Marketing P.A.I.N. – Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking

Marketing P.A.I.N. is a step-by-step guide to more effective advertising.

Marketing P.A.I.N. is a step-by-step guide to more effective advertising. I’ve made reference to the P.A.I.N. acronym, and since this is the last post in the series, I’d best explain it.

1. Pinpoint your prospect’s specific pain to create a salient message.

2. Acknowledge your prospect’s buying mode for credibility.

3. Increase message frequency in the medium which best suits your message.

4. Note and track all outcomes.

In the first six parts of this series we increased the salience of your advertising by matching your message to your potential customer’s pain.

In part seven we persuaded her to act. We added a strong dose of credibility to your ads by acknowledging her pain mindset.

Today we’ll wrap up with the final two elements in the Marketing P.A.I.N. concept – matching the media (and determining how often to run your ad), and keeping records of your results.

One repetition of any message is seldom enough.

Have you ever helped a child to learn the multiplication tables? Then you already know rote memorization requires massive amounts of repetition.


3 x 4 = 12

3 x 4 = 12

3 x 4 = 12

You already had the child’s attention. How many repetitions would it take if you were trying to implant “three times four equals twelve” in the minds of casual bystanders?

Similarly, your message is more likely to persuade customers to call when at least half of the audience has been exposed to your ad three or more times (in a seven day period). You’ll see this referred to as an average frequency of “3.”

This doesn’t mean purchase three ads.

Different people use media differently. It takes a lot more than three ads for the average reader/viewer/listener to be exposed three (or more) times in a seven day period.

  • Most people don’t read every page of the newspaper. If your ad is in the Real Estate section, and they only read the Sports section, they miss it.

  • No one can watch every television channel. If your ad is on the ABC six o’clock news, the person watching the M*A*S*H re-runs on Lifetime won’t see your ad.

  • People see outdoor ads (billboards) as they drive at different times to different destinations. Your board at the corner of Main and Second will be missed by everyone who takes the bypass.

  • And radio? Most people listen in their cars, while they drive at those different times to different destinations. Your 7:20 ad will not be heard by people who don’t get in their cars until 7:30.
  • Any message in any medium?

    Mass media exists to communicate with large groups of people at one time. Though all media are capable of carrying any message, each excels in a different area.

    And at each stage of pain one medium becomes more efficient and cost effective.

    Your message position suggests the best medium to deliver that message. What follows is a guideline. Always do the math and keep track of the return on your investment.

    Stage 1 Media:

    Television, radio, newspapers, and outdoor signs are, by their nature, the most expensive media, and thus require more staying power. Use them when you have the potential to convert huge numbers of the public into customers.

    Television – If your message requires a demonstration, there is no better medium. Your production quality (film vs video tape, actors, lighting, etc) will be compared to national advertisers who frequently spend as much as a third of a million dollars on the production of their ads.

    Newspaper – Sometimes your message requires written detail, illustrations, photographs, maps, or lists of prices. Newspaper is an excellent medium for Transactional appeals, but it can also be a great way to build image. If your weekly ad looks like editorial content, such as a regular column, your reputation as an expert will grow each week.

    Radio – Reach shoppers emotionally through radio’s theater of the mind. Don’t be concerned about getting a deep voiced announcer. Sincerity, that is, perceived sincerity, is much more important than vocal quality.

    Outdoor – The most effective use of a billboard is for directions, like a huge “Turn Here.” Outdoor signs also make an excellent reminder medium for additional frequency.

    Stage 2 Media:

    At Pain Stage 2 your prospective customer will begin to notice signs, brochures, and topics of conversation that formerly had her eyes glazing over.

    Signage – Illuminated signs attract more attention. Simpler type fonts and very large letters are easier to read and understand when people are driving. Use attention-getting colors if they reflect well on your image.

    Newsletters – Frequency, great imaging, the ability to position you as an expert, and the ability to let potential customers get to know you and your staff as people, all make newsletters a powerful tool. Don’t do fewer than four, or more than twelve issues per year.

    Brochures – Create a separate brochure addressing one single pain for each product or service you offer. Don’t limit placement of those brochures to your lobby or showroom. How many other local businesses have customers who could benefit from what you sell? Work out a deal to leave your brochures in their lobbies and showrooms.

    Specialty Advertising – Refrigerator magnets, calendars with your name (and picture), paperweights, or pens will be useless without three important ingredients:

    1. Invest in something people will want to keep on their refrigerators, their desks, their dashboards.

    2. Include your message, as well as your name. It’s not enough to “get your name out there.”

    3. Don’t be clichéd. (Bent pens for chiropractors were novel fifty years ago. Today they are just sad.)

    Public Speaking – Put together a 17-20 minute talk about the problems your company solves. Local service clubs need 40 to 50 speakers per year for their weekly meetings. The business owner who shakes more hands will grow his company bigger, faster.

    Stage 3 Media:

    Stage 3 is the most profitable message position for most small businesses. Potential customers have considered several options, but haven’t purchased a solution yet. Your message may involve comparisons between your company and alternatives. These presentations do well in writing, but be sure to include illustrations, charts, or photos that reinforce your message.

    Direct Mail – Highly targeted, geographically limited, and response easily tracked, direct mail is the Stage 3 medium of choice. Like other media, direct mail needs frequency in order to maximize return. Most business owners try one mailing and give up. It’s not uncommon for the second mailing to the same group to get a better response than the first.

    E-Mail – Unless you have been invited to send e-mail messages to prospective patients, it’s probably best to avoid it. The spam image will be hard to overcome. But get people to opt-in to your mailing list, and you can eliminate printing and postage costs. E-mail is a great delivery system for your newsletter.

    Web Pages – Another electronic medium with minimal expense is your website, which has the ability to dedicate complete pages to specific offerings.

    Stage 4 Media:

    Within hours of experiencing the final trigger, people at Stage 4 will become someone’s customer. When they don’t have experience with anyone in your business category, people turn to the Yellow Pages and local Internet searches.

    Yellow Pages – Don’t waste your ad space by using your name as a headline or by talking about the number of years you’ve been in business. Your message needs to scream, “Stop hurting, NOW.” Done correctly, your ad itself may become the final trigger to call.

    Local Internet Search – Include the names of the communities you serve in the text on your Internet pages, so when someone Googles “Ft. Worth car stereo,” “Fargo men’s shoes,” or “Bakersfield appliance repair,” (whatever your city and business) your page will be part of the search results.

    Note too, that branding (or awareness) campaigns tend to work better in early stage media. Later stage media excel at delivering direct response campaigns.

    Community variables:

    In larger cities, direct mail delivered to a very small neighborhood may be the most cost effective choice for advertising your business. In smaller towns, the better choices may be radio, television, or newspapers.

    How much profit are you willing to give up to re-fuel the engine and pay for more advertising? It always comes down to ROI. When you’re considering a medium in which to advertise your business, ask yourself:

    1. Will your choice of medium deliver a “3” average frequency at a price you can afford?

    2. Will that advertising schedule provide your business with enough new customers to justify the advertising?

    3. What’s the value of each new customer? How much of that sum is profit for your business?

    If this produces a positive ROI, do more of it.

    If not, try another medium or a different media outlet.

    Keep improving your results by keeping detailed records of what you did, when you did it, and the outcome.

    Track the revenue per customer provided by each source. Some techniques bring customers with greater value than other techniques and other customers.

    In most cases, your first set of calculations will have to be done after the fact, but should definitely be done before you invest in another schedule.

    Also, remember that the size of your community and the number of competitors advertising their companies will affect the time it takes for any marketing to work.

    In conclusion:

    As a marketing consultant I’ve seen campaign after campaign after campaign fail from lack of direction and focus.

    I created Marketing P.A.I.N. to help small businesses achieve the highest and best use of their marketing dollars. Drop me a note when you’re ready to apply it to your own advertising.

    It’s my sincere wish that you see solid growth in your marketing ROI.



    Marketing P.A.I.N. Series


    Part 1, Relationships
    Part 2, What Do People Want?
    Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain
    Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting
    Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons
    Part 6, Make It Stop!
    Part 7, Tie It All Together


    Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking


    Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover you, and choose your business. Questions about choosing the appropriate medium to carry your advertising message may be directed to