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The Battle for Mind Share: How to Beat the Noise without Creating It

November 15, 2012

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re well aware that radio stations strive to effectively advertise for their clients. While this is important, there is a prerequisite that leads to successfully advertising on behalf of others. You must first be able to successfully advertise the station itself. In this article, I will cover two basic marketing theories and how they relate to a single word: Consistency.

Scenario 1: Have you ever bought a car, and as you’re driving it home, you see that same car all over the road? Have you listened to a presentation and caught yourself counting the “um’s” and “uh’s”?1 This is the result of what’s called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is an internal information filter that determines what we cognitively pay attention to, as well as what we subconsciously ignore. It is essential in today’s world to tap into the RAS, because, depending on who you ask, we are exposed to advertisements between 250 and 3,000 times per day. Without the RAS, we would never be able to place our attention on any one thing.

This is where the first theory, the ‘Rule of Seven’ comes into play. It simply states that, due to constant ‘noise,’ we need to be exposed to a message approximately seven times in order to provoke a purchase. This number has most likely changed over the years, but more important than the exact number is the concept; consumers need to be exposed to your message many times in order to be effective. Clearly, consistency in your message can play a major role in exposing your station. By promoting your station with consistent messages, you are helping yourself and your clients reduce noise in an effort to fulfill the ‘Rule of Seven.’

Scenario 2: As quickly as you can, name aloud three fast-food chains … (McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s will be the most common response). Next, name five sneaker brands … I can almost guarantee that Nike was in your list somewhere.

The theory that you have most likely reinforced is the Positioning Theory, created by marketing experts and authors Al Ries and Jack Trout. This theory explains that we can only recall three (others argue and state five, or more) brand names in a given industry, in order of mind share. There is a constant battle between brands fighting for this mind share, and this is no different in the radio industry. Consistency is a common denominator among most of the leaders when it comes to this concept (recall McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” slogan, or Nike’s “Just do it.”). Although they make changes to keep up with the times and create variety, the base message is always consistent.

By no means is consistency within advertising a new or revolutionary concept. However, it can play a crucial, cost-effective role in reducing noise, in turn increasing the effectiveness of advertising over the airwaves. Between call letters, personalities, frequencies, and logos, your standard radio listener may get caught up in the noise, and a given message can lose its meaning. By practicing consistency within our ads and self-promotion, we can take a simple, yet important step towards fulfilling the “Rule of Seven” and Positioning Theory. After all, there aren’t too many preset buttons on a car stereo. Coincidence? Perhaps …

-Tyler Plahanski, Production Coordinator

1) Galloway, Shawn M. “Why we Fail to See Risk.” EHS Today 4.1 (2011): 18. ProQuest Central. Web. 7 Nov. 2012.
2) Ries, Al, and Trout, Jack. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001. Print.