15 Exposures

Let’s say you’ve decided to go workout at the local gym. You pick up one of the free weights in your right hand. You lift it, and curl your arm. You relax it, and put the weight down. Then you leave the gym. Your workout is over.

Not much of a workout, was it?  If that was your routine, even if you did it once a day, how long do you think it would take until you see results?

Then why do many schools send out “a” mailing, and then wonder why it had no effect? Or put up one billboard on a seldom traveled road because it didn’t cost a lot, and wonder why no one calls the school? Maybe the one billboard is close to a well-travelled road where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. Here’s the conversation in the car – “Hey, there’s a billboard for that Catholic school. Let me write down that number. Honey, can you write that number down since I’m driving?” “Um, I don’t have a pen handy, but the number is 453-3..oh, we passed it. Oh well.”

Hopefully, those interested parents will travel that road again. But what if they went down that road, and when they turned on to their street, there was a lawn sign advertising your school. Then, when they got to their front door, there was a cardboard hanger there announcing the date of your open house with your phone number. The next day, their mailbox holds that mailing you sent.

After those four exposures, you might have that family call the school. But if they’re pre-disposed against your school, it’ll take another ELEVEN exposures just to maybe get them to change their minds.

It used to take about three exposures to something new to do that – of course, that’s when there were only three or four television stations in the average market, and things like cell phones and the Internet didn’t exist. In recent times, that number has increased to five, then to seven, and, 5 years ago, the number increased to about nine exposures. With more and more media channels, smartphones, tablet computers, and a new social media network being launched what seems like every day, there’s more and more things that can draw attention away from the message that your school wants to promote in the marketplace.

With more and more voices that are struggling to be heard, many blend with others to create the noise that drowns out messages from those businesses, organizations, and that have been considered to be the market leaders. So what happens? Market leaders spend more money to create more messages, while those that don’t have significant financial resources to do so wonder what to do.

The solution? You need to increase the number of voices presenting a consistent message in the mix within the resources you currently have. In practical terms, this means that your school needs to have “raving fans” – customers (that is, parents of current student, parents of alumni, alumni and community members) that will extol the remarkable qualities about your school on a number of social media platforms. This is the most significant reason why your school needs to be immersed in social media today. You just can’t do it alone from a central point of origin anymore. Your school can produce excellent marketing materials like brochures and waterfall folders, have an engaging and responsive Web site, and use yard signs and door hangers as exposure tools, but the point is that all that stuff is created by your school, and to do more, you need to expend, as well as spend, more resources…resources which you may not have at your disposal.

Therefore, because you have to increase the amount of “reps” you message gets in the market, you have to rely on your “raving fans” to be the “fifth element” in your marketing mix, sharing their enthusiasm not only in the marketplace through word of mouth advertising, but also by posting it on social media networks.

Close to 25 years ago, I worked for a leadership training company. Their training programs were six to twelve weeks long. Each program contained between three and six cassettes (remember those?) with weekly lesson on each side of the cassette. Every weekly lesson was 30 minutes in length, to be listened to once in the morning, and once in the evening (it was suggested that listening be done on the commute to and from work). That means each lesson was listened to 10 times a week. If training meant being exposed to a message 10 times in order for it to begin to take root that long ago, that number has certainly been raised to 20 or 25 times a week.

Going back a little further, there was a television show about 45 years ago that had a song which was sung while doing push-ups. Its first line: “Push up every morning – ten times. Not just now and then.”

Of course, we could go way back to the time of Origen and the origins of Lectio Divina, and to the Rule of St. Benedict, who formalized the practice in the Benedictine communities by praying 7 times per day, plus a little after midnight.

But let’s bring it back to today – to the classroom. Do your teachers present the concept of addition on Monday, subtraction on Tuesday, multiplication on Wednesday, division on Thursday and then test students on their understanding on Friday? Spaced repetition is key to learning new concepts, and repeated exposure is necessary to affect the mind to simply start to be open to learning more.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2014 (Original Publication Date: 20090420)