What makes marketing challenging?

Here are some common topics any marketer scratches his head on, sooner or later.

The difficulty of communicating nowadays

One of the main task of marketers is to communicate to their target audience. But, nowadays, we live in an era of over-communication, saturated with information. Getting noticed in an ocean of information of all sorts is the paramount challenge of communication. Even if your communication is perfectly tailored for very specific and small target groups, you still will have to fight for people's time and attention.

The effective frequency

The optimal number of exposures

In an ideal world, the effective frequency would be the optimal number of exposures for a given message to make people act. In the real world, an effective frequency rarely exists, even if there might be some patterns sometimes.

You might have heard for example about the rule of 7: a prospect needs to hear or see the advertiser's message at least 7 times before they'll take action to buy that product or service. However, there is absolutely no logical or empirical proof of this.

The fundamental truth is that repetition of information is necessary but excessive repetiton is counter-productive. You have to repeat yourself. You have to remind people about your brand and your offering several times, but without saturating their attention, boring them or getting on their nerves.

The levels of relief

The number of exposures your audience needs before they act depends, first and foremost, on how relieving your offering is. For example, a business offering you instant access to electricity in your home if you're out of power can be considered as providing a high level of relief. On the other hand, a store selling jewels might be considered as providing a low level of relief.

The level of relief is quite subjective. It is perceived differently from one individual to another. However, there is an inverse correlation between the level of relief of an offering and the number of exposures a customer or user needs before he or she acts. As an example, the distribution could look something like this:

  1. High relief: 1–2 exposures.
  2. Moderate relief: 3–7 exposures.
  3. Low relief: 8–100+ exposures (much harder to forecast).

Hence the importance of targeting your audience. You should prioritize the groups that should perceive your offering as the most relieving. But finding the right frequency for your messages even for your most promising prospects is hard.


People will be willing to get and use your offering only if they can trust you. They will be able to trust you only if the information they receive about you, either directly from you or indirectly from someone else, seems trustworthy. Here are some mindsets that can help you inspire trust:

  1. Be honest/transparent.
  2. Under-promise, over-deliver.
  3. Be remarkable.
  4. Treat people the way you would like to be treated.

Any communication material you create should clearly showcase at least 1 of the 4 previous mindsets.

Being honest/transparent is tricky because there are always levels to this. A good rule to abide by would be the following: everything you say has to be true, but everything that's true doesn't have to be said. It's up to you to find a suitable balance.

"Be remarkable" is taken from Seth Godin's book "Purple Cow", which I highly recommend. Being remarkable is having the audacity to value how pleasantly different and positively unique you are.

Marketing is risky and takes time

The current era is super keen on quick tips and effortless hacks, but the reality is this: establishing a brand takes years. This makes sense because there is no possible shortcuts for inspiring trust.

Your very first marketing campaign can, of course, bring results as soon as it launches. But it's only by experimenting different marketing campaigns over time that you will be able to pass significant thresholds for your business. This implies taking risks at some point.

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