The Rule of 7 and The Key Ingredient For Small Businesses

If you´re running a small business, you´ve more than likely heard of the marketing rule of 7.

The rule says that a would-be customer needs to see or hear about your company or product at least seven times before becoming a customer.


The theory goes that:

  • 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the 5th – 12th contact


So, say, for example, you hear about a product on the radio, then later see it during a TV commercial. A few days later you read a review on a website, then see a banner ad, and two weeks later a friend mentions it to you. A colleague speaks about the product during lunch, and lastly, you overhear a conversation about it on a train. You´ve now been exposed to that product seven times.


How Many Ads Have You Seen Today?

Now, with the use of social media (think Facebook, Spotify, Instagram), we are exposed to many more ads than we once were.

In fact, according to data from consumer research firm Yankelovich, during the 1970´s, we were exposed to around 500 ads a day to now 5,000 ads a day.

Does that make a sale easier or harder?


Appearing Everywhere But Being “Seen” By No One

Today it´s possible to use pixels and trackers so that our company ads appear in people´s faces 24-7. But are they really seeing it?


If we look around, we can see advertisements at every turn, from product placement in movies to advertising on airport security trays, we´re literally surrounded by ads.


Through sensory overload and the bombardment of ads, we´ve become more and more immune to advertising. As discussed in a 2015 article on Forbes, research has shown that millennials don´t even respond to ads.


However, this doesn’t mean people are cutting down on consuming. No, no - the way that we buy has simply changed.

Trusted Sources

Today, we can enable pixels and trackers to retarget our company ads to appear in the browsers of potential customers. We can ensure that we appear on sidebars, top banners, and every possible spot to ensure our customer see us.


However, there is one key ingredient that´s missing. The sources must be legitimate, reputable and trusted. Simply “spamming” your customers will not build trust, nor sales.


Since sales and customer loyalty are built on trust and reputation, would-be customers need to be exposed to a product or service at least seven times including from reliable sources such as their family member, colleague, or friend.


If we turn our attention to millennials again, we can see that communication and trust are far more important than advertising effectiveness. Millennials make decisions based on their discussions and recommendations from their friends and social networks.


The Key Ingredient

While the rule of seven may be a good strategy, trust is the key ingredient.

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