If any of my family members or close friends are making Anzac biscuits, they always make it a point to call me. Why? Because the first time I made it for my daughter’s birthday, I made quite the impression (so they say).
I was quite the sensation on Facebook after one of my friends posted about it and everyone poured in with lovely comments (It was certainly gratifying to be recognised for something that’s not part of my job!).
I remember visiting the Coles close to home the next day, and noticed that all kinds of baked cookies were on sale. I also noticed that there were plenty of pre-made cookie mixes on offer.
To top that off, I was quite amused when I noticed advertisements on TV that had anything to do with baked goods. I felt like the universe was sending me not-so-subtle hints.
Well, according to psychologists, this is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon at play.
It’s not that there are more baked goods in the world since I received compliments about my baking; but that I noticed products and advertisements that had to do with these more.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is also known as the ‘frequency illusion’, and it’s a cognitive bias that explains how a name, word or thing that has come to our attention recently appears with improbable frequency shortly afterwards. That is to say, you see it everywhere.
Logically, that thing always existed, but you were unaware of it until that moment. Let’s unpack what this means for marketing.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon works subconsciously
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when the brain is exposed to a new piece of information and begins noticing it everywhere. Also called the recency bias, there are two reasons why this phenomenon works the way it does.
The first is selective attention, which means your brain is subconsciously seeking out more information on the subject.
The second is confirmation bias, which means every time you see something related to the subject, your brain tells you that it’s proof the subject has gained popularity overnight.
This phenomenon demonstrates the importance of nurturing
Why: If you’re a marketer, I’m sure you know how incredibly important it is to nurture your customers or audience. As a brand, your goal should be to be the first thing that pops into your customer’s mind when they’re presented with something related to what you do.
Ever hear someone say, “You’re the first person that came to mind” when they were thinking about something? If you can position your brand at that level within your industry, how convenient would that be?
With the help of psychological phenomenons like Baader-Meinhof, this becomes an easier task. All you have to do is nurture your audience.
How: Focus your marketing efforts on letting potential customers know you exist through content that sparks interest and makes them question how they ever survived without your product or service.
Then, nurture them through tactics like targeted emails, retargeting ad campaigns, and ad boosts on social media.
The trick is to get into their heads so they notice you; you can let the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon do the rest.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon and confirmation bias go hand-in-hand
Why: Like I mentioned earlier, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon works for two reasons—selective attention and confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is a tactic that can be used to convince customers to buy from your company over your competitors. Essentially, confirmation bias means someone looks for evidence to confirm what they already believe, even when that evidence is neutral.
Once you’ve opened the door to a thought, it’s much easier to open it over and over again. Why confirmation bias works well with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is because it reinforces the suspicions that are already in your mind.
How: Always portray your brand in a positive light. I talked about how negative priming can affect all your marketing efforts in a recent post and discussed why a positive brand image is important.
Once the idea of your brand is in their minds, use advertising to reaffirm their beliefs about you. Make your unique selling point(s) memorable. Even if it’s something that everyone else is doing, if you’re the first to be explicit about it, people will associate it with your brand.
Clarity and positivity are critical to leveraging the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon successfully
This frequency illusion occurs on its own, but without a strong marketing foundation, you can’t reap the benefits of this psychological phenomenon.
When you’re working on your content to reach your audience, make sure you formulate a clear and positive brand message with clear benefits.
This means that you need to make a genuine effort if you want to see this phenomenon at play. Strive to be the Nike of athleisure or the Ben and Jerry of ice creams. Leave your brand on top when consumers are making purchase decisions.
I’m not going to change careers and become a home baker, but it has been great being exposed to this world of baking 🙂