How Much Frequency Do I Need?

The best commercial in the world is worth squat if no one hears it or sees it.

Can you advertise too much? Sure, if you're spending millions, but many small businesses spend under $70,000.00 a year. Some spend much less, so there's no danger of polluting the air waves or boring newspaper readers with frequency that's too high.

Your budget will dictate the number of ads you can run and how many forms of media you can incorporate into your campaigns, and many people actually open a business with no advertising budget in place. A large percent of small business owners reading this, will say "That's me."  I always advise entrepreneurs that if they don't have an ad budget in place, they're not ready to open their business.

Current wisdom dictates that your audience must be exposed to your ad 2.5 times before they will get off their rear ends and take action. Of course in order for them to hear or read your commercials 2.5 times, you must run your ads many, many times.  Each radio station, for instance, will have an audience that listens for a certain amount of time. Some stations, like talk radio, or country, keep their audiences for a longer period of time than hard rock or alternative stations with audiences of channel surfers.

It's logical then, that you would need to run a lot more commercials on a station where listeners click in and out within seconds or minutes, to insure each listener hears your commercial 2.5 times. It's like playing a giant game of whack-a-mole. And it follows that you would need to run fewer commercials on stations where listeners "settle in."

Your radio reps have a mathematical formula that will tell you how many commercials you need to run on their stations to insure that magic 2.5 frequency.

You can build frequency by using different forms of media. Combining television and billboards or billboards and print or direct mail, gives you the opportunity to present the same visual as well as the same copy. All of your advertising should look and sound alike to build upon each other and increase familiarity of your business name and message with your audience. Whatever type of advertising you do, remember that you can't run an ad a couple of times and think the public is going to beat down your door. You might as well flush those dollars. 

Unfortunately, the memory of the public is pathetically short. Even a major campaign is forgotten within two weeks. If you're seriously low on advertising funds, it's better to run a long-term, low frequency schedule than it is to run a high-frequency schedule for two weeks and then disappear for several months. The long-term schedule will take a while to build awareness of your business name, but it will KEEP building, and that's what you want in the long run. It's like pushing a ball uphill. It's better to push slowly and keep pushing then to push quickly halfway up the hill and then stop, because the ball will roll all the way down to the bottom of the hill and you have to start all over again.

I once heard that raising children is like being pecked to death by chickens.  The same thing can be applied to successful advertising. Just keep pecking away.