We’ve all heard the saying “consistency is key”, haven’t we? And this old adage is just as important in marketing for learning as it is in every other aspect of life. In fact, in marketing circles, the “rule of seven” is often spoken about – and it’s a rule that L&D needs to adopt. So, let’s have a look at the rule of seven, and how it can transform your L&D function:
The rule of seven states that it takes an average of seven interactions with your brand before a purchase will take place. And although in many L&D instances your audience will not be ‘purchasing’ from you in the traditional sense, they will be undertaking a transaction with you. They’re giving you their time, in return for learning something new!
Okay let’s look at an example for someone purchasing a new phone from a new, unknown brand.
They stumble upon your brand through a TV advert (interaction one), or a social media post (interaction two), or maybe a friend’s recommendation (interaction three). They’re still not fully convinced about your brand, so they explore your website (interaction four), sign up for your newsletter (interaction five) and search YouTube for review videos (interaction six). As time builds they start to build trust, and become more intrigued about your brand and interested in your product.
And then the tipping point, interaction seven, maybe it’s an email, billboard advert or an advertorial. But interaction seven tips this individual from a potential customer into an actual customer. They’ve made the purchase, you’ve built trust. And the rule of seven has come to life.
Each interaction is a building block in the foundation of your relationship with your potential customer. With each interaction, you’re reinforcing your brand presence, communicating your value proposition and persuading your target customer that you have the solution to their wants, needs and concerns.
As much as it may break the hearts of those of you that love a mathematical formula… the rule of seven is not that. The rule of seven is actually an average – the reality may be that it’ll take some potential clients 15 interactions, and others just three. But on average, it takes seven interactions, so it’s a great rule of thumb for marketers to follow.
Let’s look at a hypothetical company, ABC Consulting. ABC is running a marketing campaign about building a culture of learning; encouraging people to prioritise their personal and professional development and use their learning platform to do just that! So ABC’s seven interactions might be:
An email to their target audience (personalised for their wants and needs based on the persona work ABC have already done!)
A range of social media posts on their internal Facebook for Business platform – about the importance of personal and professional development.
Influencer marketing with their star learners – sharing their stories about how ABC’s learning offering has helped them grow.
Posters in the office canteen, which will be changed on a monthly basis to avoid banner blindness.
Digital banner adverts on internal platforms, including the intranet and help pages.
A launch event – complete with free pizza – to kick-start the campaign and highlight the benefits in a fun, informal and human way
Case study articles about the impact of ABC’s learning offering on the company intranet – highlight a human story of the learning offering.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you can see how the seven interactions come together to persuade and influence employees to get involved with learning – and prioritise their personal and professional growth.
You don't. The rule of seven is not a linear process. Your audience will not see the first touchpoint, then the second, then the third. Instead, they will go on their own journey and interact with your marketing in any order they see fit. They might not read your emails, or they might not come to your event – but they will have the opportunity to interact with your brand numerous times until they choose to engage. The power is in their hands!
The rule of seven is about more than repetition. It also highlights the importance of variety in your marketing, and relevancy of your messages. From attention-grabbing emails, eye-catching videos and fun events, the range of marketing tactics utilised ensure you cater to the different preferences of your target audience. We live in an attention economy. There is so much vying for the attention of your target audience – and if you want your marketing for learning initiatives to work, you have to be persistent and break the norms. Rome wasn’t built in a day, afterall.
One email, one time will never get your audience moving. It will never get you the learner engagement you’re praying for. And it’ll never create the performance change needed in your organisation. The rule of seven is a great way to ensure you’re not falling into old-habits. But coupling the rule of seven with the fundamentals of learning campaigns is a sure-fire way to boost engagement, and get people learning!
If you want to learn more about creating marketing for learning that really works; why not check out our LPI certified Marketing for L&D programme, that will teach you everything you need to know about marketing for learning in just 6 weeks. #Winning.