Leslie Grossman, Author, Leadership Coach and Courageous Collaborator, LeslieGrossmanLeadership.com
I was having lunch with business friend Kristine Kern, a consultant with Patrick Lencioni’s firm The Table Group, and we were discussing working with our clients on communication and marketing issues. I said that I have learned to repeat an important message at least 3 times for the message to be heard and acted upon. Kristine countered “with most people it actually takes 7 times.” Based on research, Kristine is absolutely correct.
In marketing the Rule of 7 is a concept that has been proven true for decades. It takes a potential customer hearing or seeing a marketing message at least 7 times before they purchase. There are many reasons for the need of repetition. Buyers don’t trust you enough to make a buying decision the first, second and even the third time you communicate your message. It’s the consistent repetition that builds awareness, identifies a need or desire, increases credibility and after at least 7 plus times builds trust. The beauty of social media is that it offers multiple new opportunities to deliver your message in unique ways. Of course strategic planning is required to ensure you are reaching your target customer in interesting and effective ways.
According to Bruce Kasanoff, author of “How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk”, the Rule of 7 also means that “anytime you communicate with a large group of people, you should communicate with them as though they are 7 years old.” He says, “this doesn’t mean talking down to people; it means being so interesting, clear and simple that you hold their attention.”
The Rule of 7 also applies when communicating with employees, teams or peer groups. We know they are smart. Therefore, most of us think we need to communicate an important message once or twice and they will get it. We couldn’t be more wrong. If you want to make sure your team is clear on your company’s vision, strategic plan or goals, repeat them at least 7 times and probably a lot more. Put them in writing frequently, display a sign on the wall, create a visual or cartoon version, and state them strongly at every meeting. Make sure your message is communicated simply with clarity and to the point. Now I understand why my mother was always repeating herself and why I followed her example with my own children. I think it worked. Thank you Rule of 7.