There’s a lot of discussion out there about how many times a customer needs to see your product before they will buy it. Some go by the rule of three, some by the rule of seven, and some say there are no rules on ways to make customers buy. This discussion has been going on since 1885, when an advertising dude, Thomas Smith, wrote a book called Successful Advertising.
According to Thomas a customer needs to see or hear about your product or service 20 times before they will buy it. That sounds like a lot, but the average infomercial could rack that up in a couple of days. There are some companies who think you need to see their products 20 times an hour to get it. It’s like Chinese water torture, where drops of water are slowly dropped on the victim’s forehead until you go insane. I want to get out my credit card and scream “Okay, okay. If I buy the pasta strainer will you make it stop?!”
Here is the list that Thomas Smith put together for his guide:
The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.
I love how it changes drastically from “Here’s that confounded ad again” to “Maybe I’m missing out on something”. Human nature is truly fascinating.
I’ll add my two cents to what Mr. Thomas said. Here are my 3 ways to make customers buy:
- Change your copy – I had a teacher in high school, Mrs. Memory, who tried to get me to understand math by repeating herself. If I didn’t get it, she would just say it louder. I never did get it because I needed to hear or see it in a different way. Look at your product or service from many different angles. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine you’re trying to explain it to different types of people who have never heard of it before. Even with an explainer video your customer still might not get it. Ask people for feedback and get them to tell you what they think your product or service is about. You might be surprised at what you’re leaving out. A simple tweak could make all the difference.
- Change your style – Some people are visual learners and some are more audible. I tend to be kinesthetic and need to interact with a product. Respect that people learn in different ways and find clever ways to provide your message in all of them. Maybe Mrs. Memory could have tried to teach me geometry with a pizza. Sure, I would have eaten the lesson plan, but I would probably never forget radius and circumference.
- Change the messenger – If you’re not getting anywhere with your own message, let someone else get the message out. I was trying to launch a new website for speakers and working hard to get speakers to see how valuable the membership was, but I didn’t really have the credibility yet. After one podcast with a respected industry expert, the phone rang off the hook. Sometimes you just need a different “voice” or a different audience. By changing the messenger your message will literally sound different, and with the right experts it’s just enough to push your customers to buy.
I would still follow the advice given by Thomas Smith in 1885 and get your message out there at least 20 times. It works for infomercials, based on the number of “As seen on TV” products I have in my house.