Repetition


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When I was a kid I remember reading an article in TV Guide.

Don't judge me.

Anyway, the article quoted someone as saying that when you give a talk you should repeat your central idea three times. The first time the audience will nod and think that it sounds right. The second time they will nod and remember hearing it somewhere before. The third time they will think that it was an idea that they had had themselves earlier that you are confirming.

I think the article was specifically talking about speaking to faculty members, but the results seem to be universal.

When I first came back to Cleveland, I lived with two guys who were in sales. One sold ads for a radio station and the other sold ads for a television station.

I was skeptical. I didn't think that ads worked. Not on me.

One night we were out for dinner and one of them turned to me and asked me to name three brands of soft drinks.

I did.

He said, those are the top three advertisers.

He asked me to name three brands of beer.

Same result.

Restaurants.

Same.

He said it's not that a single ad works. It's that a campaign where you get the same information over and over again - it seeps in over time and, whether you like it or not, you are influenced by it.

A couple of years later I was working on-air at a radio station that got into a competition with another station.

We would play three songs in a row with no commercials so they played four. We'd play five in a row, they'd play six.

We played eight in a row - we called it "FM 1-0-8 in a row."

I know. Clever.

Any way, at one point we ended up playing twelve songs in a row. We'd run a ton of commercials come back and play one song and then start another set of twelve songs.

Through all of this escalation and eventual de-escalation we talked after every song.

No matter how many times we stopped down for commercials we still talked after every song we played.

Got that?

And at the end of whatever we said, we'd go into the next record by identifying our station and saying "More music, less talk."

We talked after every song and then told you we had less talk.

And you know what?

It worked.

When we would call out and do research about why people listened to our station, people would always say that it was because we had less talk.

Repetition works.

In the case of a radio station, it's pretty benign.

Who cares.

But it also works in situations that matter so much more.

It doesn't matter how smart you are. It doesn't even seem to matter if you are aware of the repeated message. The only thing that seems to matter is exposure.

And that's today's daily blog post.

Wait, Daniel, you haven't posted for almost two weeks.

We'll continue our post-a-day marathon next time.

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