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Reach vs Frequency – Systemic Marketing™ Part II

Are sales more likely to increase if you reach more people with your message (offer), or if you deliver that message with greater frequency to the same people?
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Curb Number

A young man shows up at your door.  For only ten dollars he’ll paint your house number in florescent paint on the curb in front of your house. Feeling no need for glow in the dark numbers on your curb, you pass on the offer.

The next day a different young man makes a similar offer. Again, you refuse.

He’s followed that afternoon by a young woman with virtually the same offer. Will you buy from her?

Believe it or not, you’ve just determined whether frequency or reach is of greater importance as a driver of sales.

Reach Trumps Frequency

In Systemic Marketing™ – Customer Acquisition on Cruise Control, we discussed the advantages of creating a a Marketing Cruise Control, a system to increase your marketing efforts in slack times and keep your company operating at capacity.

But the first decision is how to increase those efforts.

For decades media planners, buyers, and salespeople have argued whether it was more important to reach more people with your message (offer), or to deliver that message with greater repetition to the same people.

There are good arguments for both, but common sense will guide us to the following conclusions:

1. The more relevant the message, the more likely people are to notice it.
2. The simpler the message, the less repetition necessary for a prospective customer to “get it.”
3. Once a prospect has decided to purchase (or not), additional exposure to the message (during this purchase cycle) is pointless.

What should our original young man do to sell more fluorescent numbers? Go door to door on your block again? Obviously he should choose another neighborhood and make his offer to new potential customers.

And likewise, if you’re going to set up a Cruise Control system for customer acquisition, you won’t prompt additional sales by again offering the same people what you sell.* You’ll need to boost the number of people who receive your offer.

How to do the Boost

Don’t increase the number of ads in the same section of the newpaper you’re currently using. Put your new ads in a different section.

Don’t run additional ads in the local TV six o’clock news. Run new ads in the 10 o’clock news. Run new ads on another TV station’s six o’clock news.

1. Add a schedule on another radio station, or another TV station.
2. Add another section of the newspaper. Or another paper.
3. Post a billboard in a new neighborhood.
4. Send postcards to a fresh list.
5. Telemarket to a fresh list.
6. Expand the radius around your business and distribute more door hangers or flyers or yard signs in neighborhoods you haven’t been “working.”
7. Increase your pay per click budget.

You may be tempted to pull ad dollars from the media outlets you’ve been using, but if you unhook the engine, how long can we expect that train to keep rolling? And substituting an unknown return from a new media outlet in the place of the known ROI of a tested outlet only increases risk.

Systemic Marketing™ maximizes cash flow by eliminating speculation.

Everyone Has Opinions

Media people, printers, and your brother-in-law may feel qualified to opine about your marketing. Especially when you’re adding media to expose your message to additional prospects.

Your new media representative will want to make a strong positive impression in hopes of keeping more of your business. The printer will assess your need for additional flyers, or direct response packages as an opportunity. They will offer to produce new and/or different ads. Don’t let them do that.

By the time you’ve implemented a Marketing Cruise Control, your message will have been tested, refined, and polished. Everything from the offer to the choice of words to the colors, fonts, and images will be selected because they work better than those you tested them against.

And testing always works better than opinions when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

* OK. This is not completely true. But increasing the frequency of the message costs much more than it generates in additional sales for reason number three above. Most of the people exposed to your message will be those who’ve already decided whether or not to buy.


Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions boosting the number of people exposed to your message? Drop Chuck a note at Or call him at 304-208-7654.