What if you could have a secret ally working behind the scenes, steadily working to convince your ideal customer or client that you are absolutely the right person for her to choose?
Well, you can. One of the most potent marketing forces you can use in capturing, holding, and influencing the attention of your prospect’s brain is the power of consistency.
You can easily trip yourself up without meaning to. Many bloggers get bored with their message and think their prospective clients are, too. This can lead to the thought that you have to constantly reinvent yourself to liven things up. You think you should start to write new things, put out new opinions, shake things up a little.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
About the time you’re getting tired of being The Fish Pickling Guru, your prospects are only just getting used to it. They’re just starting to “get it” and really hear what you’re saying. They don’t want you to change it, especially if your message is a good fit for you and for them. Change it, and you risk losing the attention and influence you’ve gained so far.
You also risk confusing their brains. And you want their brains on your side.
The brain remembers relentlessly repeated messages
The brain can’t pay attention to everything and it doesn’t let everything in. It figures anything that is repeated constantly must be important, so it holds on to that information.
Consistent, emotionally-driven messages are remembered too, for the same reason: your brain thinks those messages must be important.
Advertisers know this. How many of us can still repeat commercial slogans from our childhoods when we can no longer remember our fourth-grade teacher’s name? That’s the power of repetition and consistency.
Some experts say that it takes a minimum of 7 to 9 impressions for direct mail to make an impact on you, and it can take up to 56 times for an ad to enter your conscious awareness. So even the most clever, catchy ad needs to be repeated so often it would certainly seem to most of us like it’s becoming boring.
But it hasn’t. It’s just starting to sink in.
The brain likes to group things
It assumes that elements having something in common go together. Your awareness may see a group of messages like this:
At the same time, your brain is trying to organize the information. It saves time and energy by processing things in groups, and is categorizing the messages like this:
This is a really good reason why you want to be consistent — so that your clients’ brains can recognize your repeated messages and put them in the correct group “container” in their brains.
Every message you put out, they immediately group in the “Fish Pickling Guru” category, which means they have a steadily-growing supply of consistent messages that show what you have to say is important.
By sheer volume, those messages become more influential.
The brain likes to link things
The brain links new information with existing knowledge it already has stored, from the conscious to the subconscious, so it will pay attention faster to information it’s already used to.
Think of the Nike logo. Just by bringing up the image in your head, your brain thinks: There’s something familiar! I’ll let that enter my attention, and I’ll file that with my already large depository of Nike information.
This is why so many companies work so hard and spend so much on their branding. Inconsistent branding won’t encourage the brain to link one piece of information to another. Those messages wind up in different categories in your brain and become less influential.
Know your personal brand and make sure your messages stick with it to hold the attention of your prospect’s mind.
The brain values consistency
Familiar things are comforting to us. That’s why you always go back to the same restaurants even if it’s not your favorite food. It’s because you know what you’ll get — no surprises. As far as your brain is concerned, familiar things are safe. No danger, no worry. And that’s just what your brain wants.
Your consistency develops trust with your audience — we trust people who consistently behave in the manner we expect them to. You probably didn’t trust Uncle Eddie if he picked you up after school some days and not on others. On the other hand, you trusted your brother even if he was consistently a total pest, because you knew what to expect.
Building meaningful consistency takes time, but there’s one thing anyone can do. When you’re getting bored with your message, when you feel the urge to shake things up just to do something different, resist. Don’t throw it out just when it’s starting to work.
Being consistent can be one of your most powerful tools for growing your business — all by making an ally out of the human mind.
Reader Comments (59)
Josh Garcia says
What a powerful message! I’ve even fallen into this trap myself. The key is being consistent with my message.
What a great way to start off the week. 🙂
Phyllis O'Neill says
Great advice, Marcia! I will definitely re-think things before changing them up from now on!
that’s a brilliant article , thank you for writing it 🙂
Randy Kemp says
Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post. People forget that the real driving force behind marketing and copywriting is psychology. If you don’t know about this science…how to apply it to buyer’s persona – forget it.
I’m happy you shared some exercises. One of my favorite exercises is the Gestalt theory…it’s the famous vases…are they a vase or two people, facing each other?. If you Google “figure ground perception”, a Wiki article and Google supplied images surface first. Now I need to think how to apply it to marketing.
No mater how we slice the bread
without psychology, we are dead.
Marcia Hoeck says
Thanks, Randy. I’ve always been interested in the psychology of marketing and why people act — or not. Without that knowledge, you’re pretty much just guessing.
Rinatis Dinoro says
I especially liked the part with the brain that loves to group things.
That is in fact an effect of the learning methods we have been subject to. I recommend you to search for Vera Birkenbihl’s latest discovery in this field
Erik Emanuelli @ FreeMakeMoneyAdvice says
Thanks for the interesting post, Marcia.
The brain is the most powerful means available to the human being.
Justin Popovic says
Best post I have read today. I love lessons like this that are based on science and factual evidence. There is incredible power in consistency and I think you have just illustrated it perfectly. This advice needs to be heard by ANYONE wanting to brand themselves through a blog. I have been guilty of not blogging consistently and this has totally convinced me to keep on the track I’ve been on. Well done and thanks for the articl.e
Sarah Arrow says
Thank you Marcia, I have heard lots of people preach the “consistent branding” message, but never knew the reason why. I am just one of those people who like to know things 🙂
Off to sign up for your webinar now.
Marcia Hoeck says
Hey, Sarah, me too, I need to know why. It sure helps me get motivated to follow through on things.
Sales Training Surrey says
This is great – so true that sales people get bored easily! But they need to learn to be more persistent and consistent. This will appeal to their many prospects that are S personalities in DISC profiling who like steadiness.
David Sonnen says
It is amazing how consistently you’ve provided valuable insights — not just for blogging, but for communicating in any media. This post is yet another very valuable insight. Thanks!!!
Cynthia Bailey MD says
The interesting psychological point here that hits home for me is that when I get bored with my message (or impatient because I don’t know if people aren’t getting it) my readers are actually just starting to have heard it enough for it to really register.That’s helpful. I’m a physician and new to marketing. I know that with my patients I ‘plant a seed’ (like wear sunscreen) and it takes a few years to really get into their self care habits in a meaningful way. But with my skin care web site it’s all new to me. I appreciate your experience and advice to give my message (intelligent results based skin care works better than fluffy fake science skin care) time, and to repeat it in a consistent and familiar manner. Thanks for the encouragement.
Marcia Hoeck says
When I had my marketing communications firm, one client in particular used to ask us to change their message every year — and we had to do a whole lot of talking to convince them not to. The surprising thing was, when we finally convinced them to be consistent across ALL of their marketing messages — up to that point we had only been doing some of their communications, not all — they not only got more bang for their buck, but reports started coming in from the field: “Our customers are telling us they now understand what we do.” They had essentially gotten rid of the confusing conflicting messages. Simple, but amazing. Amazing, but simple.
Sonia Simone says
I think most of us underestimate the degree to which confusion = fear. And fear = inaction. And inaction = going broke. 🙂
Exactly right, Sonia — and Marcia’s helpful post breaks it down perfectly so we don’t experience fear or confusion as we read it — we can act on the clear advice.
The trick is the “…we’re just getting bored with our message” part — the challenge there is to reinvigorate our own behind-the-scenes interest in our brand’s message.
The danger is in switching messages too soon under the guise of “testing,” your brand can’t be a carousel of “does this do it for you? Does this?! Or this?!”
Looking forward to reading more from Marcia here, on the subject ~ this was a VERY helpful (and right-sized-for-me) post ~thanks!
Melanie Kissell says
I’ll second that motion (equation), Sonia!!
This is a great article.
This is the kind of information folks should read after all the 101 articles of starting your business or online identity.
It’s super important to keep pushing that consistency of your brand.
Nice Post, something new for new blogger like me.
I had encounter a scenario where the blog reader actually commented on my repeated slogan on opening of my post.
The frequency of repeating the message is also important to ensure reader don’t get annoyed.
Thanks Marcia, for such an excellent post:-)
Vaclav Gregor says
Interesting opinion. Not many people would be able to think this way. When you talked about branding and the commercial slogans I really get it. Now I’m rething few articles on different blogs I read every day and I have to admit that you are right, the audience need time to really underestand your thoughts you put into the article.
Wow, was the timing perfect on this post! Just this morning, I was getting bored of my message and thought “maybe I won’t post this week, it’s not like anyone’s going to have a panic attack…”
After I return from Target, in all its oh-so-comfortable familiarity, I’m going to post 🙂
Thanks (x 7)!
Pamela Wilson says
Preach it, sister!
I’ve been telling clients this for two decades: right when you’re getting sick to death of your tag line, logo, colors and marketing message is when they’re just starting to sink in. It’s not the time to throw in the towel, it’s the time to stay the course.
I’ve talked myself right out of a few branding redesign jobs by explaining this information, but I couldn’t have taken the jobs in good faith.
Thanks for the post, Marcia.
Marcia Hoeck says
Me, too, Pamela. Hurts the pocketbook but helps the integrity. 🙂
Jef Menguin says
In other words, learn to befriend your brain.
Jack Price says
Great insights. My graphic designer introduced me to a concept I had never heard of, called a lock-up. It’s a visual image that you can link to all of your branding. (He described the Nike swoosh as a lock-up.) It enables you to design a separate visual identity for each of your properties – website, blog, book, newsletter, products, etc. – and tie them all together by adding the lock-up. Over time, the lock-up begins to symbolize all of your properties in the mind of the consumer.
This is such a good reminder – I’m glad I saw this post. I’ve often felt like I have to keep coming up with new things. You’re right, that’s not necessarily what’s expected of us or even desirable.
Jose Tabor says
Nice write up. This reminds me of a common problem with some of the writers I work with. We/they have a tendency to assume that the reader is coming from the same mindset and basis as they are. This means that a- they try to spice things up and b- they assume that the reader knows too much, and don’t explain concepts sufficiently.
Marcia Hoeck says
Good point, Jose. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes sounds too simplistic, doesn’t it?
Johnny B. Truant says
FIRST MOTHER/SON COMBO ON COPYBLOGGER IN DA HOUSE!
Melanie Kissell says
Love your Mum — she’s a keeper! So proud to have her in my circle of influence. Merry Christmas, Johnny!
Very useful information. Not only am I going to start applying this to my blog but I will use this in my ministry.
I never really thought that I needed personal brand as a missionary but I bet this could help with supporters.
Robert Smith says
Hi, Thanks for the great read. The brain and mind is such a powerful and complex thing that we all take it for granted. This article throws a different light on the working of the brain for me anyway.
Nick Tart says
Hi Marcia! I always thought this was the case but I didn’t have the reasoning to back it up. Very clear explanation to a tough concept. ‘Preciate it.
Susan Guthrie says
Marcia, I’m really glad you wrote this post. I’m currently marketing a truly lovely part of the world – Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast – and wondered whether I was using too ‘much’ consistency within the pages of or site.
I’m glad to know that I’m on the right track and really appreciate the informative nature of your post. Thanks for sharing.
sabine taylor says
A couple of years ago I told a store manager instead of telling his reps what they need to do……to instead place images of what they needed to do….so we took pictures of each rep and under their names we placed words that we wanted them to become…even if they were negative. We placed words like strength, customer focused etc. on stair risers so as they went up and down the stairs they were reminded of what we wanted them to be without telling them. In less than a month the stores customer services scores was 60% higher and it became a best practice for the entire region. So creating mindshare with employee works too.
Brian Welch says
Great post! Like a lot of bloggers and online Entrepreneurs, I suffer from the desire to constantly due something new so I don’t get bored. I have a hard time being consistent and staying the course but have come to realize over the last couple of years that jumping from one thing to another has kept me entertained but has probably held me back as well. I am more focused then ever and your post really hit home with me.
Chris "The Traffic Blogger" says
You can say the same thing many different ways and entertain your audience. Repetition makes them feel at home and comfortable because they agreed with you the first time, second, third, and on and on.
Eventually they will trust you as an expert because they’ve been agreeing with your points all along and their brain will think of you when they want their problems solved.
Hmm.. I didn’t know that there is a secret like this, now it really figures! A nice new thing to learn. Great! Now I learned more about persuading people psychologically by this simple secret. I hope this also works with writing love letters, lols!
Dennis M says
Hey Marcia, although I’m a big fan of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and this definitely reads like a KISS article, I’d like to give my two cents here just to be clear:
Being consistent does NOT mean that you can only talk about one topic on your blog for the rest of your blogging career and it also does NOT mean that you can only promote one product on your blog… but…
What it does mean is that you can’t behave like a testosterone-filled macho man who curses a lot and likes to expose the truth about his niche today… and behave like a saint tomorrow.
In other words: find your voice and freaking stick to it. You talk about your dog a lot? Keep talking about that dog then. You have a serious coffee addiction and like to make fun of yourself a lot for it (like I do)? Keep doing it.
it’s also opening or ending your blog post in the exact same way. How to know it works: people start sending you emails that start or end the way YOU start or end your blogs!
Define the personality your audience wants, and then give them as much of it as you can even when you’re writing about flowers today and cars tomorrow.
Interesting marketing topic that explains this in more detail: the avatar (no not a movie with blue smurfs). Google it!
This was a highly informative post – particularly the piece around the relentless repetition of messages. I am always trying to write about new things rather than re-enforcing points that I may have made in the past.
Lesson learned – so many thanks
Thanks for this one. What I love about this post is that while the information is not new, it is the first time I’ve seen it applied to the challenge of creating blog content. It’s amazing how consistent we are in how we learn material, whether it’s a blog’s character, academic, social, branding, even physical skills, I’d guess. Repetition (consistency) not only seems to help raw recall but it gives us the data bank needed to organize them with similar information. Your point about how many slogans we remember while unable to recall things that should be more meaningful is, I think, universal. I sometimes wonder how much more quickly I would be able to learn new things if we could somehow clear the brain of “Fahrvergnugen” and “We Bring Good Things to Life,” etc., though to be fair, more than slogans are clogging the synapses, things like “Funky Town.”
Carl " The Social Media Consultant" says
Thank you, for this useful information. As a consultant, its important to know how your audience respond to what they see or hear from marketing point of view. Marcia, I agree with the dynamic of this partnership. This was a very good topic.
This is so on point. This is great information Marcia and I will pass this post on to my readers!
Marcia Hoeck says
Thanks, Kerwin, always like being passed on!
Melanie Kissell says
Beautiful post, Marcia!
This is a hallmark moment for me and others, I’m sure. We’ve now learned a brand new kind of “linking” — and it has nothing to do with url’s, hyperlinks, or anchor text! 🙂
Kudos to you for being a published author here on Copyblogger. You’re the cat’s pajamas!
Elmar Sandyck says
Awesome thoughts! This is truly valuable information that I could use well in my business. I haven’t really thought of being ‘consistent’ in this way so this is truly an eye-opener.
Thanks a lot for sharing.
Merry Christmas to you and the rest of the writers at Copyblogger!
Barbara McCollough says
Thank you so much for this article. It couldn’t be more timely than now when my overactive creative brain joins forces with the New Year impulse to make everything “new” “bigger” “better”
So many of us entrepreneurs are addicted to novelty.. Reading your article has shed light on how this can actually work against us!
Thanks so much!
Cindy Caldwell says
Hi Marcia —
Congratulations on this great article! Looks like it has already helped lots of people, as it has been a great reminder to me as well. As a fairly new blogger working to build my audience, I sometimes begin to think ‘maybe I’m not talking about something anyone is interested in’. Your article helps me remember to stick with exactly what I’m doing — and they will come.
Thanks again for this, and Here’s to a Fantastic 2011!
Bonnie Hutchinson says
Wow, thanks Marcia! I’ve studied something of how the brain works but never thought of applying it this way. Thank you thank you!
I like using headings and sub-heads (as you did!) in articles to make it easy for the brain to group things.
You’ve given me permission to repeat my messages. I’m now calling it “consistency” – a much better word than I was thinking before.
Thanks again for this great information.
Thank you so much for this. This really hits home for me, in learning about blogging. What you said really matches up with what I learned as an educator, that to teach a concept, you have to keep coming back to it, again and again, in many different ways, so that the concept sinks in. This article could just as easily be given to teachers, as encouragement to not give up on their message, too. Wonderful, and thank you. Very thought-provoking!
Lindsey McCaffrey says
Really interesting post, Marcia. I completely agree with the idea of repetition. The unfortunate thing is that, with so many communication silos within an enterprise, getting a consistent message out to the masses can be rather difficult. I wrote a blog article about this a few months ago. Although I’m not a scientist, I would venture to guess that consistency breeds familiarity, which in turn breeds trust. But if this is so important to acquire customers/clients, why aren’t more organizations placing focus on consistent messaging? http://lindseymccaffrey.com/consistent-messaging-how-integrated-marketing-communications-builds-trust/
Thanks again for your article – I really enjoyed it.
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