What’s new in the remarkable world of words this time around? As the festive season rolls in, smothering the nation with a feverish fog of over-shopping and over-indulgence, here are two of my favourite word related stories.
Can marketing messages create long term memories?
Ideally you’d like all your marketing messages to have a lasting and profound impact, sticking in people’s memories for long enough to support better brand equity and drive instant recall.
Exciting, interesting, funny, shocking, relevant, unexpected… whatever top quality content you’re about to create, whatever story you’re about to tell your audience, which bits of the human brain are you addressing those marketing messages to?
- Short term memories are stashed for a maximum of 30 seconds before being ditched, roughly long enough to dial a phone number from memory without forgetting it – only any good for encouraging impulses, including impulse buying and all sorts of direct marketing work involving an instant response
- Implicit long term memories are involved with learning new physical skills, for example playing an instrument – not much use for marketing
- Explicit long term memories are those we remember well enough to talk about, and they’re split into two types. Autobiographical explicit memories are about specific events from our personal history. Semantic memories start out as autobiographical but end up as facts. We remember when and where we discovered the fact, then it becomes semantic with repetition and we forget the original personal context. If you can worm your way into either of these, you’ll be making the right sort of marcomms waves
PS – Newsflash – 21st January 2016 – scientists at Edinburgh Uni have not only shown how a ten minute ‘time out’ helps consolidate long term memories, but that short periods of rest also help us remember spatial stuff like a new route to work. The challenge to marketers – get your target audience to relax in a quiet, darkened room for ten minutes immediately after seeing your marketing materials. Hardly practical, but an amusing thought experiment.
Explaining crazy-complex things in really simple words
His name is Randall Monroe. He’s the creator of the cult hit XKCD Comics. He’s a former NASA roboticist. He’s written a book describing some of the most complicated and difficult-to-understand things in the universe using just 1000 of the simplest and most frequently used English words. And for that reason alone, he is my hero. Any man who can reveal the intricacies of nuclear power in words I can understand is a friend of mine.
If, like me, you get a kick out of light-bulb moments, when something you’ve never quite got to grips with suddenly makes perfect sense, you’ll love Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words. It’s my best off-piste marketing-related book recommendation for December 2015, available in hardback and Kindle. And it’s a great read for any marketer who wants to see absolute plain language genius in action.