‍The Mere Exposure Effect: Why your people should be far more visible on LinkedIn.

Mike Nicholson

When your company first opened for business, did you hire a group of graduates, with no industry connections to take it to market? They would be significantly cheaper to employ than let's say, senior execs with hundreds of buyer contacts each, forged over 15 years of working in the industry.

I suspect you opted for the latter, despite the significant additional investment required, because the former would struggle to get the attention of your buyers.

Part of the reason that a grad would struggle to get the attention of a buyer is because they are unfamiliar, and familiarity as it turns out, is important.

The Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect is a well known psychological phenomenon whereby people feel a preference for people or things, simply because they are familiar. It is well-established that people evaluate a stimulus more positively after repeated exposure to that stimulus.

In a world where cold, spray-and-pray, pitch slaps are creating what Barney Worfolk-Smith described as 'an avalanche of irrelevance' buyers get very good at filtering out that irrelevance.

Avalanche of irrelevance

I spoke to one senior agency exec who told me he scans hundreds of emails a day in his bulging inbox for his clients first, his boss second, his colleagues third, and then the partners that his media agency has preferred partnerships with. Due to his workload, and the sheer volume of email, the only other emails that are likely to get any attention are those that are sent by people who are familiar to him, but they are still at the bottom a very long list.

Familiarity is important, we know that, and it shows in our hiring decisions, opting for well-connected people. Yet as an industry, we are not very good at talking to those connections online.

To become familiar, you need your people (and brand) to deliver a reach and frequency of messages, in a relevant way, and when your buyers are most likely to pay attention to your messages.

LinkedIn: Reach, frequency, and attention

LinkedIn is closing in on one billion members globally (36m in the UK) and it has grown to be a powerful business networking tool.

When your ideal clients have a few, unplanned moments of downtime, do you think they are more likely to check their email inbox for sales emails, or go to their LinkedIn newsfeed? In my experience, the latter is more likely.

The free attention that is available to you, your people and therefore your company, via the LinkedIn newsfeed, is significant, and all at a time when people are in a work mindset, and actively checking their newsfeed for something interesting, entertaining, or possibly both.

If your execs are not regularly using LinkedIn to grow their network strategically, and posting content that leads towards the value you offer, you are invisible to those buyers.

On LinkedIn, people pay more attention to people

You might say, Mike, listen, we have a company page on LinkedIn, and the marketing team are putting content up all the time, with very limited engagement I might add...

I am not surprised. One of the main reasons for that lack of engagement, is a lack of attention, because on LinkedIn your company is the advertising, and your people are the content.

People pay far more attention to the personable content from other people's profiles than they do the corporate content from company profiles.

Another reason is that most people reading LinkedIn are in 'lurker mode' and don't post, like, or comment anyway, but numerous tests over many years have proved that people prefer to read the personable content of your people.

According to one eye-tracking study, standard IAB desktop display (advertising) units get an average of 1.2 seconds of attention, whereas a blog on this site can get 240 seconds of dwell time. With that in mind, I'd rather be the content than the ads, wouldn't you?

That's why we work with CEOs, CROs, CMOs and other senior leaders on producing personable content, containing consistent messages, which are delivered frequently.

This delivers more visibility, more attention, and more familiarity with the value you offer to buyers.

Reach and frequency

The more somebody is exposed to a message, the more familiar they become with that message, and familiarity leads to trust.

A client of ours at Six Sells told me that he noticed his buyers were "repeating key marketing messages back to me when I met them face to face". So the content we created with him for his LinkedIn newsfeed became familiar to his buyers, through consistency and repetition, and when he met them face-to-face, they were already talking his language!

The inconvenient truth

It is an inconvenient truth that your buyers spend more time browsing their LinkedIn newsfeed than they do sat in front of your sales team.

While face-to-face meetings will always be preferable, they don't scale very well, and don't offer anywhere near the reach and frequency that a LinkedIn content strategy delivers. Your execs might meet 10 buyers face-to-face in a given week, and reach thousands more via their content on LinkedIn, but only if they are active!

As an individual, having a consistent, frequent posting cadence alongside a strategy to grow your network with the people who have influence over buying decisions helps you stay visible, and makes your value proposition familiar to thousands.

Setting up for success - identify, connect and engage

I recommend that each of your sellers should have a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account, in which they can set up leads based on the territory they are working on.

It might be that they want to target 100 brands, with 1,000 people involved in the buying decisions for those 100 brands.

Saving all of those 1,000 people with influence as leads, will allow your sellers to quickly and clearly identify when those people are active, which is an opportunity to engage with them, thus growing visibility and familiarity.

I've trained hundreds of people on the Six Sells identify, connect and engage process on LinkedIn, and it works. Check out my LinkedIn profile to see many recommendations from execs in our industry, written by them, and in their own words.


For evolutionary reasons, we tend to like and trust people and things that we are more familiar with, so building and maintaining familiarity with your buyers is such an important strategy in such a crowded marketplace.

It is well-established that people evaluate a stimulus more positively after repeated exposure to that stimulus.

Face-to-face offers a deep interaction, but lacks any frequency. A well thought out LinkedIn strategy adds additional scale to all of your door-to-door efforts.


Six Sells is a B2B communications agency for sales and marketing leaders.

We help your client-facing people to speak to more of your ideal clients, more often, via social media and personable content.

We offer training, consulting or done-for-you services, which increase the awareness, familiarity, trust and interest in your company and its products and services.

Email hello@sixsells.co.uk for more information.


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