The Recency Illusion

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you decide you want to buy a certain brand of new car, you start seeing them everywhere? The same happens when you find out that you are having a baby. All of a sudden you start seeing pregnant women and babies everywhere.

This is a real and well-known effect called the “Recency Illusion”. It is what happens when you first encounter what appears to be something new, and then you start noticing it everywhere.

It is a phrase most often used in relationship to language usage, but when coined by linguist Arnold Zwicky, he defined it much more broadly as “the belief that things you have noticed only recently are in fact recent.” In marketing as well, it has a wider implication.

Research has shown that the more someone is exposed to a particular brand or product the more likely they are to become a buyer.

Successful companies use this effect to their advantage. They find ways to expose their target audience to the same content, just in different ways.

For example, it can happen by creating a marketing campaign using social media content along with videos. While the message is being conveyed in different ways, the impact is happening over and over again, until ideally, the customer finally makes a purchase.

You need to find creative ways where you can expose your customers to your products and information repeatedly, but in different ways. Then they become accustomed to seeing your name and brand associated with a particular product. When it comes time to purchase this product they will buy from you without thinking twice.

As mentioned earlier the best way to do this is by offering the same content in different ways. Here are just a few ways (there are many more) that you can do this:

  • Turning blog posts and articles into audio content
  • Adding slides to audio content to create videos
  • Conducting video interviews and posting transcriptions
  • Adding graphical images and quotes to your material and posting it to your social media sites
  • Tweeting excerpts of your content
  • Creating trailers or short videos from your longer content

Apply a similar approach to your branding. You want to have a great logo designed and then publish it everywhere. Of course you will want to use it in all your advertising materials and on your business cards. Make sure it’s everywhere on social media including your (or your company’s) Linkedin page, Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, etc.

And don’t forget the power of physical goods: swag like tee shirts, mugs, water bottles and more.

It all comes down to repurposing your content in various ways so that it appears everywhere. Once your prospects become of aware of you, they will have the experience of starting to see you everywhere.

The relatively recent phenomenon of retargeting, where companies truly do follow you around the web is the paid commercial version of the Recency Illusion. Now it’s no longer an illusion.

When you get good at doing this you will find that it is an extremely effective way to get more mileage out of your content, leading ultimately to more traffic to your website or your physical location if you have one.

Ready to start creating your own Recency Illusion in the world?