People act on what they remember, not what they forget.
Buyers are overwhelmed with messages, information and content. For years, marketers and salespeople have been asking how to cut through the growing noise to effectively reach their audiences.
The key to cutting through the noise? Dr. Carmen Simon says it comes down to being memorable.
It should be no surprise that memory is at the heart of adaptive behavior and decision making. In Dr. Carmen Simon’s new book Impossible to Ignore, she includes chapters on the business approach to memory, controlling what audiences remember, making a message repeatable and how the brain decides. Gaining a better understanding of how buyers consume and digest messages, information and content, we can become more memorable and as a result, better marketers and salespeople.
Dr. Simon herself is a cognitive scientist with doctorates in both instructional technology and cognitive psychology. She is also the cofounder of Rexi Media, where she helps companies create memorable messaging.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Dr. Simon some specific questions about the mistakes we make and how to fix them.
In terms of being memorable, what mistakes do sales reps and marketers make most often?
CS: One of the biggest mistakes we often make when speaking to others is not being clear on what we want them to remember. Having the aspiration to be memorable is easy. The hard part is creating a crisp message you want others to articulate when you’re no longer in the room. To validate this observation, complete these simple steps:
Step 1: Think of the last presentation you delivered or conversation you had with a co-worker, boss, or client. What was important that they remembered from what you said? Write this down.
Step 2: Ask when you see them: “What do you remember from that presentation/interaction?”
Step 3: Compare what you first wrote with what they say.
I’ve completed this exercise many times and I’ve been disappointed many times – disappointed that the points I thought were important either didn't make it in my audience’s memory or got distorted.
For example, in some of my brain science workshops, I wanted participants to remember the combination of “attention, memory, and decision-making” on changing behavior. But when tested and given similar options, some participants remembered “attention, repetition and design” or “attention, memory and engagement.”
This was a humbling lesson for me because while the first mandatory phase in being memorable is determining what you want to be memorable for, the second mandatory phase is making sure we sufficiently distinguish our messages from similar messages. I frequently notice how often we are unaware that our messages are not differentiated. Just because we think we said something interesting does not mean that message will not be confused with similar messages.
While recently walking around a shopping center and experiencing the ads attacking my senses, I still remember the one below, portraying the elegance of winter apparel for women. It caught my attention because it was distinguished from the way we normally see a dress advertised. Usually, a woman will wear a flowery dress but in this case, she is happily sporting something that looks like a sleeping bag made love to a comforter.
A distinguished message guards against interference between memories
If we want to be memorable, we must identify what people must remember and communicate a distinguished, interference-proof message. This means that against the background of similar messages, yours will have the strength to come to the foreground.
The next post in this blog series with Dr. Simon will share insight into the role of emotion on memory and influence.