Reinforce with Repetition
By Christy Lamagna CMP, CMM, CTSM
Drive effective content exposure with repeated messaging
There are some instances where quality is more important than quantity. (Think a gourmet meal versus an $8.99 all you can eat buffet.) Other times, quantity is more important than quality. (Think water to put out a fire. Tap is just fine. Bottled is not necessary!) In some situations, quality and quantity are of equal importance.
When I think about quality and quantity being equal in stature my mind immediately goes to shoes and handbags, but, alas, this is a column about work, not play so we’ll shift focus from the latest in fashion to what’s always in fashion at strategic meetings; content.
In addition to being relevant, to be effective content must be repeated. And repeated again. As consumers, we are bombarded with messaging. Companies don’t run an ad once and believe that’s all it takes to influence our behavior. They reinforce their message by exposing us to it repeatedly because they know we need to be made aware of the product or service first and then be re-exposed to it, so we may form an opinion. From there a desire for the product or service begins to form and, if all goes according to plan, their messaging will influence our behavior and cause us to act, which in most cases translates to making a purchase. That’s known in the marketing world as, “The Rule of Seven” because the belief is a person needs to be exposed to a marketing message at least seven times before taking action.
Why then, do the companies we work for expect their internal audiences to hear a keynote speaker or a breakout presenter once and expect behavior to change? If we want people to learn a new skill, create a new habit, or break an old one, an equal amount of time and attention must be invested. Isn’t it curious that when your target audience is your client base, enormous sums of money are devoted to influencing behavior, but we apply a “one and done” approach to internal audiences. It seems illogical, yet it happens every day.
Knowing how to help our organizations shape content fulfills only half an event strategists’ obligation to an audience. Providing a way for the messaging to be reinforced and readily available is the other. This may be an idea you share and someone else executes; it doesn’t matter who owns the task it simply needs to happen. The challenge is this critical step is often overlooked. As a strategist, you need to be aware of all the elements of what influences behavior and achieves goals, even if you are not directly responsible for the task’s execution. Strategy is about seeing the big picture, so think beyond your immediate sphere of influence or responsibility. It’s about the goal not work boundaries.
Creating content that remains relevant and available is known as “evergreen.” The more exposure an audience has to materials the more potential value it has; remember we need to be exposed to things repeatedly before the message crystalizes. Making the information available on demand adds convenience, however a “push” campaign must accompany it to keep the message in front of the audience.
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Worried you can’t afford to keep content accessible? Here are a few ways to keep content value high and costs low:
• Post presentations online for repeated viewing. Include program slides
• If a speaker has written a book, make the e-book available to all attendees
• Put the presentations on a jump drive if you do not want to post online
• Create an online forum for audience members to share follow up questions
• Ask presenters to post a tip, fact, or reminder each month and send via email or corporate newsletter
Events can be expensive or expansive. If you want to expand your reach, support the sales cycle, influence behavior, and contribute to your organization’s success, focus on content not just in the moment but in all the moments after. The Rule of Seven applies to all situations not just consumer marketing.
If you want a seat at the table, you have to earn it. Creating ways to help your company achieve its sales objectives and goals is a huge step in the right direction.
With the past being the key to the future in mind, you can quickly review the steps to strategic success that have been covered in this column since its inception at www.MidwestMeetings.com/ChristyLamagna.