Ever wondered why a catchy jingle you heard just once gets stuck in your head?
Or why you gravitate towards brands you frequently see on social media?
That’s the power of the mere exposure effect at work.
What is the Mere Exposure Effect?
In psychology, the mere exposure effect refers to the phenomenon where people tend to develop a preference for things simply because they’re familiar with them.
Robert Zajonc, the psychologist who formalised this concept, asserted that the “more often a person is exposed to a stimulus, the more positively they evaluate that stimulus.” In simpler terms, familiarity breeds fondness.
Building Trust with Prospective Clients and Customers
When you’re running a small business or hustling as a solopreneur, you know how crucial trust is. You’re not a big corporation with an established reputation; you’re the underdog, fighting for your place in the market. And here’s where the mere exposure effect comes in handy. By consistently putting out content — be it blogs, social media posts, or videos — you start becoming a familiar face to your prospective clients. Familiarity, in this context, translates to trust.
Imagine this. You’re scrolling through LinkedIn and you see a post from a person you’ve seen sharing valuable content before. You’re much more likely to engage with it, aren’t you?
That’s because multiple exposures have made you somewhat trust this individual. You’re aware that they consistently offer value and are not a “one-hit-wonder.”
This works well if your prospecting for new business. Consider how you can leverage the mere exposure effect BEFORE you send any form of sales outreach.
One example of this, is something I did recently with a sales team.
They were using email outreach with prospects. I suggested that we include a period of engagement with prospects (manually) on LinkedIn 2–3 weeks before the outreach via email.
Their email open rates, meeting booking rates tripled.
That’s the power of the Mere Exposure Effect.
Familiarising People with Your Products or Services
You’ve got an excellent product or service, but if people don’t know about it, what’s the point? Utilising the mere exposure effect, you can familiarise people with what you offer in a non-intrusive way. You can create content that subtly includes your product or talks about the problems your service solves.
Instead of going for the hard sell, you’re nudging people toward becoming more comfortable with what you sell. And remember, the key here is consistency. One-off posts or sporadic updates won’t cut it. The mere exposure effect requires multiple exposures for the magic to happen.
We know how bad promotional content performs on social media. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post it. Promoting what you offer in clear terms and making it obvious who you can help is important. Sure, you won’t have people beating down your door, nor will it be your top performing posts, but it will give a small group of people who do pay attention an exposure how you can help.
Most people reading this need a handful of people to buy their services, by promoting your offer, just once per week, you educate your audience about how you work, who it’s for and the results it delivers.
The more people see it, the more trust they place it in, it’s a proven fact.
Elevating Your Personal Brand and Authority
Now, let’s tie this into personal branding. If you’re consistently adding value and maintaining a cohesive message across platforms, you’re also building your brand. You become the go-to expert in your field; you’re the name that pops into people’s heads when they need something in your domain. That, my friends, is the power of building authority through mere exposure.
Showing up consistently should not be contingent on whether or not your content performs. If 200 of the right people are seeing your posts on a regular basis you are planting seeds.
The truth is, it’s about making an impression, not getting impressions. Your personal brand becomes valuable when it builds trust with your ideal clients.
Now here is something uncomfortable for you.
Don’t hide your Face!
If you really want to build trust, you need to show up more. Yes you can do well designed posts with landscapes and random pictures, but to fully leverage the mere exposure effect, you need to do video.
You need to share your message and let people really connect with you.
Use your photos and videos to make sure people connect with you not just your message.
6 Tips to leverage the Mere Exposure Effect
Consistent Posting Schedule: Aim for a regular posting cadence that keeps you visible without overwhelming your audience. Consistency breeds familiarity.
Active Engagement: Don’t just post and ghost. Engage with comments, ask questions, and participate in conversations to deepen audience familiarity with your brand. Focus on PROSPECTS — they pay the bills.
Utilise Stories and Live Video: Go live or use personal stories to show a more raw, relatable side of your brand. The informal setting helps to foster a sense of closeness. Let people connect to you by using video, audio events and lives.
Cohesive Branding: Keep your visual branding elements like logos, colours, and fonts consistent across all platforms to offer a seamless brand experience. Be consistent in your tone and style. It’s okay to adjust every now and then, but try to follow a consistent pattern.
Multi-touch Prospecting: Whilst everyone is diving into pitching people on LinkedIn, think a bit more long term. Create multiple touch points over a period, particularly when your targets are larger companies. Build your brand inside their org.
Useful Content Makes a difference: The mere exposure effect can backfire, so don’t be know as someone who pesters, make sure your interactions with people and your content is useful for your target audience.
The mere exposure effect is your silent partner in building trust, familiarising prospects with your offerings, and elevating your brand.
It’s a psychological trick that packs a punch, but it requires strategic thinking and persistence.
So, are you ready to leverage this underrated strategy?
Because you’ve got a brand to build and an audience to win over.
Familiarity breeds fondness
Let’s get to it!
I help solopreneurs, salespeople and senior execs to win on LinkedIn
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