The average person sees as many as 4,000 ads a day, but only notices 100 of them.
And if I asked you what ads you saw yesterday, you might only be able to recall one. In such a noisy environment — with social media competing for our attention too — how can we get our messages to break through?
The Rule of 7 is a great starting point.
If you want to spread a message, sell products or just understand your buying decisions better, read on as we dive into this marketing principle.
What is the Rule of 7?
The rule of 7 says that for a person to remember a product or message, they need to encounter it approximately seven times.
In real life, this number may be higher or lower depending on a variety of factors, but the key lesson stays true — you need someone to be exposed to your message multiple times before they will do what you want.
These multiple exposures could come through the same or similar channels (adverts, social media posts). Still, it is more effective when the exposures come from multiple sources, on multiple channels in different contexts.
This applies even to learning new words in a foreign language where more examples help someone understand a word and its usage better.
Why Does the Rule of 7 Matter?
In marketing as a company or content creator, we can worry about repeating a message.
- “They’ve heard it before!”
- “They’ll get bored.”
- “It’s too similar.”
The rule of 7 tells us the opposite.
By repeating similar messages we have the chance for ours to break through the noise of other messages and actually stick.
Sharing variations of the same topic can help increase the chance of finding the best way to express an idea. It also provides messages which may resonate more with some people than others.
But even sharing the same thing again can be productive. Especially as you might catch new people who didn’t hear it the first time.
And when you repeat the same exact words or message, you create a sense of familiarity and that means trust.
Think about it, are you more likely to hire the web designer whose slogan you can repeat without even thinking, or the one who seems to change every week?
I’d bet the first.
(P.S. This is a core idea of the storybrand framework.)
So, how can you apply the rule of seven?
How Should I Apply the Rule of 7?
The basic lesson of the rule of 7 is to repeat your message.
Let’s dive into some specifics to make that more effective.
Clarify your message
You need to know what you are going to say to be able to say it a lot!
That means clarifying your branding (The Storybrand brand script is a great tool for this) and your core messages.
Your core messages are 3-5 topics or ideas that you can share again and again.
A good rule of thumb is to work out your customers’ top problems (and objections to what you offer) and then plan your messages around those. Show how you solve those problems and how those objections aren’t true.
Find ways to say the same thing again
If you literally only said your slogan again and again, it would get boring.
The alternative is to start with a different message but return to your core messages later. This helps grab different people’s attention.
One approach is to use different forms of messaging (for example, you can challenge the reader or you could encourage the reader), another option is to find a variety of stories or statistics that relate to your topic and start with them.
Change the format of your message
Learner styles aren’t real, but we do interact more with different mediums.
You might enjoy videos on TikTok more, while I prefer text on Twitter/X. Reading an article might make some points stick, but a video will leave other impressions.
By changing the format of your message (repurposing content) you can share the same thing multiple ways and reach different people.
Share it everywhere
Messages stick better when we encounter them in multiple situations.
Combining social media, articles, emails, SMS, and traditional advertising exposes people to your message in a variety of places and mindsets.
This will help you get to the magic number of exposures required faster (and reduce the number required too).
Ready to break through the noise?
The rule of 7 is a simple reminder that repetition isn’t bad.
Customers prefer to buy from those who repeat their core message and it’s the only way to break through the noise in our age of distraction. While the number 7 is just a guide, the lesson remains the same.
- Work out your core message or messages
- Say them repeatedly
- Share everywhere