Marketing people, and the minds of the people they are trying to inﬂuence, are often in conﬂict.
Unfortunately, these arguments are being presented to minds that really aren’t up to dealing with all that glorious information. Our perceptions are selective. And our memory is highly selective. We are cursed with the physiological limitation of not being able to process an inﬁnite amount of stimuli. This means that in a crowded category, your difference might not be enough unless it is a dramatic difference.
Seeing is not akin to photographing the world—merely registering an image. Memory is not a tape recorder that stores information when we turn it on. How much of your message gets through depends to a large part on what you are selling, according to years of data compiled on readership scores by advertising category.
For instance, an advertisement for footwear is going to be twice as interesting as an ad for ﬂoor coverings, regardless of the brand names or beneﬁts. Similarly, an ad for perfume—almost any perfume—is going to have double the average readership of a furniture ad. There is even a ‘‘no-interest’’ category where people will remember no brand names. It’s caskets. The leading brand is Batesville. But after a few paragraphs, you’ll have forgotten this.
These interest levels—these biases—are ﬁrmly in place before we even pick up a magazine or newspaper. This is why the ﬁrst and second brands in the market have an enormous mental advantage over the later entrants. They tend to preempt the most important differences.
Minds Hate Confusion
Human beings rely more heavily on learning than any other species that has ever existed. Learning is the way animals and humans acquire new information. Memory is the way they retain that information over time. Memory is not just your ability to remember a phone number. Rather, it’s a dynamic system that’s used in every other facet of thought processing.
We use memory to see. We use it to understand language. We use it to ﬁnd our way around. So, if memory is so important, what’s the secret of being remembered? When asked what single event was most helpful to him in developing the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein is reported to have answered: ‘‘Figuring out how to think about the problem.’’
Half the battle is getting to the essence of the problem. Generally speaking this means having a deep understanding of your competition and their place in the mind of your prospect. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what your competition will let you do.
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