Every successful advertiser knows potential customers must see or hear their ad multiple times before they see their best results. The concept is known as “frequency,” and it is one of the keys to an effective direct mail program.

One of the most common mistakes made by entry-level advertisers is attempting the “one hit wonder.” The misconception responsible for this mistake is believing the right person will see the right ad at the right time and, BOOM!, they’ll run out and purchase the product. But it rarely works that way.

In reality, there are a couple of factors that prevent a one-time ad from being very effective.

  • The “buying cycle” is a process through which a buyer makes the “buying decision.” The one-time ad would have to occur at exactly the right time to bring about a sale. On the other hand, frequency KEEPS your offering in the minds of potential buyers, so they’re more likely to do business with you when they move through the buying cycle to make their decision.
  • “Brand strength” is made greater with advertising frequency. The first time a customer sees your ad may be an introduction. It may be the second or third time before the prospective customer can remember you brand name. The fourth or fifth time may remind them you’re there. And the sixth or seventh time they see your ad may move them from lukewarm prospect to customer. After just one ad, they may not even remember your name.
  • While you’re ready to sell on any give day, a potential customer may not yet be ready to buy. Advertising frequency ensures a greater chance the buyer will encounter your ad when they’re ready to buy.
  • If you don’t engage in advertising frequency, your competition will. The more you advertise, the more likely you’ll get the business your competition would have gotten from the customers they want to reach.

Some first-time advertisers don’t see the results they were expecting and quit thinking they’ve wasted their money. Unfortunately, they’re right. But they’re usually wrong about the reason they wasted their money. It wasn’t wasted because advertising doesn’t work. It just may be the advertising didn’t work because it ended too soon.