Why Once is Never Enough…in Communications

I often hear from people who are frustrated with the success of their marketing, sales and communications efforts. These ambitious executives have announced a new project, an event or a special offer for customers and are wondering why they are not getting the response that they had hoped for.

They are working hard and believe they’re doing the right things, but where we dig a little deeper into the issue, the truth comes out.

“We sent an email..”

“I left a message….”

“I tweeted about it…”

“…Once.”  That’s right, once.

You’ve probably have heard that it takes several impressions for an advertisement or campaign to have any impact on buyers. Some people say three times is the charm, but often it can take 7 or more touches for a message to take hold.

In spite of knowing intuitively that we must get in front of people again and again, it’s easy to forget and assume that because “I told you once, that should be enough.” This is especially true with more personal communications where we assume that everyone is listening to or reading the messages we send.

Breaking Through

Unfortunately, in the chaotic world that we live in today it’s almost impossible for a single message to resonate. If you send out an email announcement, you will probably get just a handful of responses. These are most likely to come from people who happened to be in front of their computer at the time the message came in. You had their attention for brief moment at the right time, and they responded.

What about the hundreds or even thousands of others on your email list? If they don’t see your message right away, or if your email headline is not compelling enough, your messages are directed straight to the trash. Unless you follow up with another message or an additional touch point, all your prior efforts to develop your offer have gone to waste.

The same is true with social media. Twitter moves at light speed with over 140,000,000 tweets sent each day. Posts on Facebook roll out of view within hours. We’re living in a short-attention-span world where everyone’s focus is fragmented and you need to work really (really) hard to get your slice of it.

Say it Again

Molecular Thoughts

Repetition is important to make sure that you get in front of the people whose attention you need to capture. At the same time, you don’t want to keep beating on them incessantly with the same message over and over again.

To optimize your success, you should vary your message and the medium in which it is delivered. This could mean following up an email with a phone call, or sending a mass blast followed by a personal email. Sometimes a hand-written letter gets attention where an email may fall through the cracks.

Just as an integrated communications approach can maximize the impact for marketing campaigns, multi-channel communications can improve the results of sales programs, employee communications and customer announcements. The right mix and timing for your particular program will vary depending on who you’re targeting and what you’re telling them. With a little experimentation you will be able to find the combination that works best for you.

A final note of advice – be sure that as you send each subsequent message you suppress the people have already responded. Otherwise your messages seem impersonal and you risk creating ill will – the opposite of your desired effect. Take the time to target your messages for better impact.

Image via iStock photo.

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