Most people believe advertising is scalable.
These people are right. And they are wrong.
SCALABILITY: How well a solution to some problem will work when the size of the problem increases.
Egg-zample: The small-scale solution: you want 24 eggs per week and you have 6 chickens, therefore you need each chicken to produce 4 eggs per week... This solution is scalable simply because on a larger scale the same principal applies: you want 240 eggs per week and you have 40 chickens, therefore you need each chicken to produce 6 eggs per week.
Direct Response ads are scalable. These are those high-impact ads created to hit a target with maximum impact and trigger a purchase with a single exposure – The scalability of Direct Response ads is easy to measure: Reach 10 times as many targets and you’ll make 10 times as many sales.
Unfortunately, most ads are not scalable, primarily due to the unpredictable or erratic nature of time, relevance and sleep. Non-scalable ads must be repeated until you reach a threshold called “breakthrough”.
Breakthrough is that moment when the rules of the equation change dramatically.
BREAKTHROUGH: The best way to understand breakthrough and how it differs from scalability is to consider the following statistic: Exactly 9 tractor-trailer units will tip on their side for each 30 that attempt to take a certain corner at 60 km/hr. The data has been collected, it is conclusive. Numbers don’t lie. However, if you apply scalability to this data, you will wrongly predict that 3 units will tip for each 30 units that take the corner at 20 km/hr.
Q: “So how long will it take my advertising to reach breakthrough? How many repetitions will my ad need before a customer finally takes action?”
A: Your moment of breakthrough will be determined by 2 factors. The first factor is relevance.
RELEVANCE: Does the customer need the product or can a desire be created for it? Direct response ads perform poorly when a “moment of need” is well defined. You'll agree it's a bit difficult to sell a baby carriage to a person who has no desire to have a baby. Similarly, how do you talk a person into buying a new hard drive for their computer when their computer really doesn't need a new hard drive; or a new furnace when the old one is working fine? When your product or service doesn’t have what is necessary for direct response marketing, your best option is to become the solution-provider the customer thinks of immediately when their “moment of need” finally arises.
“Sounds great. But how much time is that going to take?”
That question can only be answered after answering this one: How memorable was your message? We’re back to that issue of relevance again.
Involuntary, automatic recall is known as procedural memory among cognitive neuroscientists and the rules of its creation are simple: Procedural Memory = Repetition x Relevance. In other words, the amount of repetition your message will need is determined by its relevance and one last thing…
SLEEP: the second factor.
Sleep erases advertising. This is why 12 repetitions spread over 12 months won’t have the same impact as 12 repetitions in 1 month. Becoming a household word in the mind of your public is like climbing a muddy mountain. Gain three steps forward during the day and you slide 2 steps back during the night. Three steps forward, two steps back.
But don’t despair. Breakthrough is on the horizon. Can you see it shimmering in the distance? Cross that threshold and everything around you will come alive.