March 1, 2021
Classic Concepts for Marketing Mastery
The true purpose of any author is to have the reader
remember their work.
Maybe not the whole work, but at least a part of it, which
the reader takes with them and, like a seed, spreads to others.
From a scholarly mindset, this is how ideas implant
themselves into society and grow to bear fruits of deep thought, intellectual
revolution, and societal change. Deep.
From a marketing mindset, these words should encourage the
reader to take action. Click the link. Subscribe to the newsletter. Buy the
We writers of all fields have a few time-proven techniques
up our lexical sleeves. Tricks, if you will, to get ideas to stick into the
minds of our readers.
Here are three.
Repetition has been a successful technique in marketing
since day one. And it just makes sense, since repetition is how we learn.
Language, walking, potty training —all mastered due to repetition. All learned
by repeating the same thing over and over and over and over.
Marketers need you to learn their products and services. To
do that, they need you to see their message over and over. It’s called effective
frequency—how many times you need to see something before its message is
In 1885, Thomas Smith wrote his guide Successful Advertising. In it, he posited that a customer has to interact 20 times with an advertising message before deciding to buy. But we live in the future. Those 20 viewings have evolved into the often-cited Rule of Seven. Only seven interactions with a message are needed for us. (Though, just like with any learning, it’s really a personal experience, especially the exact number of repetitions needed.)
And repetition isn’t just a message over time. It can be
repeating a word or phase in the same message. “Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh,
what a relief it is.” Alka Seltzer repeated words to make your mind learn their
marketing faster. (They also tricked you into taking two times the effective
dose so you’d have to buy more!)
But repetition doesn’t act alone. Repetition doesn’t act
alone. Sometimes, as in the “Plop, plop” example, it has help from its friend
Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in a phrase,
specifically the initial consonant sound. The title of this blog post is a
short example of alliteration: Classic Concepts for Marketing Mastery.
Alliteration makes a phrase memorable by including
repetition in the very structure of phrase. And boy do marketers love
alliteration. From tag lines to product names, alliteration is everywhere.
History time! Alliteration is a literary device that
actually goes back thousands of years. It’s an important part of Sanskrit
shlokas (poems which form the building blocks of Indian epic verse). It was also
popular in Old English epics (Beowulf,
anyone?), traditional Turkic metered texts (bonus alliteration FTW), and even
in given names (9th and 10th century kings and saints seem to follow alliterative principles).
But back to the present and advertising. Dr. Lyon’s Tooth
Powder loved alliterating in the 1930s with their tag line: Do as Your
Dentist Does. Really sticks in your brain (hopefully as well as the product
cleaned your teeth).
But as previously mentioned, alliteration doesn’t just stop
at marketing talk. Alliterative product and business names are also all the
rage: Dunkin’ Donuts. Krispy Kreme. Tater Tots. Kit Kat, M&Ms, Cap’n
Crunch. Hungry yet?
Think of alliteration as the percussive pounding of parlance
that pins the product, company, or message to your brain.
Mnemonics are, quite simply, techniques to help you remember
things (Mnemosyne being the Ancient Greek goddess of memory). They also have
existed for a very long time, being favorites of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Sir
Mnemonics come in many flavors. There are acronyms (like ROY
G. BIV for remember the order of the colors of a rainbow), phrases (“Richard Of
York Gave Battle In Vain” — also the colors of a rainbow), and a few other
types that we don’t remember (that’s a joke).
One of the most used mnemonics in advertising is the musical
mnemonic. You know what a musical mnemonic is even if you’ve never heard the
term. The tiny, musical earworm that crawls from a commercial into your head. That’s
right: the jingle.
Jingles are insidious in how well they are remembered. The
pairing of music and words connects more parts of our brain as the new
information being stored. And the thicker the web of connections, the easier it
is for our brains to recall. The music, however, is key to these mnemonics
working, as it adds that secret sauce which seems to help our brains pull out
memories. (This has been further researched with stroke
victims, and the music was shown to be the one thing that aided memory
Just like repetition and alliteration, musical mnemonics
have been around forever—maybe since the first person sang of their wares at a
street market. These short songlets continued throughout human history and
found a renaissance when radio became king. Since everything was aural in the
new medium (and a war was going on, occupying a lot of conscious thought),
songs and musical mnemonics became a vital means of communication (and, of
And then television was born, replicated and built on all
the successes from radio, and here we are. Musical mnemonics are here to stay
(sing that, and you’ll remember it longer). And, get this: they often
incorporate alliteration and repetition.
Write the right alliterative musical mnemonic with enough
repetition in it, and you’ll have a hat trick of marketing excellence that is
time-tested and tried-and true. Use them all. Use them all. Use them all! Then
you, too, can say, “I’m lovin’ it.”