The frequency illusion: it sounds like something out of the Magic Circle. But far from suggesting you start pulling tricks on your customers, The Media Group’s MD, Jon Gordon, shares some interesting ideas on how you can use it to get your target audience hooked on your brand, and improve your marketing campaigns.
It’s perhaps ironic that I frequently forget the name of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (BMP), but I never forget the power of the marketing technique that bears this name. The phrase, more often referred to as the frequency illusion, describes what happens when you learn about something for the first time, and then start to see it everywhere.
It’s like when you’re thinking of buying a new car. You set your sights on a new Audi, then suddenly you start to see it at every traffic light, in every TV ad – even parked in your neighbour’s driveway.
There’s an explanation. The cars have always been there – you just weren’t aware of them before. They didn’t mean anything to you. But now you’ve sparked your brain’s interest in this new, exciting thing, your selective attention goes into overdrive. I’m convinced it’s the reason I buy crisps in petrol stations (nothing to do with me being a greedy so-and-so).
So, now that you understand how this phenomenon works, here’s how you can use it to your advantage to push your marketing activity,
To trigger the frequency illusion, you need to make your potential customers aware of your product in the first place. Distinctive headlines and vibrant images are important. Short, sharp hooks are best here – video is very powerful on lots of different channels.
To be successful you must make your audience feel strong emotions. Making them feel just ‘something’ won’t do. Why? It’s because people are better at remembering content that causes them to react strongly.
So ask yourself, do your headlines and content delivery grab the user’s attention in a way they’ll remember? Does it make them feel excited, alert, intrigued, happy or even angry?
This is where real impact will happen.
To make the frequency illusion more effective, combine it with complimentary techniques.
For example, social proofing uses other people’s opinions to build trust. So try testimonials, reviews, user-generated content and teaming up with influencers. A simple ‘like and share’ on social will go a long way.
Confirmation bias is effective. Once you’ve told them why your product is so good, target audiences again to support your claims, such as X% of people preferred brand X, to really solidify their opinion of your brand.
Encourage people to seek you out, to find out further information because they feel they don’t know enough yet. Campaign content like teaser posts on social media are an example here – directing your target customers toward supporting campaign messages, product or website.
It’s about finding legitimate, credible reasons to engage and re engage with people to allow them to recognise, recall and remember you – without annoying them in the process.
Now that your audience is paying attention, you can further pull the illusion strings by spreading your message across various platforms – it’s about finding where your customers are, and creating content that works best on a particular channel.
Each day we’re exposed to thousands of pieces of information, but we can only focus on a select few – imagine if we didn’t – we’d never get anything done. Research has proven that the more someone is exposed to a product, the more likely they are to buy it.
With this in mind, to make a significant impact in your campaigns you should be exposing your audience to your brand through different channels, repeatedly and consistently.
Saying just one thing often makes what you say more effective. But that shouldn’t mean saying the same thing over and over again. The challenge is to get creative and discover new ways to get your brand and message out there.
For me this is a fun side of marketing. I love BMP (betcha can’t remember what it stands for though). I love it because it isn’t about spamming everyone, endlessly. It’s about making targeted, efficient and creative marketing. It’s about caring about your customer and audience, thinking hard about what makes them tick and knowing about what they want. And then it’s about delivering your messaging in a way that makes the people you care about remember you. Give it a go next time you’re planning a campaign.
Got a great proposition, an awesome product, or a winning campaign idea that you know would fly, if only people new about it? We’d love to hear about it. Talk to our creative makers today about how we could help you use the frequency illusion to hit your marketing goals.