Tootsie Roll Pop Owl
Do you remember the owl in the Tootsie Roll Pop commercials?

The gimmick was “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”

He made an impression on me (although I never bought nor consumed these candies). They imbued him with smarts with his mortar board wardrobe and ability to count (all the way to 3 licks)!

What probably made the greatest impression upon me all those many years ago (so that I still remember the product today) was simply the enormous number of times the commercial ran on TV. Kids, of course, don’t tire of the repetition of commercials and reruns.

The end effect is that all those viewings made me remember it (and possibly buy it). That is what the seller is hoping for.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the TV, radio, print ad or a networking event. (This is part of what makes social media so popular is its ability to provide near continual impressions of the brand on potential buyers – even when you’re not overtly selling something and just ‘helping’ online.) What matters is racking up all those impressions, from the ad running on morning TV shows, to the newspaper’s ad (that you now read online). Then it’s off to the office in your car and you hear about the product on your car radio. You pass a bus with an ad displayed across its side for the product; you see a billboard along the route. You get the drift….

How many impressions does it take before a prospect will remember your brand, or buy your product? …3?  …7? …More? Let’s take a look at a little scenario:

  1. The first time a man looks at an ad, he doesn’t see it.
  2. The second time, he doesn’t notice it.
  3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
  4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it.
  5. The fifth time, he reads the ad.
  6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
  7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh, brother!”
  8. The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
  9. The ninth time, he wonders whether it amounts to anything.
  10. The tenth time, he will ask his neighbor if he has tried it.
  11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
  12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
  13. The thirteenth time, he thinks it might be worth something.
  14. The fourteenth time, he remembers that he wanted such a thing for a long time.
  15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
  16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it someday.
  17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum of it.
  18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
  19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
  20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys the article or instructs his wife to do so.

If you think this case study is an anomaly for the length of time and number of impressions required to move a prospect from awareness to purchase, you’re right. That story was written by Thomas Smith, in London, England, in 1885. (Now you know why some of that language was a bit out of date!)

But this 125-year old premise on impressions remains true today. At the very best, it takes a minimum of seven (7) impressions before a prospect will buy or become a warm lead. (Many marketers set the minimum at 21, and up to 50, impressions before you can expect action by the buyer.)

Remember, just because prospects don’t start ringing your phone off the hook doesn’t mean that your marketing plan won’t work. Good marketing campaigns take considerable time to see a dramatic return-on-investment (ROI). Be patient and commit to it for the long haul!