The Selling Power of Repetition

Recognition is the product of repetition, whether in the delivery of quality products or in consistent marketing messages.

I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right. 
— George M. Cohan

For most companies to remain viable, they need to apply a certain amount of effort toward marketing. It’s important that potential customers are familiar with the company name, but first the name must be built on a foundation of quality and performance provided to the customer. Delivering consistent quality over time naturally establishes the marketing message. Then the message can be put in front of the customer base as a steady reminder of what the company offers. Performance and marketing go hand in hand.

Recognition is the product of repetition, whether in the delivery of quality products or in consistent marketing messages. From a marketing perspective, familiarity can be garnered in different ways. Advertising can work well in many cases. For others, sales and word-of-mouth promotion seem to be sufficient. Some argue that even a negative story about a company or person can yield positive results because it contributes to long-term name recognition, or retention. But the bottom line is that a company not only needs to identify itself to its market, but also needs to keep its good name in the forefront of its potential customer base by continuing to meet (or exceed) customer expectations.

William Wrigley, Jr., was known for his firm stance in keeping his gum products top of mind among consumers. I recall a story I heard of him traveling by train with his accountant one day. The accountant suggested that, given the company’s strong position in the market, it could afford to take a year off from advertising and take advantage of the additional profit. Mr. Wrigley asked the man, “How fast is this train going?” After hearing the accountant’s answer, Mr. Wrigley replied, “Then why doesn’t the railroad remove the engine and let the train continue on its own momentum?” He clearly understood the importance of never letting up on the repetition of his message.

Magazines such as Production Machining heed the significance of marketing from two different perspectives. We have ongoing marketing campaigns for our products—content for which we work hard to provide the best quality. On the flip side, our products also offer marketing opportunities through which others can invest to help promote their businesses.

Another way a name can be brought to the forefront is through negative messaging, which may or may not be intentional. We might see this strategy in commercials, for instance, that are so obnoxious or off color that we are initially turned off, but their controversial nature is enough to get people talking about the brand. These viral (and free) conversations can create far more repetition than any single paid ad campaign.

It seems that politicians can sometimes benefit from negative publicity as well. Studies have shown that a surprisingly large percentage of voters select candidates based on name recognition alone. While much of this name recognition comes from simply being in the public spotlight, many politicians have been dragged through the mud via negative campaigning by opposing candidates, controversy or even arrest, yet still have won subsequent elections.

I’m not a strong believer in the negative advertising strategy, and I’m definitely not suggesting companies go out of their way to project themselves in an unfavorable way. But sometimes bad things happen that are unpreventable. There may be a way to take advantage of the situation, though, and turn it into a positive. How we handle the fallout becomes equally important in maintaining our good name.

In reality, we are always marketing our businesses in some form, but actions carry the strongest message. For most machine shops, one of the most important messages is the ability to deliver quality parts on time. Rather than advertising, a shop’s message is most effectively demonstrated through action and can result in increased business with the customers involved as well as a stronger reputation that may be shared through word of mouth. Delivering what the customer wants, over and over, is the best way to sell, followed up by making sure people know about it and are receiving the message and remembering it.