Recency Bias

Imagine this …

Your company wins a huge contract and suddenly you need to hire 7 new people.

The recruiting process takes 3 months, but it’s worth it. Each new hire is an all-star. 

Unfortunately, your enthusiasm is short-lived… 

Your team misses the first big deadline. Then another deadline gets missed. And another one. 

Everyone is frustrated. Your new hot-shot sales lead threatens to quit. And you’re at your wit’s end. 

You bring everyone together for a team meeting to figure out what’s going wrong.

The consensus is clear: YOUR project management skills are the problem.

No one knows what their priorities are. And important project details are getting lost in long email threads and siloed conversations.

“We need one source of truth,” your new Marketing Director says. “There are plenty of great project management tools out there. Let’s start using one.”

The rest of the team agrees, so you ask them which tool you should choose.

Seven team members are on the call and you get 7 different answers.

“There is no perfect solution,” the Marketing Director says. “Each tool has pros and cons. Just pick one.”

As soon as the meeting ends, you open your browser and search for the first tool that comes to mind. 

Seven tools were mentioned. Which one do you search for?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at Recency Bias–why we’re more likely to remember the most recent information (and often forget earlier details).

Let’s get into it.


“Top Marketing Newsletters You Need to Subscribe To”

The Psychology of Recency Bias 🧠

When presented with a lot of information, we’re more likely to remember the most recent part.

This psychological phenomenon is known as Recency Bias and it was coined by German Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Ebbinghaus observed that when consuming info in sequential order, people are most likely to recall the most recent info followed by what was heard first (aka Primacy Bias).

The information in the middle is often a blur.

Embrace delegation

Recency Bias can apply to various kinds of information, from lists of items to idea pitches to the most memorable job candidates.

Inside Your Buyer’S Mind🧐

When presented with information, potential buyers don’t weigh it all evenly. They give heavy preference to the last thing heard.

A classic example of Recency Bias can be seen among jurors. Studies show that information presented later in the trial has a higher likelihood of swaying the verdict than info presented earlier. This is why lawyers put so much effort into crafting the perfect closing statement—it can make or break the case.

If your buyers’ brains store recent details first in their memory, then choosing how you present information can have a HUGE impact on how customers make decisions.

Being the last offer a prospect sees or hears before they have to make a decision can give you a leg up.

How To Apply This 🤑

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

Try to present last

Whether you’re pitching an idea to your team, competing against a number of other businesses to win a new client, or speaking at an industry conference, it’s worth fighting to go last. If you can’t get the last spot, go first.

Sequence offers strategically

If you sell a variety of different products, try presenting your high-margin products last in a sequence—possibly using another product as a price anchor. Combining anchoring with recency bias can increase the chances of buyers choosing your highest-margin offers.

Finish strong

When creating marketing materials (eg. ads, blog posts, keynote presentations, etc), choose the #1 message you want buyers to remember and end with it. This could mean saving the biggest benefit for the end of an advertisement or recapping the top benefit again at the end so it’s more memorable.

The Short of It 💥

Your buyer’s memory is flawed. When presented with a variety of information, they’re more likely to remember the last thing they see, followed by the first thing.

Being in the middle of the list often means being forgotten.

Time your offers accordingly.

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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