The marketing ‘rule of 7’ technique was started in the 1930s by the movie industry.
I know what you’re thinking; how can you make an age-old marketing technique work in today’s digital world?
Well, because even though it’s old, it’s a proven rule that is far from outdated.
In fact, I’ve used this successfully over the years and I’m going to show you how you can take advantage of digital marketing to make this rule work even better for you.
Put simply, the rule states that someone is more likely to buy from you once they have seen your message at least seven times.
In an ideal world, we would bombard our audience with marketing messages on one channel and get instant results, but it very rarely works this way.
Instead, messaging needs to be varied and cleverly mapped-out to have any chance of penetrating through the flood of marketing people are exposed to every day.
How the traditional ‘rule of 7’ worked for me
When I used to run full marketing departments, here’s the touchpoints I’d use:
The rule of 7 doesn’t mean you need to engage your audience through all the channels you can get your hands on, it’s more of a focus on consistently and repeatedly reaching out to them through the channels you do use.
I used to run all the above channels and more, but then realised I could get quicker results for some of my clients by focusing on digital.
It’s worth noting that if resources and budgets allow, then there’s still huge value in using offline channels too.
But whatever outlet you choose, you need to accept that ROI alone is an insufficient metric for measuring success. Instead, look at redefining what ‘value’ your campaigns are giving.
So how did I use the ‘rule of 7’ to get more measurable, instant returns?
My formula was simple: focus on digital for personal interactions and create more meaningful engagement.
What I found was that I could use digital marketing to engage with consumers 7 times every single day, even in a crowded competitive market!
Let me show you in more detail how I still leverage this rule.
Of course, you’ll know the outlet channels – so I’m going to explain a little bit more about the types of marketing messages I pump out so I can engage through multiple touch points.
Make sure to keep reading my commentary for a glimpse into my techniques.
Let’s start with the core; the knowledge bank (K)
All your base content needs to sit somewhere, whether that’s on your website or platforms like YouTube for videos, Medium for articles, Trip Advisor for reviews etc.
If your aim is to drive traffic to your website, then make sure your website performs and provides a good user experience so people will want to come back.
The inner ring is all about creating trust (T)
This is where you need to think about your content. I prefer quality over quantity, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s regular.
Blogging: It’s is a great way to share your expert knowledge and make you into a trustworthy source. It also helps drive traffic to your site, which helps place your content in front of more consumers.
Imagery: Your images need to inspire and inform, and they don’t have to be heavily branded. People will always create their own pictures in their heads, so make sure your imagery looks good and is reflective of your brand.
Video: It’s the same with video. Don’t just focus on ads with video, you can do documentaries and ‘how to’ explainers, which get lots of visibility and influence. In fact, data released by Google showed that volume of search for ‘how to’ videos is growing by 70% year-on-year.
If you’re not doing video, you really need to be. It doesn’t even need to be done with expensive production equipment, most smartphones are enough to get you started and some of your audience may even appreciate the authenticity.
Podcasts: They’re great too. Podcasts are the only the only channel to have come, gone and had a resurrection. Partner up with experts in your industry and explain why you do the things you do.
It’s the outlet channels that generate interest and likability (L)
Email: If you haven’t got one, you need to build an email list – even if GDPR has demolished your old lists, don’t stop building!
It’s a great way to share your best content and expert knowledge, so you give value to your audience rather than just having a relationship based solely on transactions.
Then, when you do need to sell, remember to offer discounts and promotions – just because people might not click on links and buy doesn’t mean they won’t feel valued.
It’s also become even easier to add email journeys, so a new subscriber will go on an email ‘welcome journey’ receiving the best of your emails in a sequence.
Social Media: Social Media is an ever-shrinking piece of the digital pie and consumers are getting sick of seeing branded content appearing in feeds.
Social platforms know this and have made it harder for your organic branded content to appear, but you can still make organic posting work for you. Just keep your content digestible, useful and engaging – read our Facebook organic guide for some inspiration.
And the reason I still love Social Media is because it allows you to have direct conversations with your consumers, wherever they are in the world – so be authentic and reply when others comment.
Paid Adverts: Reaching targeted consumers has never been so easy, and you’ve got lots of ad forms and outbound platforms to choose from.
Splitting audiences (including targeting new consumers and old ones) adds so many exciting dimensions to your campaigns.
For example, you can even run remarketing ads to those who showed previous engagement. If someone has been to your website or watched your video, don’t serve them the same ads and content as everyone else – they might be looking for something more.
Facebook has thousands of targeting combinations where you can run lead generation, dynamic ads, abandoned carts ads, thank you messaging and even competitions.
There’s also geofencing, where you can target postcodes or those who have visited a store, then serve them ads through the mobile apps they use.
And don’t forget affiliate marketing – having your banners and promotions running on other websites is a great way of engaging the consumers you’re looking for.
Web search: Organic traffic beats paid traffic by 3 to 1, so it should be in every long-term marketing strategy.
Done properly, blogging helps put your content in front of those who may be searching topics in or around your product, so it’s a great way to drive targeted traffic to your website.
I’m actually going to be doing an in-depth piece on this soon so make sure to subscribe to our emails or notifications.
Influencers: If you think beyond the celeb on Instagram, ‘social proof’ is a powerful persuasion tool and we all use it.
Nearly two-thirds of us check TripAdvisor when booking a trip away. This is an example of referral messaging, but getting your best customers to write good reviews about you is the simplest form of influencing.
Video testimonials are a growing conversion tool and retain viewers long enough to trigger all the emotions you need to help get more conversions.
Notifications: Push notifications have been around for over a decade and are such an easy add-on for any website.
Contrary to their name, they’re less pushy than asking for an email address and you’re not competing with other emails in a busy inbox either.
A simple pop-up immediately lets your consumers know about your latest blog, event or offer and drives people back to your site.
News: Generating noise about yourself gets you in the news and noticed by nearly 70% of us who get our news consumption from online.
Every digital marketer’s dream is to create that one viral post, but that’s not always possible. Instead, you can create a report or whitepaper on some key issues, and have others talk about it. This leverages the different news platforms out there and creates easily shareable content, which is actually a step to going viral.
If you were wondering what the (K), (T) and (L) stands for, then the diagram below should explain it.
No matter what you sell, you will see conversions skyrocket if your audience knows who you are, likes what you sell and trusts you. Which is more evidence on why my model works
You just need to make sure you commit to your strategy and that your messaging is meaningful and consistent. It really is that simple.
With 80% of all online activity now taking place on mobile, you can see why my approach is favouring all things connected.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ – well that’s derived from this golden Rule of 7. If you appear regularly in front of your audience, then when the time arises, they’ll think of your product first.
The key here though is to add automation where you can.
Think about the email journeys you can set up when somebody subscribes or buys a product. Or through paid ads, where you can show a different message once someone has viewed one of your videos. From cross-marketing on your website to linking up with others to push your content, there are so many ways you can make your marketing a machine that continuously reaches out to consumers.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.