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How to hack your consumers’ memory for better marketing

There are scientific principles that companies can use in marketing that could influence their consumers’ decision making.



Think your audience remembers your awesome advertising? Studies show that consumers forget 90 percent of content they experience after two days. The other 10 percent they hold onto is random.

Every marketing or branding professional attempts to “think outside the box” to get noticed, trying new, and hopefully clever, ways to advertise their message. But most of it is forgotten. The good news—you can stop thinking outside the box and start using scientific principles that will really help you.

Marketing keynote speaker Dr. Carmen Simon has dedicated her study of cognitive neuroscience to helping companies leave memorable impressions in everything from marketing to branding to leadership. To do this she founded Memzy, a Silicon Valley startup focused on using brain science to help companies create more memorable messages to influence their consumers’ decision making.

In her latest book, “Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions,” Simon explains the three-step plan she gives to clients to make your company unforgettable, drive action in consumers, and add structure to the randomness of memory.

1. Create cues to attract the audience’s attention

Simon says there are a few different ways to attract an audience with cues. Using everything from size, color, loudness or brightness to play on your consumers’ habits is the most effective method. While every advertiser knows visual stimulants attract an audience, most fall short when it comes to integrating these cues into the audience’s habits and internal stream of consciousness.

Integration is key. By integrating your visual cues into people’s daily habits your message will last longer in their memories. Finding a way to infiltrate your consumer’s external world and making yourself a piece of their day-to-day is not only the path of least resistance but also comforting and memorable.

You can also focus on the consumer’s internal thoughts and create cues that are reflective. Some ways to get a reflective response are: reactivating old memories, noting relationships between concepts, elaborating on something learned in the past, deriving meaning, and recalling unfulfilled goals. These cues will promote long-term memory and sometimes even nostalgia.

You can create anticipation in your consumer by mentioning a reward for them to look forward to. (Source)

2. Use memory-influencing variables to control what people remember

By offering your consumer a surprise that’s not too surprising you can use the paradox of surprise to your advantage. What’s the paradox? We are biologically pre-dispositioned to view surprises as a bad thing since our brains tell us any divergence from expectations is wrong and our survival instincts overdramatize the situation. Our bodies release stress hormones as a part of the fight or flight response, but how does that explain the joy you felt at your surprise party or when your friend brought you soup when you were sick?

The key to balancing people’s stress over a surprise and leaving them bored out of their minds is building anticipation. When you anticipate an event, your brain releases dopamine to elevate your mood. You can create anticipation in your consumer by mentioning a reward for them to look forward to, giving them information about someone else ahead of time (which gives them perceived power), rationing new material and delaying the unveil.

Simon also discusses other ways to influence your consumers’ memory, like creating a repeatable message through simple syntax and tying your message to long-term goals since memory reinforces a desired self.

3. Turn today’s intention into tomorrow’s action

People base their decisions on how much value they attribute to an event, action or thing. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we are always valuing situations even when we don’t have to make a decision. The brain adds value to an outcome when it has the ability to imagine future event.

This means your marketing from point A (initial contact) to point B (final purchase) must be geared toward a very real possibility of the consumer incorporating your product or service into his or her life. Creating a clear vision of your consumer with your product builds an emotional connection that will win every time.

Photo credit: Campaign Creators

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Jessica Welch is the Marketing Content Associate at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau. She graduated with a degree in English, minor in Anthropology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her studies at Cal Poly were focused on Creative Writing and Cultural Anthropology. Jessica enjoys partnering with BigSpeak's roster of exclusive speakers to create original content that spreads their unique messages.