Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Image: © Shutterstock

Image: © Shutterstock

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

If you have ever read the back of a shampoo bottle, and you know you have, the directions say “lather, rinse, repeat.” There are a couple reasons for that. One, the shampoo people would like you to use as much shampoo as possible because selling shampoo is how they make money. Two, they know you are going to miss some spots the first time.

Effective frequency hard to pinpoint

Your marketing plan should include a whole lot of “lather, rinse, repeat.” One, because you want to make money. Two, because I can tell you right now that most people need to read, hear or see something more than once for it to sink in. I have spoken before about “effective frequency.” Effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made and before exposure is considered wasteful, according to Wikipedia. It is also a controversial subject because there is no exact number of times for a message to reach effective frequency. We know that it is almost always takes more than one exposure. “Lather, rinse, repeat.”

Twenty ‘lathers’ to success

You have probably never heard of Thomas Smith. Thomas Smith is the author of Successful Advertising. It was written in 1885. Here is a truncated version but Thomas Smith thinks it takes at least 20 “lathers” before someone will buy what you are selling:

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.

The second time, they don’t notice it.

The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”

The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.

The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.

The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.

The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.

The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

Busier than ever

Elizabeth Mansfield


Thomas Smith wrote this in 1885. Do you think your life today, peoples’ lives today, are busier than they were in 1885? I am pretty sure you said yes. You probably think you are busier and you know you are bombarded with more information, marketing messages and advertising today than anyone in 1885 could possibly have been. So instead of worrying about whether you are boring people with information about your company and your services or fretting over whether you sound like a broken record when you remind your patients about the importance of cleaning their sockets or worrying that you will offend your customers by including reminders about return policies or order deadlines, remember that you can count off Thomas Smith’s 20 times or you can “lather, rinse, repeat.”

For more information:
Smith T. Successful Advertising, 7th edn, 1885.
Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at

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