Monday, October 17, 2011

What memories are made of.

         "It does seem that, as a general rule, we remember emotionally-charged events better than boring ones." That's a quote from Mempowered, a Web site that deals with this sort of thing.

         They tell us that memories are treated differently if they're pleasant or unpleasant, and it's the emotion aroused that makes emotional events easier to remember, not the importance of the event.

         I'm guessing that's why you can't remember many of your early birthday parties but can recall that fabulous Halloween costume that made such a big hit.

         It also explains why we can or can't remember most TV commercials, almost all print ads, and most of the stuff we get on Facebook and Twitter.

         One thing we've been learning about the brain is that we react much more quickly to feelings than to facts. Psychologists tell us that affect trumps reason. We need reasons to back up our belief system and our attitudes, but these come later. That's why we in advertising and marketing know that if you don't get someone's interest in the first few seconds, it's hopeless. Your message is lost.

         The best ways to get attention are emotional: humor, surprise, joy, fear and anger --- something that gets you involved. Stories are a wonderful way to do this, if they're captivating and intriguing enough for you to want to know how they turn out.

          In print, we can't really control the order in which you see things. Usually you'll  be attracted to the visual first, which is why it's so important. A pleasing picture, followed by a tough headline, creates the emotional pulling power that works best.

          In television commercials and Web videos, we have complete control over the sequence. We have to start with something emotionally charged, so the viewer will want to stick with it.

          Emotion is a valuable way of making a product advantage memorable. "Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?" and Hallmark's "When you care enough to send the very best" are two of the most memorable taglines in advertising history. "Fly the friendly skies" did a lot for United until their policies and pricing got unfriendly.

          Try using emotional appeals in your marketing. It's the rational thing to do.

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