The power of repetition

In the age of information overload, we naturally tend to gravitate towards acquiring new information rather than repeating or revisiting the ones we already know. This constant urgency to seek out new ideas can seriously affect the process of learning.

We pay a heavy price for our lack of interest in rehearsing lessons and ideas. There are all kinds of things we badly need to keep in our minds: the better parts of our nature that speak to us of being patient, of remaining gentle, of striving for forgiveness, of pausing to appreciate, of straining to understand what at first seems unbearably foreign.

That’s one lesson we can learn from religions. Just like how religions emphasize on repeating rituals on a regular basis, we can revisit and repeat those ideas to rewire ourselves for better.

We need to steal the idea of repetition from religions – and create our catechisms, our midnight prayers, our cycles of rehearsed knowledge. We need to make the most important ideas vivid in our minds on a constant basis. We should never be done with school. We should daily be re-immersed in the great truths: that we will die, that we must understand ourselves, that we must love, that others are sad rather than mean.

Many of us are done with religion; but we shouldn’t be done with what religions knew so well of our minds: that nothing stays active in them unless we rehearse and repeat with every new dawn.

This applies to how we run businesses and do marketing as well.

There’s a lot to be said for conditioning your audience to listen carefully. If they know that valuable information is only going to come at them once, they’ll be more alert for it.

Alas, as the nois-o-sphere gets noisier still, this approach is hard to justify.

Repetition increases the chance that you get heard.

Repetition also increases (for a while) the authority and believability of what you have to say. Listeners go from awareness of the message to understanding to trust.

However, the frequency or repetition should not be used for merely gaining attention or spamming that can cause annoyance. It should be used for actually delivering value to our customers.

Delivering your message in different ways, over time, not only increases retention and impact, but it gives you the chance to describe what you’re doing from several angles.

In many ways, the mantra of permission conflicts with the mechanics of frequency. If people are loaning you their attention and you’re delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages, your need for frequency goes way down.

If you’re using frequency as a tactic to make up for the fact that you’re being ignored, you can certainly do better.

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