The Snowball Effect of Marketing

25 September, 2018

People love instant results. It’s natural to want to see confirmation that your efforts are paying off, and to want to see it immediately. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always work that way. When you join a gym, you don’t get an instant six pack. When you sign up for a cooking class, the knowledge of how to make delectable and delicate souffles isn’t automatically downloaded into your brain.

Marketing, too, can sometimes take a while to pay off. This doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, just as we wouldn’t say it’s a waste of time to exercise or take a class. It does, however, necessitate the right frame of mind.

When you approach marketing, you need to think of it as a long-term investment and not as an instant lottery payout. Otherwise, you might get frustrated and give up too quickly, and that would be a shame – because over time, the cumulative effect of marketing really pays off, while a lack of marketing can hurt your brand.

The Psychology of Marketing

People like the familiar. The mere exposure effect, a well-known psychological phenomenon, describes how people respond more favorably to things they’ve encountered before. This explains why people prefer the songs, food, places and even other people they already know. It also means that you can encourage people to like your brand simply by making sure they know about it.

Another psychological effect, called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, describes how we tend to notice something everywhere after being introduced to it. This explains why you might learn a new word and then notice it being used multiple times in the following days. As How Stuff Works explains, you’re not actually being exposed to the new item more frequently. You’re just noticing it more because you’re familiar with it.

Taken together, the mere exposure effect and the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon mean that by exposing people to your brand, they will start to notice the brand more and more, and this in turn can make them like it more.

This may not produce instant results, especially if the people you’ve reached don’t have a pressing need for your product. As soon as that need arises, however, they are likely to go with a familiar brand, and thanks to marketing, that brand may be yours.

This is due to another psychological phenomenon. Although people often claim to appreciate having options, when they are stressed, needing to make a decision becomes another source of anxiety. According to a paper published in Psychological Science, when this happens, people tend to go with the familiar option, whether or not it’s the best option.

Because of this, offering the best product at the best price isn’t enough. You need people to be familiar with your brand so that they can make a quick and easy decision at some point down the line. Consistent marketing is the way to do this.

The Numbers That Prove the Theories

So far, we’ve looked at the psychological phenomena that explain why marketing needs to be viewed as a long-term investment. Now let’s look at the numbers.  How much marketing is enough?

According to the traditional Rule of Seven, prospects need to hear an offer at least seven times before they’re likely to act on it. Seven is not a magic number, but this old saying is based on an important observation that has been noticed again and again – repeated exposures are needed to turn prospects into customers.

While the number of necessary exposures may not always be seven, this does provide an idea of the general ballpark we’re looking at. The Online Marketing Institute says it often takes seven to 13 touches to result in a solid sales lead – sometimes more. According to DMN, a study from Diameter found that it took eight exposures to a banner ad to increase advertising recall to 47.1 percent. A single exposure only increased recall to 22.8 percent.

Increasing Interactions Through Online Content

According to Internet World Stats, 95 percent of people in North America are internet users. According to Pew Research Center, about 70 percent of Americans use social media. For companies looking to increase the number of interactions they have with prospective customers, the internet can’t be beat.

This is true whether you’re dealing with individuals or other businesses. The 2017 Global Online Consumer Report from KPMG International found that 47 percent of consumers visit a company’s website before making a purchase, and according to Demand Gen Report, 95 percent of B2B buyers look at multiple pieces of content from a vendor before selecting that vendor. 

The Consequences of Not Marketing

So what happens if your brand gives up on marketing? Prospects who look online for information won’t be able to find much of it. When that happens, they may go to your competitor for the content they need – and that’s assuming they even consider your brand in the first place. Without marketing, your brand won’t be familiar, which means that buyers won’t think of it when they need to make a purchasing decision.

According to Content Marketing Institute, small business can increase their lead growth by 126 percent by having a blog. Looked at another way, this means that businesses that opt not to blog – perhaps because they’re unhappy with the lack of instant results – are missing out on a proven way to generate leads and grow their business. 

Marketing works, even if the results aren’t instantaneous. Like many good things in life, it pays to be patient and persistent with your insurance marketing.   

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