Frequency Illusion

Imagine this…

Your 2016 Honda Civic isn’t cutting it anymore. You’re ready to have a Bluetooth connection and are thinking about splurging on something electric.

You’ve saved up a nice nest egg for a down payment, and your options are pretty open.

Should you put all your chips in and go for the Tesla Model 3?

You’ve always wanted one—but do people actually buy them? Or is it all hype?

While driving home from work, a white Model 3 passes by you. “Hmm… I guess people have really bought into the Tesla hype,” you think.

The next day you run an errand and park next to another Model 3. In the next few days, you notice seven Model 3’s driving around your town. What’s strange is that you don’t remember seeing this many ever before.

Did everybody *just* buy a new car or have there always been this many?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re exploring the Frequency Illusion – why once we notice something for the first time, suddenly it seems like it’s becoming more common—even if nothing has actually changed.

Let’s get into it…

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The Psychology of Frequency Illusion 🧠

Once we take notice of something—we suddenly start to see it everywhere.

We assume that something has changed in the world, when in fact it’s just our focus that’s changed.

What’s really happening is that your mind is on the lookout for the product, brand, topic, etc. 

Looking at the example from the story above… the Tesla’s used to pass right by you, but because you’ve been thinking about them, now you notice them.

Embrace delegation

The Frequency Illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, comes from our mind’s selective attention bias and confirmation bias.

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Selective attention bias is the reason you notice things that are important to you—like your kid at the playground vs. the other 20 that are also there.

Confirmation bias makes your mind agree with your current standing opinion and ignore what goes against it—it sure *seems* like a lot of people are buying Tesla’s all of a sudden.

Conveniently, you ignored the dozens of other electric cars on the road that you’re unfamiliar with…

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Buyers rarely purchase something big, like a car, out-of-the-blue.

They start by exploring and evaluating possible solutions and begin to build a “mental list” of possible solutions. 

When they notice something interesting that could benefit them, like your product, they’ll subconsciously be prone to notice it again and again.

The Frequency Illusion can work in your favour because once prospects become aware of your brand, they’ll subconsciously be prone to notice it again and again. This is selective attention bias in action.

And because they never noticed it before now, they’ll assume that it’s growing in popularity and that the product is more likely to be a safe bet. 

This taps into their confirmation bias and gets them thinking, “I KNEW this product was interesting. And apparently more people are beginning to figure it out too.”

Because the Frequency Illusion is, as the name suggests, an “illusion”, that means that you can create it yourself.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Use retargeting ads across various channels

With retargeting ads, you can create the impression that you’re “everywhere.” This builds credibility for your brand and products. Brands can even choose a niche and month to sponsor the heck out of the most popular channels (from influencers to newsletters) to create the illusion that they’re the talk of the town.

Be consistent

If you’re always changing your messaging or visual aesthetic, taking advantage of Frequency Illusion becomes more difficult. You want to make it easy for buyers to notice you continually popping up everywhere they go.

An easy way to do that is by using the same profile picture and branded imagery across all your social channels.

For example, I use the same profile picture and graphics across Twitter, LinkedIn, and on my creator page on The Juice.

Embrace delegation

Be active in communities where “your people” are active

If people see your content online and then find you chatting it up in their favorite community—they’ll be intrigued. You’ll seem like the mega-star that everybody somehow knows. And for your buyers, that’ll make them want to get to know you, too.

Start by figuring out where your audience already hangs out and who they follow. A quick Sparktoro search can be helpful here. Here’s an example…

Embrace delegation

Once you’ve discovered your audience’s watering holes, make an effort to show up. 

You could:

  • Pitch yourself as a podcast guest
  • Co-host a webinar with an aligned brand
  • Add thoughtful replies and comments on an influencer’s social media posts
  • Or sponsor a popular newsletter (like this one)

The goal is to look like you’re suddenly everywhere.

The Short of It 💥

Buyers will notice your brand more once it becomes top of mind, even if the same touchpoints already exist.

Create authority and trust in your niche through the frequency illusion that proves you’re an integral part of your community.

Until next time, happy selling.



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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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