AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerFalse Consensus Effect and Airport Signage

Subscribe to AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

False Consensus Effect and Airport Signage

The next couple of weeks I’m going to blog about my observations and experiences at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas. I’m going to start with my flight and the concept called the false-consensus effect.

The false-consensus effect happens when our biases tend to overestimate the extent to which an opinion, belief, preference, value or habits are expressed as typical of all others.  You might recognize it when someone says, “Everyone _______________ (blanks).”  It’s similar to the Curse of Knowledge.

For me, the false-consensus effect also happens when a marketing category sees others in their space advertising or marketing and wants to copy the idea or placement without knowing if the idea is viable.  It’s why all car dealer ads look the same—they just copy each other. I still can’t find one person who knows what MSRP means in car ads.

It also happens when one category dominates a medium. As I was preparing for my flight, I noticed that nearly 15 colleges were advertising in the airport. Many had their ads right next to each other. No “message separation” as we call it in the business.

If you were a college administrator you might think, “look at all these other colleges advertising here, I better have my marketing department advertise here.” Maybe the ads work. Maybe they don’t. However, as I looked all around on that Friday morning, I didn’t see one teenager walking around. The opposite of the false consensus is the Zig-Zag effect– When everyone is zigging, it might be time to zag.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.