“I see your signs everywhere!”
The typical real estate broker hears that quite a bit. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to broker, I’d have a ton of money.
They’re talking about the “FOR SALE” or “FOR LEASE” signs that real estate brokers plant in front of their listings.
Of course, even the busiest broker doesn’t really have signs everywhere, but sometimes it feels like they do.
Why is that?
It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon also known as “frequency illusion.” Psychologists tell us that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a cognitive bias. After noticing something for the first time, people have a tendency to notice it more often, leading you to believe that it has a high frequency.
Once you see something for the first time, it can feel like you start seeing it everywhere. Upon becoming aware of something new, you start to look for it unconsciously. Then you can’t help but notice it, leading you to believe it’s “everywhere.”
Increased awareness of something creates the illusion that it’s appearing more often than it really is. I see a real estate broker’s listing sign and then feel like similar signs are cropping up all over town.
If the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is true, and I believe it is, how can we use it to our advantage as CRE professionals?
First, remember that successful sales pros bring an aura of “theatre” to their work. That doesn’t mean we lie and are disingenuous, but we do need to put on a bit of a show. At the very least, we should always leverage human nature. Be very aware of the perception and image you put forth.
If people are predisposed to frequency bias, the by all means, make it easy for them to experience frequency bias!
I’m always amazed when I meet brokers who voluntarily choose to leave their names off of listing signs. (I know some companies don’t allow broker names on signs, but if it’s permissible, why wouldn’t you want your name to be on there???)
Now, there are other ways to benefit from frequency bias. Social media comes to mind.
I just went to my Facebook page and checked my posts for calendar year 2019 (the last full year before the pandemic). Over the course of that year, I made a grand total 13 posts (with photographs) about presentations or workshops I had delivered in various places. That represented only 13 of 70 total presentations I did that year. Nevertheless, people often say things like this to me:
“Seems like you’re constantly speaking!”
“Man, you travel all the time!”
Actually, I’m NOT speaking and traveling all the time. If I did 70 presentations in 2019, it meant there were almost 300 days that year when I was not speaking or traveling. Because of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, it looks like I’m constantly on the road, constantly in front of an audience, constantly collecting speaking fees.
That’s why I always encourage CRE brokers to post photos with a quick synopsis whenever they close another deal. If you post, six, 12 or 20 closed-deal photos over the course of year, it will seem like many more than that.
An old saying tells us that “perception is reality.” If that’s the case, it behooves you to shape and mold the perception that people have of your life and your real estate practice.