There’s way too much content that looks the same.
A friend of mine who runs an agency has been using AI for some time to help with blog posts. I’ve seen the work it puts together. That AI generates predictive text based on the Internet content it’s seen before, but the average content writer is doing the same thing. You get similar points, written with slight variations.
Video, audio, text, doesn’t matter. The same thing applies. This sort of content is serviceable — but people don’t remember it.
Your brand needs to be different. You need to make yourself memorable.
Make Yourself Memorable
It’s easy to say you should be memorable. It’s a lot harder to actually do it.
What makes something memorable?
On the Internet, we are awash in an ocean of information. Our brain has to try to make sense of it. Filter it. And there are ways to make the eye stop and pay attention to you.
Your content needs clarity first. Your copy, product, call to action — whatever you’re trying to draw attention to should be clear, set off with contrast and space.
Your goal is to lower cognitive demand — you’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with your content, no matter what it is. You raise barriers to engagement by making your layout too busy or confusing. Lower them by making it clear where people need to pay attention.
This is critical, especially in social media content where a user is likely to be scrolling rapidly. If you don’t grab and hold attention, people won’t remember you.
When you look at something, you don’t actually take in the whole image at once. Your sharpest vision is in the fovea, a tiny area of closely-packed cones in the center of the eye. Your vision gets less and less sharp as you move away from the center. The fovea flickers around as you take an image in, and it only really looks at the important parts. Your job is to stop it where you want attention.
There are some cheat codes here:
- “Sex, puppies and babies.” The old advertising axiom still holds true; these are images that automatically stimulate our limbic system. The challenge is usually connecting the image to the product.
- The serial position effect. You may have heard this referred to as “primacy and recency,” our tendency to remember the first and last items in a series best.
- Movement. We’re automatically geared to notice movement. That’s why video is such a powerful medium. When we see movement, our brains go into assessment mode, looking at whether something is a potential threat.
- Faces. People pay attention to faces. If you heat map a picture of a person, even one where the face isn’t the most prominent portion of the picture, the face is what shows up. Use faces in images in your written content. Find ways to get people into your videos.
- Hands in motion. Ever seen “Binging with Babish” on YouTube? Andrew Rea uses this to keep attention without ever showing his face.
You have to make yourself stand out first to become memorable. And our next point can actually help with that too.
Think Salvador Dali. Objects you don’t expect to see in a particular place. Odd juxtapositions. These draw the eye and stand out in our minds.
Novelty acts as a performance-enhancing drug for our memory, releasing dopamine and norepinephrine to boost our recollection of things that happened before and after the unexpected event. We remember things that surprise us.
Novelty can be applied in a number of different ways. Sometimes it’s visual novelty in an image or video — the famous Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign is a great example of this. It borders on absurd, but it’s incredibly quotable and vivid in my mind even after all this time.
Other times it’s in a unique acronym. I’m a copywriter, and I’ve studied a number of different copywriting frameworks. There are so many acronyms I’ve lost track — AIDA, FAB, A FOREST, ACCA, UPWORDS, OATH. There’s a reason for that: it’s a great way to make your points stick in someone’s mind.
Maybe it’s in your approach. Rand Fishkin seems to have carved himself a niche as a content marketing contrarian, and many of his most interesting pieces have a headline that runs counter to traditional wisdom. Once you read the piece it’s pretty easy to agree with him — but that approach makes him novel, and novelty helps make him memorable.
Where were you on September 11, 2001? Most people have an ingrained memory of that day, where they were and what they were doing. These events raised strong emotions, and emotions are another factor that drives memory.
Emotions tie into the previous two points. They make events more attention-grabbing because they lower cognitive load and bypass our conscious response. The depth of the emotion makes things novel. It acts as a multiplier to the other elements. Emotion is key to both marketing and advertising, because dry content doesn’t stick.
Start with stories, which are a great way to rouse emotion. Hope, joy, love, anger, jealousy … all of these are used in content.
Humor can rouse emotion too. Remember the PC and Mac ads? Those stuck in people’s memories because they were amused.
Then there are “parasocial relationships” — the content creators and brands we follow and identify ourselves with. These stir emotions in us. We feel along with them as they share their successes and failures. Gary Vaynerchuk uses this effectively with his personal brand.
Building that emotion allows you to create long-term connections with your audience. It makes you memorable and salient. And when it comes time for them to buy, they’ll think of you — because you’re not just a conscious choice, but an unconscious one. If we have a choice, we buy from someone we like.
Does Your Audience Remember You?
If your audience is scrolling past your content and rarely engaging, you’re not getting remembered. Become a destination, not just a pit stop. Use attention, novelty and emotion to engage their memory and make yourself memorable. And if you need a little assistance with that, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help.
Rainmaker Digital Services