The 7 hours rule: How to create lifetime fans of your brand.
There are no quick fixes, but there are powerful tools out there.
I recently read Daniel Priestley’s book “Oversubscribed”. I was intrigued by a concept called the 7 hours rule. Or that’s what I am calling it anyway.
The 7 hours rule says someone must spend at least 7 hours with your brand to become a lifetime fan.
This applies for any brand people spend time with such as TV shows, department stores, news websites, etc. After 7 hours of Vsauce’s videos I will be consistently looking forward to new ones. Eight episodes in to Breaking Bad and you may as well stick around to see how it’s going to play out, right? After 7 hours invested you’re at least recommending the content to others.
How does this apply to me?
You may not have the resources to create hour long episodes of a hit TV show, or a 20 minute science extravaganza. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the resources for more modest pieces of content: blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc.
As an example: 2 minute facebook videos.
For sake of easy numbers we are going to make a lot of assumptions and keep things conceptual.
You have a few hundred likes to your facebook page, half of which are active users. Posting your video gets you a few hundred views. In a somewhat ideal world, a good chunk of those viewers are going to watch the next video too. And on top of that, they might check out your facebook page, website, blog, etc.
Time spent watching your video is time spent with your brand.
Lets assume your first video has 100 engaged viewers. If you’re releasing a 2 minute video each week, engaged users will scroll through your feed and check out your other channels: website, blog, and other social media. Thanks to Facebook’s algorithms, the more someone engages with your brand, the more your content is displayed front and center.
It’s not hard to imagine your viewers spending 10 minutes with your brand on a weekly basis.
10 minutes a week For 42 weeks (~10 months), and you have at least 100 very engaged, very loyal people.
The growing trust of your followers leads to sharing of your content to new users. With an ever growing backlog of content, new users have more content to engage with. Now we begin to see how the getting to 1000 true fans happens. But for now, let’s focus on our 100.
A year of consistent, quality, and engaging content.
Imagine a month or so into this process you begin releasing longer form content, such as 30 minute podcasts. Now each time a user listens to your podcast, you are making a 7% dent in their 7 hours needed for a lifetime of trust. That’s pretty awesome! Releasing weekly you could establish a raving fan base in ~14 weeks.
Why are these 7 hours so important?
If you’re selling a product, you must establish trust first. By creating content that adds value for no cost, you are building trust with people. You’re saying “Hey look, whether you believe me or not right now, I care about you.”
Early on in the quest for 7 hours, you build up enough trust with the users known as early adopters. They may spend 30 minutes with your brand and trust you enough to buy, so you make a few sales. Not enough sales for sustainability. Early adopters are a small minority of users.
The next group of users have spent a few hours with your brand. Now we see engaged users who you’ve built trust with. They are seeking out a solution to their problems and hopefully you have the solution! If your marketing is well targeted this may be when you hit sustainability. But this group may still be too small.
The magic number: 7 hours.
Remember those 100 engaged users? At this point they have become raving fans. Sharing anything you produce and wholeheartedly repeating your message to others. You have 100 powerful marketers now, freely marketing your brand for you.
As you may know, word of mouth is the most effective marketing. Building trust takes time, but when talking to family or friends there is a certain level of trust that has already been met. When one raving fans meets up with her friends and talks about your brand you are circumventing hours of time needed to build their trust.
When trust imbued users come to see your website, they will find hours of content just waiting to be consumed. This evidence that your brand is willing to build trust with others pervades your online presence, inherently fueling the trust you are needing to build.
The 7 hours rule isn’t magical by any stretch, but it is powerful.
The power comes from the milestone by which it marks. 7 hours of time is an achievable number, though not entirely easy. A new brand can expect to spend a full year building up to that number with a generally small number of users. But in the scheme of things, a year of hard work is the foundation for a lasting company.
Perhaps your company is well on its way, or perhaps you’ve just gotten started. While you stare into the abyss, perhaps the rule of 7 hours will help guide you to where you wish to be. A year may seem like a daunting amount of time, or it may seem trivial. In any case, a year of hard work is an attainable goal for any new venture, and I encourage you to find and use tools like these to drive you forward.
I know I have been very rough with my numbers and calculations, but I hope that the concept of 7 hours made sense to you as it did to me. It is not a silver bullet, but it does provide some illumination for those daring enough to stare into the abyss.
Thanks for reading,