Monday, December 10, 2012

Impact Shoppers with Creative Repetition

Hard to believe that it’s been almost eight years since Robert Kearns passed away. He’s the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper system. I’m told that at the funeral there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Then there was. Then there wasn’t. Then there was.
     As with intermittent windshield wiper systems, repetition by a retailer is valuable. Repeat the benefits of a product to a shopper often enough and the shopper becomes convinced what you are saying is true. The effect is so well-established by decades of research that consumer psychologists use the term “truth effect” to refer to it.
     But unlike with the identical repetition of Mr. Kearn’s invention, the retailer’s repetition works best if the product benefits, selling points, or usage instructions are presented in different ways.
     If you deliver an identical message again and again and again, the shopper might come to believe it, but at some point, they also start disliking you and the product. Consumer psychologists have a name for this one, too: Wear out. Wear out is more likely when the shopper is carefully evaluating what you’re saying. That’s why many TV ads can get away with rote repetition: Nobody’s listening very carefully.
     When people shop together, their memories for what a salesperson tells them tends to be inferior to what they remember when they’re shopping as individuals. So repeat the information more often when selling to a group. Organizational researchers at Northwestern University found supervisors of employees over whom they lack formal power do best when keeping the message consistent and varying the modality of delivery—a conversation followed by an email.
     Research at Baruch College has refined some assumptions about what gives the best payback for a retailer’s advertising dollars when running a series of text ads: Each ad should show movement forward from the prior ad. This is more effective than a campaign that repeats all the same content in each ad. However, in each ad, use some of the same elements that relate to the theme of the campaign.
     Even lessons from foolish jokes are remembered better when variations on a theme. Want an example? Okay:
     When Larry LaPrise, who wrote the children’s dance classic “The Hokey Pokey,” died, things were more complicated than with Mr. Kearn’s passing. While transferring Mr. LaPrise to his coffin, they put his right foot in, and that’s about when trouble started.

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Repeat the Truth in Different Ways

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