Imagine - you have just been handed an old fashioned little round tub of ice-cream (as I was on the plane this week) condensation beading on its sides. You pull back the lid to reveal the little wooden spoon, nostrils tickled by the vanilla aroma sending taste buds into overdrive.. Grab the spoon and scrape the first swirl from the surface of the ice-cream before popping it into your mouth - pressing the ice-cream against your palate, a sensuous experience both rewarding and indulgent…
Hold this thought a moment, as I did on the plane, where does it take you?
This experience took me 35,000ft above the Atlantic 2005 back to memories of my childhood, summer 1968. A hot sunny day, pausing between sand castles and shrimping; skin tight, tingling with sun, sand and salt.
If you and I had shared this experience (as I did with my siblings) it is likely we would have shared the same memory triggered by the ice cream tub and the associated emotions. It pays to be aware of the TRIGGER, the MEMORY and the EMOTION and respect their value.
Tastes, sounds, images, words and events all trigger memories and memories are associated with emotional states. Sometimes positive e.g. a tune that reminds us of emotions associated with our first kiss; sometimes negative, the numbers 9/11 that instantly takes us back to what we were doing on that day and how we felt when we heard the news. If this is so then it follows that emotional states are key to the creation of memories and that these emotions elevate the significance of the triggers. The ice-cream tub triggered my memory and I felt nostalgic for my childhood, all in an instant.
Sponsorship, advertising, and events are marketing triggers and should all maximise the opportunity to stimulate the emotions and create memories in the process. Even at the level of telephone conversation and email, we should not forget the power of memory to positively change the emotional state of our customer or colleague. It is always a good idea to reference a positive memory from the last time you met - it is like logging into a shared emotional server. This heightens the sense of empathy between you and others. Mentally we begin by being aligned - being on the same page really helps.
A business to business company can competitively increase customer mind-share by reinforcing positive emotional experiences articulated as memories. Even in the most serious business to business markets it is always possible to create more positive emotional experiences and therefore memories than their competitors.
The negative is also true, it is possible to become linked with bad experiences, emotions and memories - infamously Ratners jewellery, more recently Perrier and the benzene contamination or Virgin trains. Negative memories, recorded through our emotions can linger long after the reality has improved.
Memories, and the emotions that create them, cannot be ignored as marketing objectives. It pays to make sure that the memories that you trigger in the mind of the customer are more positive than the competitor ones.
Memories are not reality but their intangibility should not be allowed to reduce their importance as real assets to your business.
- Memories are associated with emotions
- More will be remembered in a heightened emotional state
- Positive memories are an asset to the business
- Memories can positively or negatively skew perception
- Memories are a competitive advantage
Further reading: Memory and Emotion, James L McGaugh.
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