Imagine that you’re leaving your office building at the end of the day and you see a guy grab a woman’s purse and run down the block. You’re feeling fit and know you can easily catch him and retrieve the purse but you’re carrying a heavy briefcase full of paperwork. There are two people standing beside the entrance there – you don’t know either, but one person is somewhat familiar because you’ve seen him a couple of times in the elevator. Which one do you ask to watch your briefcase so you can catch the thief?
Studies show, and most people would agree, that the (even slightly) familiar person is the one you’re most likely to trust with your briefcase. This is an example of what social scientists refer to as the Familiarity Principle or the Mere Exposure Effect.
People have a psychological tendency that causes us to prefer an option that we have been exposed to previously, to an option we’ve never encountered, even if the exposure to the first option was brief.
The reason most people will buy a particular brand when they’re shopping at the supermarket – especially one they’ve never tried before – is because it’s familiar. Advertisers, of course, know this very well.
By simply becoming familiar with a name, a logo, or a brand, people grow to feel more comfortable and trusting. And how does trust and confidence grow out of that initial familiarity?
Sociologists explain that familiarity deals with an understanding of the current actions of people or brands, while trust is about future expectations. Familiarity and trust complement each other. If you’re familiar with a brand it’s likely you’ll have reasonable expectations for its reliability.
By making your agency brand increasingly familiar to both prospects and clients, you’re creating and strengthening a bond of connection. Familiarity is the ground that leads to confidence and trust. And trust is really the glue that keeps business relationships strong.
You’re probably acquainted with the idea that you need to “touch” prospects six or seven times before they’re ready to do business with you. That’s one example of the Familiarity Principle at work.
Most business relationships don’t happen overnight. It takes time and engagement to build flourishing connections. And familiarity with your brand is just the start. You’ve got to let people know you’ve got the “right stuff.” Both clients and prospects need to be supported and nurtured so that trust and confidence can develop.
You know how competitive it is out there. Customer loyalty isn’t something to take for granted, nor are prospects’ interest and receptivity. Those qualities have to be cultivated through repeated experiences. It all begins though, by getting known and familiar.