You know that comfortable feeling when you see someone you know or something familiar? It seems natural to us, although there is psychology to the ‘why’ behind it. In social psychology it is known as the ‘Familiarity Principle’ and referred to as the ‘Mere-Exposure Effect’, which is where continuous exposure to a stimulus such as your marketing content, leads to greater preference or enjoyment of that stimulus in the person.
This works best though if they have not had a previous negative experience from that brand or that their first exposure it not a selling one. Think of a certain song you can automatically relate to a company advert, or even a style of campaign, you can guess the company without even seeing a logo. Its due to the exposure you have had, without even buying from them. Companies like Coka Cola, use this strategy, and if you’re looking for a thirst-quenching cold fizzy drink on a hot summer’s day, you may think of their drinks.
So how can this research help you as an estate agent? Firstly, let’s understand what’s changed over the last few decades, what type of marketing you should focus on and then form your own strategy for it.
What has changed?
With the world changing from being only ‘media’ based, where big brands-controlled marketing messages and ultimately the eyes of the consumer, and without the internet, people could not do their own market research, without engaging with a brand closer to the buying process. The bigger the brand, the more money and exposure, which meant certain companies controlled this space. This can be relatable to corporate estate agency in the 1990’s, pre property portals and the internet.
This old working way has become less effective, with the arrival of the internet and multiple social media platforms as people want a ‘social’ interaction with a brand as they would expect to have with friends, and can search for all the information in the world.
With these changes, previous marketing studies around the Mere Exposure Effects, have found that in the early 2000’s it took on average 4-5 marketing messages before a person interacted, not purchased from a brand, with studies in the last few years saying this is now on average 20 times. Mostly down to the effects that people are now seeing more advertising each day than they used to before and walk around with unlimited capacity, to find information for themselves, normally from their phone in their pocket. Our brains have also learnt to deflect more irrelevant information which we don’t want to see.
Effectively the game has got a whole lot harder to affect people’s decisions, based on how to market to them, the length of interaction and how you make them feel towards you. Remember, it takes on average 20 times for someone to interact with a brand, not buy from them, although how effective you can apply the Mere Exposure Effect into your marketing strategy, will determine on how they remember you, as people choose on familiarity and emotion, not logic. How many times do you like going to the same restaurant to choose that familiar dish or choose an old film over a new release? It’s the same principles your company can use.
What type of marketing should you focus on?
Firstly, your branding should be consistent. Do you use the same colours in your marketing, both primary and complimentary? Do you use the same font? The same tone of voice? The same brand wording? Do you stand-out? This is important for the people to subconsciously relate this branding information to your company.
Secondly, what type of marketing messages do you use? Are you going straight in for the kill offering a market appraisal immediately, sending the usual sales messages or cold calling your database? Are your marketing messages information based, that a person can consume enough content with your company (around that 20 times) without any of it being sales related? Is the content they receive relevant to their circumstances? According to a Forbes article, 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalised experience and 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand who provides a personalised experience. How consistent are you with your marketing that is not just sales based? Does your team market themselves so people get to know who exists in your company? Do you feel comfortable with this?
Thirdly, think about how you can communicate with your audience with their learning needs in mind? How are you providing them information? What social media platforms are you on and what type of content does that offer? Does that mean creating more videos as well as written information? Do you provide a regular newsletter or a personalised digital journey that allows for those 20 interactions to take place? What can you do more of, for someone to reach out and want to engage with you more? How much content do you have for them to binge like someone would do on Netflix?
What could be your strategy?
Start by sitting down, with self-awareness and your consumer eyes on, and reflect on where your brand sits with its marketing and how you can apply the Mere Exposure Effect for the future? This involves understanding and tapping into the subconscious part of people’s brains, through a relevant, interesting, and repetitive content marketing strategy. This is a long-term strategy to plan as it could take up to a year before a person has enough interesting exposure from you, before they feel comfortable to reach out to you. This works effectively through maximising your current database which you hold, consistently reaching out to them without cold calling and asking for business, as well as working on lead generation strategies. If we look at any instant valuation tool as an example, it can take on average 9 months before someone books in a market appraisal, so how can you apply this strategy to them? How can you work with people who have registered and not found a property, providing them with information that they will find interesting to read, if you have limited properties to show them? Every single person is on a unique journey of moving, so reflect on whether you’re providing a giving or a taking customer experience.
The final thought, if you apply this psychology, that a person can be turned off by being given constant sales messages, from the 1,000s of ‘Your Free Market Appraisal’ leaflets you send out to your local market, to find a couple of listings, ask yourself, how many are you turning off your brand? How can you take that repetitive process and turn it into a long-term, more modern strategy with a constant flow of interesting information and content to your local market?