Agriculture Communication


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The Rule of Seven

The Rule of SevenSept. 5, 2019 - I recently judged the 4-H Beef Showmanship contest at the Minnesota State Fair. More than 550 contestants showed their animals in 38 classes. After each class, I asked the observers to honor the contestants with a round of applause as they exited the ring.

After about 12 classes, I sounded like a broken record and started to second guess whether I should keep asking the crowd to applaud.  My marketing and branding background quickly took over when I realized that even though I was saying the same thing over and over again, my audience was changing each time. As new contestants entered the show ring, new audience members sat down on the bleachers to watch. I could see the look of pride on the faces of parents, grandparents, 4-H leaders and friends, as they clapped for their chosen contestant. I learned that day that even though I was tired of saying the same thing over and over, my changing audience was hearing it for the first time.

The Rule of Seven is a marketing principle that says a potential customer needs to see or hear our marketing message at least seven times before they take action.

The same principle applies to our NDSU marketing and branding messages. It can feel uncreative and repetitive to use the same green and yellow color scheme and the same branded templates each time we create a promotional piece for a program or field day, but many times our audience is new and/or hasn’t noticed our message.

For example, let’s look at seven different ways an NDSU Research Extension Center could market and brand an upcoming field day:

  1. An NDSU-branded flyer posted at local agricultural businesses
  2. An NDSU-branded postcard sent to past field day participants
  3. A post on the REC’s Facebook page with a photo or graphic
  4. A news release sent to local media
  5. Asking the field day’s presenters to share about the event on their social media channels
  6. A blog post on the REC’s webpage
  7. Using NDSU-branded PowerPoint templates during the field day

Though we can’t guarantee that one person will see all of these marketing messages, we can hope a combination of these methods would help a potential field day participant make the connection that it is an NDSU event, choose to come to the event, and understand that NDSU research scientists, specialists and staff helped contribute to the educational experience.

The NDSU branding guidelines and the NDSU Extension branded templates are great resources to help you better market and brand our information.

Remember, just because we are familiar with NDSU doesn’t mean our audiences are familiar with all the programs and information we provide. We have to be diligent about helping them make the connection and subsequently recognizing the value and impact of our work.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-6136

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