protect their brand messaging. On the PR side, it’s not a problem, it’s a check: hiring professional help and making sure your brokerage has a real PR program that mirrors what you’re marketing to leverage (as much as 2x to 10x) all that cash you are burning through on that line of your budget.
So we can blame the challenge real estate brokerages have staying on message on independent contractors. But what are the excuses of all the technology companies? Particularly the start-ups and the younger tech firms (fewer than 10 years old) that seem to change their slogans and catchphrases nearly as often as must folks change their sheets?
It’s one thing to pivot and change your business model – yes, you indeed need to create a whole new set of messages – but it is another thing to keep changing how you want to say the same damn thing. Stop changing your messages!
If you go through the right process of creating a Word Bank, going through the messaging process right, finding the right words, the right phrases and ultimately the right messages, you need to stick with it.
Repetition is not the enemy. Repetition is your salvation. Hammering away with your message again and again and again. When you are consistent and repetitious, you are being wise. When you are not, you are scorching your marketing investment and potentially wrecking havoc with your brand identity and awareness.
Just The Facts
Got milk? 24 years. Just do it. 29 years. Breakfast of Champions. 90 years. I will bet that 99 people out of 100 know these slogans and the corresponding brands. Okay, the first one has the product name in the slogan, but you get my point.
There is a phrase in Marketing called the Rule of 7, which says for a message to be effective, the same consumer must be exposed to it at least seven times. That’s at least seven times before they take any action. In an article by Jeffery Pilcher, CEO of The Financial Brand, he notes that Microsoft did an “effective frequency” study and found that the optimal number of exposures was between 6 and 20. He pointed out that Thomas Smith, in his book, “Successful Advertising,” documents how the frequency and the consumer works:
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.
Mr. Smith published this book over 130 years ago in 1885, and what he figured out then is as true today, and that is the more frequent your message, the more effective your message is.
Again, it all boils down to repetition and consistency in all of your marketing and your communications. Do that, and you’ll avoid the biggest mistake that far too many companies make.
If you need help creating a PR program for your brokerage that leverages the strengths of your marketing muscle, WAV Group Communications can help. Just email Nicole Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll schedule an appointment for us to talk.