Make Every Message Stick: 3 Reasons Why Repetition Means Everything in Thought Leadership
Most B2B tech companies approach written thought leadership like this:
- Identify a great idea.
- Write about it once.
- Move on to the next thing.
If you’re doing that, you risk failing to reach, persuade, or convert your target audience.
Some of the most effective PR and marketing programs take one message and say it many times, many ways, in many venues. The impact is a bit like a sax solo in a jazz song: it’s a variation on a simple theme, but in the end, it’s those couple of measures that get stuck in your head.
Wary about repeating yourself? Here, I’ll offer three reasons why repetition is essential to effective thought leadership.
1. Repetition Makes Your Message Stickier
When I was a kid, my mom listened to a lot – and I mean a lot – of talk radio. One of her favorite listens: money expert Clark Howard’s self-titled show.
Clark Howard gave a lot of great financial advice. Time and time again, though, he’d return to a single theme: it’s never too early to teach kids the value of a dollar.
He didn’t say that every episode. And he didn’t use the same phrasing every time. But he’d often riff on that same theme. It stuck with my mom – and she made sure it stuck with me.
That stickiness wasn’t accidental.
The more times people are exposed to a message, the better it will stick – especially when it’s repeated over days, weeks, or months. In the context of thought leadership, you can tap into the power of repetition to sear your message into the minds of your audience.
That’s crucial in a world of skimming, where key points can easily fall through the cracks. By leveraging repetition, you can ensure your message actually breaks through.
Of course, there’s a big caveat: you can only repeat a message so many times. Your readers know when things feel similar. And when it comes to repetition, everyone has a saturation point. Plus, unlike a streaming commercial or digital ad, your readers don’t have to sit or scroll through your bylines. They can simply click away.
The key, then, is to take a balanced approach to repetition. A few tips:
- Riff on big-picture themes, not details. A couple of examples from our client work: “the US is the future of green battery manufacturing” (for a battery tech startup) or “design software with empathy” (for a software consultancy). These themes clearly broadcast each brand’s values, but they’re broad enough to resonate with multiple audiences and be used in different ways.
- Aim for a sweet spot of three riffs per message across your thought leadership. Writers call this the “rule of three”: it creates a satisfying pattern in your audience’s mind without becoming too drawn out.
By striking the right balance, repetition helps your message stick.
2. Repetition Expands Your Reach
You want your thought leadership to reach many groups who might interact with your brand: potential customers, investors, employees, and partners. But even if the core concepts appeal to everyone, the exact messaging or framing might not.
Anthony Bourdain knew this inside and out.
His central philosophy – that food can bring people together across cultures and ideologies – was the undercurrent of every episode, from No Reservations to Parts Unknown. He could repackage that concept in different contexts: a French chateau, a cozy Puerto Rican kitchen, a Vietnamese homestead, etc.
Each iteration was sure to resonate with someone, and they weren’t always the same people. And over time, his audience grew.
The same logic applies to thought leadership. You can (and should!) explore a single theme across multiple pieces to maximize your reach. Maybe that looks like…
- A multi-part blog series that approaches the same theme from different angles or focuses on separate parts of the customer journey (e.g., one on the importance of empathy in healthcare software, one on the importance of empathy as a core skill for software developers, etc.).
- Contributed articles with distinct formats that target different kinds of readers (e.g., a short listicle, a medium-length how-to piece, and long-form commentary).
- Short-form LinkedIn posts that highlight key takeaways from both.
- Social media posts where you comment on relevant news stories and offer your take (which includes a version of your core message, of course).
- A podcast appearance where you get into the weeds for an expert audience.
These are only a few possibilities. Play around with your message to uncover more ways to reach your target audience.
3. Repetition Puts the “Leader” in Thought Leadership
Building authority for yourself and your brand is one of the biggest benefits of thought leadership. But as every experienced leader knows, authority is earned, not given.
Your target audience needs to hear your perspective several times before you can win them over. Just think about Mark Zuckerberg’s famous motto (“move fast and break things”) or Jeff Bezos’s saying about Amazon’s culture (“it’s always day one”).
Both concepts defied conventional business wisdom. And they had (and have) their share of detractors. But the more both leaders repeated their beliefs, the more their audiences caught on. (In Zuckerberg’s case, his motto stuck a little too well – even after an attempted pivot.)
In the context of thought leadership, repetition helps you weave your ideas into the reader’s consciousness. And the best part? The more you speak on a subject, the more fully integrated your ideas become, and the more convincing you’ll ultimately be.
That’s really powerful in an era of unusually long buying cycles. Repetition lets you use the time you have to meaningfully influence how your customers think about the thing you’re selling. What’s more, you can give your sales team endless variety in the assets they send over.
Get Stuck in Your Audience’s Heads
The best thought leadership doesn’t stick with readers for seconds or minutes. It sticks with them for years. And just like a killer sax riff, the message – and the company behind it – will bubble back up for them at their desk, on their lunch break, or on an evening run.
What’s the best way to turn your next message into an earworm? At Propllr, we’re experts at that. Let’s talk – we’d love to start a conversation.