We all like to think that we’re unique, but we’re not that different deep down. Take, for example, the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon – also known as the frequency illusion – where once we become aware of something, we see it everywhere. As marketing and salespeople, this is a quirk of the human mind that we must tap into, but how? In this blog, we’ll show you how.
Before we get into how the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon can help you, let’s take a wee look at what it is and how it can affect your audience.
Explaining the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon and frequency illusion
In short, when you notice something new, such as the make or colour of a car, a song on the radio or a fancy new pair of slippers – OK, that last one is maybe just me – you’ll all of a sudden start to see it everywhere.
This isn’t because everyone now owns the red car you like. It’s because you’re now aware of the red car. You’re switched onto it.
The fact you’ve now heard of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon or frequency illusion means you’ll start coming across it again.
The naming of the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon is an interesting story worthy of a QI question.
In 1986, a man called Terry Mullen first heard of a West German far-left militant organisation known as the Baader-Meinhof Group. After stumbling across the group for the first time, he then started to reencounter the term time and time – even though the group hadn’t been active since the 70s.
Mullen wrote to a newspaper – the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota – where his experience was detailed in one of their columns. This effect struck a chord and soon readers were writing in with their own similar stories of deja vous like encounters.
Soon after, the effect was called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.1
“OK, so that’s all well and good. But, how can I use that to drive my marketing and sales?” I hear you ask. Well, there are several ways the Baader-Meinhoff Phemonon can help you target audiences and their purchases.
So, let’s look a bit more at how using psychology can help your marketing and sales funnels
1 / Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
Let’s start with the obvious one – you need to get your message out there. “No shit, sherlock!”
There’s a world of noise you need to breakthrough, and when you do, your message needs to stick. Keep in mind that for Baader-Meinhoff to work, a customer must initially find something interesting enough to notice.
My slipper infatuation started with a well crafted Facebook ad that made me think, “They look like the kind of cool slippers I could get on board with.” Which meant I clicked the link and visited their site.
After that visit, their remarketing cookies kicked in and I saw a follow-up ad the next few times I visited Facebook. After that, all other slippers just wouldn’t do. I’m now on my second pair of slippers…
Along with remarketing, you’ll also want to look at spreading your message across as many mediums – social, TV, billboards, radio, etc. – as your budget and resources allow.
Now, the point isn’t to just blast your message everywhere and anywhere. That’s just not sustainable. Instead, you need to have a good understanding of who your receptive audience is and where they are.
When you have that, you can make informed choices and use your budget wisely.
2 / Understand behavioural types
A behavioural type is simply how an individual is acting at any one time, such as trusting. A person who is trusting cooperates in activities and likes to collaborate.
When it comes to marketing and sales, we have three behavioural types.
Thinker / Someone who is internally directed and likes to make and take ownership of decisions by themselves – 13% of people.
Responsder / People who respond to kicks and are triggered by the default marketing message, such as early adopters – 17% of people.
Follower / Represents the vast majority of people – 70% – who like to follow the actions of others. This is the glue in the network, as copying is the strongest behaviour.
There’s nuance to these types where we all exhibit these behaviours at some point, but we generally sit within the follower tag. This means we get all our good ideas and validation from people we trust.
How does that translate into marketing and sales?
Well, to have a successful campaign, you – or at least your product or service – have to be inside someone’s subconscious before they will react to you and your messaging.
As the majority of us take our lead from others, you have to get into a subconscious via a trusted source. Going direct won’t work most of the time.
This leads me on nicely to social proofing.
3 / Social proofing
If you’re new to marketing, read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s a must-read for anyone wanting to be a successful marketer.
In this book, Cialdini coins the phrase social proof theory to explain how people copy the actions of others, turn to friends for guidance or buy something their neighbours have purchased first.
There are many fruitful social proofing methods when it comes to the day-to-day world of marketing.
Here are just a few.
Word of mouth
Realworld social networks are a greatly overlooked tool that can present to you some nice low hanging fruit.
Note: The cliche monitor on my Mac may be about to explode, but sometimes you have to go there… ツ
If you take a look back at the behavioural types above and match that to how the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon works, you can see how you can start to make a positive impact on your campaigns.
This is not a new angle, either – it’s how the big tech giants grew – as the most powerful effects are offline.
Offline networks are also just as large and as connected as online networks. The geographic reach may not be the same, but the number of people reached – viral memes aside – is very similar.
To get a much better understanding of how network effect works and how it can supercharge your marketing, download our whitepaper today: How network theory is changing marketing.
Testimonials and customer reviews
Customer reviews have worked incredibly well for me as a marketer. They’ve helped people gain trust in the brand or product I represented. Instead of just hearing from a campaign, people can read reviews left by people just like them – good or bad.
Keep in mind, there’s no such thing as a bad review. However, there is a right and a wrong way to respond to them. Always put yourself in the shoes of the disgruntled customer and help them resolve the issue as best you can, without being condescending or not appreciating their situation.
Testimonials are also effective as they come from your customers. Although, they can often be too obviously tidied up by the marketing team or, in the worst case, made up and partnered with an obvious stock image.
Stick to real deal testimonials with good quality headshots.
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and what better way to harness it than to have your customers become ambassadors of your product.
Strava – a running and cycling tracking app – have been excellent at this by making it easy for users to share on social how well they’re doing. This encourages the user’s friends to join up with Strava too, who can then compete against their friend and other users.
Case studies have been a diehard tool for marketers for decades for one simple rule, they work. From them, prospective customers can easily see what you do, how you help similar organisations and the benefits you provide.
Nine out of 10 brands are using influencer marketing, and with an ROI of $18 for each $1 spent2, it’s easy to see why.
It’s not just clothing and accessory retailers succeeding at influencer marketing. It can work well for anyone who finds their correct niche and focus.
Meal delivery service Blue Apron worked with bloggers in 2015 to promote their brand through articles that highlighted how easy it was to use the service and how great their meals were.3
4 / Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is all about backing up beliefs people already have.
Being the excellent marketer or salesperson you are, you want to avoid negative biases, such as Scottish people are tight with money. Being Scottish, that’s always annoyed me…
Instead, you’ll focus on positive stereotypes, such as:
- Apple users are more creative
- German cars are built with a high level of expertise
- Disney staff always give excellent customer care
Apple's "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ad from 2007
Essentially, once a belief has taken hold about a brand or product, it’s hard to shake. So, if you’re able to convince your audience that you’re offering a truly unique service or product, they’ll believe it and then seek evidence to back this up.
In an ideal world
The overall effect you’re looking for is for your:
- Brand or product is top of mind when it’s time to buy
- Marketing to trigger buying behaviours
- Marketing to trigger referrals
You need to get front and centre in their mind and then stay there through correctly targeted campaigns, quality content and an attractive offer.
If finding new customers or growing your brand is causing you pain, the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon could be your problem. Using marketing network effects can help you solve it.
To help you find your audience, GDlabs can superpower your targeting to show you where your brand is most likely to be successful. Speak with one of our data today to find out how the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomena can boost your marketing and sales funnels.