The Mere Exposure Effect For Managed Service Providers

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The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon whereby individuals develop a preference for stimuli that they have been repeatedly exposed to. This effect was first identified by social psychologist Robert Zajonc (Pronounced ‘Sayonz’ in polish) in 1968, who posited that familiarity breeds liking, meaning that the more frequently we encounter something, the more we tend to like it. The mere exposure effect has since been extensively studied and is considered a robust finding in social psychology. It is sometimes called the familiarity principle.

Prior to carrying out his research, he noticed that when organisms first encounter a new stimulus, they typically exhibit a fear/avoidance reaction. As the organism experiences the stimulus multiple times, their fear response diminishes, and their interest gradually increases. Eventually, after numerous exposures, the organism starts to display positive feelings towards the previously unfamiliar stimulus.

The underlying mechanism of the mere exposure effect is thought to be a reduction in cognitive processing required to recognize a familiar stimulus, leading to a positive affective response. This effect is applicable across various domains, including faces, images, sounds, and even abstract concepts.

In plain English – this means that familiarity breeds affection, rather than contempt. Think about that next time you see an advert being replayed for the millionth time or hear a catchy jingle on the radio – especially one you can’t stop humming to yourself.

A managed service provider can use this phenomenon in their marketing and branding efforts by consistently and frequently exposing potential clients to their brand through multiple channels, such as advertisements, social media, and email marketing, they increase the likelihood of clients forming a positive association with their brand.

In general, the Mere Expose Effect is why I keep suggesting that MSPs send out our regular content and it’s why we at MKLINK produces regular content for our MSPs. It’s because it builds familiarity – thereby increasing credibility, trust and loyalty which in turn leads to more clients converting from sales-leads to customers over time at the ‘front-end’ of the sales-funnel.

It also means that your existing clients will spend more money with you – at higher prices – for longer.


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Mike Knight