This One Great Media Deception Is Spreading Your Jelly Too Thin On Your Marketing Toast

spreading your message to thin in marketing

There are millions of eyeballs watching the Super Bowl.

A mountain of earholes listening to NPR podcasts.

An ocean of optic nerves pointed at the New York Times.

Seven semi-trucks of auditory receptors hearing the local zany morning radio show.

So what?

Getting your ad in front of the most people is the top priority of businesses. But it should be the third thing on your list.

Number one on your list should be how many times you can get into those eyeballs and earholes. If you have to choose between talking to 100 people once or 50 people four times, pick the latter. Every time.

Advertising, at its most basic, is a memory game. You remember the things that are repeated often:

  • Lyrics to a song
  • Your PIN number
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Dance moves

In advertising, when it’s time for me to buy a refrigerator, what brand do I remember?

Memory pathways are strengthened only by repetition and relevance. The exception to that rule are rare events so profound they only had to happen once:

  • The Miracle on Ice
  • September 11, 2001
  • The first Black president
  • Accidentally seeing your grandmother naked

Your business will never be as compelling as that list, so you need to focus your energy on frequency.


How much advertising can you buy so you can get to the SAME eyes and ears repetitively and relentlessly? Like any relationship, it will take several dates before someone falls in love with your business. If you “play the field” and date as many people as possible, you will never “make the sale.”

So far, the order of things to consider are:

#1: Repetition. How many times can you get your message to the same customer?

#3: Audience size. How many potential customers can you reach?

Between those two considerations comes a target segment. A segment is a collection of people with the traits that qualify them to be potential customers.

This is NOT the same as (infernally useless) demographics. Stop asking about demographics and stop letting people tell you about demographics. The amount of usable advertising information you can get from demographics is borderline nonexistent.

Think of a segment as like-minded customers.

Homeowners are 100% likely to have plumbing.

People with stomachs are 100% likely to get hungry during the day.

Bras will most likely be purchased by women.

“But ‘people with stomachs’ could be anybody!


And it’s quite possible that your restaurant is perfectly suited for anybody with a stomach. It’s also possible that your restaurant is more suited for anybody with a stomach who is a “foodie.” Now you have information about who is… and who ISN’T your customer. Build your message accordingly.

Segmentation is thorny and weird (can ya tell?) and I’ll dive deeper into that in a few weeks.

Let’s stick with this point:

Don’t worry about how many people you’re speaking to until you know how often you can speak to them. Your goal today is to kick up your repetition until some people can’t forget about you.

We’ll get to the “other” people later.

Let’s win the ones you can win.