Baader Meinhof Phenomenon, also known as the Frequency Illusion, happens when you come across something that’s unusual on many occasions, all within a short period of time.
Let’s give you an example. You’ve been looking for a new car for several months and finally, make your purchase. Let’s imagine, after much deliberation, you decided to buy a new red car. You rarely saw one on the road before buying one, but after you made your purchase, they started appearing everywhere you went. This is all because of something called the Baader Meinhof Phenomenon.
It’s more commonly known as the Frequency Illusion. It’s a feeling you get that something is happening more often than before. The truth is that it’s not occurring more frequently. The difference is that you’re now paying more attention to that particular thing.
During any single day, your mind has to produce a tremendous amount of information. There’s so much to process that our minds tend to filter it. If it didn’t, your brain would be completely overwhelmed. And let’s face it, do we really need to take everything that we see?
The Baader Meinhof phenomenon was originally discovered by Terry Mullen in 1994. He decided to write a letter to a newspaper column where he stated that he had first heard of the Baader–Meinhof Group, and then shortly after other readers continued to submit their own similar experiences and quoting the name as the description and thus it became known as the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon.
The additional term "frequency illusion" was named in 2006 by Arnold Zwicky.
What happens when we notice something more often, thanks to the frequency illusion, is that we tend to think it’s important, even if it’s not. This is called confirmation bias.
As humans, we tend to interpret things a certain way to confirm what we believe to be true. If, for example, you believe a plant-based diet is the only sensible way to eat, you will seek out information to support that belief and be more naturally inclined to remember details that back up your opinion rather than any facts that don’t.
It’s possible to make good use of these ideas in a marketing strategy. Isn’t your strategy’s aim to get your brand into potential customers’ heads, after all? Once the concept is firmly planted, you can reaffirm beliefs with advertising.
If you have a unique selling point that’s memorable, it will help. It doesn’t seem to matter if your competitors are already doing it because you’ve made the point first, and people are then more likely to make the association with your brand.
You can influence potential customer decisions in three ways.
Frequency Illusion and Repetitive Marketing
To use the phenomenon to your advantage, it’s important to get your brand message out there whenever possible. In order for it to work, your product has to be noticed. Start your ad campaign with a strong message, a headline that grabs people’s attention, and images to match.
Now that you’ve got people’s brains paying attention, you spread your message far and wide using various platforms, including TV, radio stations, social media, and billboards. Make sure you choose platforms that your customer base associate with.
Two very effective strategies are to use retargeting and paid online advertising. Both of these will ensure your frequency-illusioned potential customers see you everywhere they look.
Frequency Illusion and Social Proof Theory
What is Social Proof Theory? It is an effective method for convincing customers to buy a product because when humans don’t know how to act or what to think, they tend to imitate their peers or turn to others for guidance.
To convince customers who are hesitant, you can use testimonials, customer reviews, and persuasive statements such as “nine out of ten mothers recommend......”
Frequency Illusion and Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is a way of convincing customers to buy your products instead of competitors. It means that when a customer looks for evidence to confirm something they already know or believe (that your product is better than others), they’ll be able to find it. This applies even if the evidence is neutral on the whole.
If you’re able to create an irresistible campaign and let potential customers know why your product is better, confirmation bias and the Baader Meinhof Phenomenon will do the rest.