Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you the goal of all advertising is to make sure that when their audience needs a product for a specific task, they’re the first brand/product the consumer thinks of.
For almost a century, we’ve seen millions of ideas ranging from tv commercials, web banner ads, print ads, radio ads, guerrilla marketing campaigns and influencer marketing that all exist only to try to reach that single goal.
As time has gone by, the ways in which we deliver the message have changed but the goal has remained the same.
To understand how we can get closer to reaching this goal, we must first acknowledge and understand the core of that goal is to help people create a memory of their product, even if they’ve never used it before.
How to remember?
In the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Justin Foer, Justin is a journalist that’s covering the U.S. Memory Championship. Assuming the competitors are all especially gifted from birth in memory, Justin is surprised to learn from almost all the competitors he talks to that they’re completely normal, everyday people. They certainly spend time training just as any competitor does, but they all started as normal people that constantly forget where they put their car keys.
After being told by one of the internationally ranked competitors that if he was to train for just a single year, 30-60 min per day, he’d win the U.S. Memory Championship, Justin decided to do just that in what he calls participatory journalism. In his year of training, he learns several techniques at remembering things but none are as effective as the 1,000-year-old technique of the “memory palace”.
The memory palace technique is to simply imagine the thing you’re trying to remember in a location you know very well. Childhood homes, workplaces, your school, a friend’s house, etc… Some people can remember hundreds or even thousands of different things in a single location — in the exact order, it needs to be remembered. They do this by creating a path through the “palace” and putting the items they want to remember in specific places with extreme detail.
For example, if you wanted to remember the capitals of all 50 states in a certain order (starting with Ohio), you could start at your childhood mailbox and imagine Christopher Columbus riding on top of your mailbox with a giant sail and a silly hat. Done, next. At your front door is the capital of Colorado. You smell cigarette smoke as you see John Denver leaning against your door with his guitar and his signature circle lens glasses as he plays “Take me home”.
The idea is to take what could be simple words or ideas and attach meaning to them and a detailed story to be able to remember much easier than if you just repeated something until it stuck.
Give this technique a try on your own. Ask someone to list 20 random things in a certain order. As they list each item, place it in a certain place along the path that you’d walk in your childhood home. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is and how long you’ll be able to remember these items.
How to make people remember you
If our goal is to help people remember what it is we can help them do better, why do we constantly try gimmicky techniques like repetition, sensational claims or celebrity endorsements?
Sure, there are some brands out there that can afford to use these techniques and simply make sure their ad is seen a dozen times in a 2 hour period. Their strategy is to pound information into your head until you can’t forget it. For most businesses, however, that’s not an option. Maybe somebody stumbled on your site and is looking for how you can help them. You have an incredibly short amount of time to help them create a memory of your product. How are you going to do it?
Let’s say your product is a food subscription service that sends a box of food and a recipe every week. A very original idea a year or two ago but is growing in saturation by the min. How could you get people to remember you when they decide they’re ready for food to be delivered to their door every week?
As we learned from the techniques of the Memory Championship competitors, the key to a great memory is hitting on as many senses as possible, using location and most importantly — Using story.
Is there a way you can get people to imagine cooking your food in their kitchen for their spouse on a special occasion? The closer you get to matching their life, the better it will be remembered.
Delivering your message
Once you know what to say, then it becomes the issue of figuring out how to say it.
One of the key learning moments for Justin Foer in his memory training is when he learns that the best memories with real staying power require a great visual and a bunch of creativity. Since your audience likely isn’t training for the U.S. Memory Championship, you can help them remember by giving them a creative memory that they can easily visualize on their own by using video.