Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Being Memorable–Creating Events that Stick

It has been mentioned to me repeatedly that I have a unique view on the world at large. I am frequently asked by clients, friends and the occasional strangers advice because I “think-outside-the-box”. Besides the fact that I think the box doesn’t exist (that’s for another post) I truly do believe the reason why I get some of this attention is due to an underlying principle I to which I subscribe: Leave people better than when you met them. How does this equate to being memorable? Let me explain.

Our past is dictated by emotions

Think about your memories. What comes to mind? Are you remembering the mundane activities of life (i.e. getting a drink from 7-11, reading the morning paper, sitting in a meeting) or do you remember the feelings of the activities (i.e. the refreshing feeling of the drink after a workout, reading about a momentous event that changed your world, getting praise for a job well done in front of your peers)?

The majority of what we “recall” in our past is controlled by the emotional contexts we attach to those memories. Sure we recall facts and information so we can traverse our daily activities, but when we think about “Memorable Events” the emotional link is incredibly stronger than the factual link. It’s one of the reasons why people say purchases are “emotional”. It is because when you purchase something one of three emotions can occur: excitement, depression or indifference. And yes … indifference is an emotion.

The two controllable regions of memories

When looking at the emotional context of our past two controllable regions appear. The first is the ability for gratitude and second is the ability for forgiveness. Each one tackles a different area of the emotional cortex that makes up our memories.

Gratitude allows us to ruminate on those activities and events that excite us. When you think about a past event that makes you smile or brings you joy often a feeling of gratefulness for being able to participate in that event occurs as well. This feeling may be large or small. Usually it shows itself by some comment like “That was fun” or “We should do that again”. It is this grateful feeling that allows us to not only think about the past, but ruminate the emotions we had with the event.

Forgiveness allows us to change traumatic events into forgotten memories or, if extremely successful, into Gratitude. When forgiveness occurs between two or more parties then the emotional depression created by the event can begin to dissipate. Ultimately the emotional context of the forgiveness event can surpass the past tragedy. This is where powerful customer service can really shine (but again … another post topic).

When we start to understand these two controllable areas we can start to understand how memorable events can occur.

Anchoring the common into the emotional

When I think about events to put on for a client (either promotional, training or just gathering) I try to look for those emotional moments that can anchor the event into the memory of those attending. The goal is to create an event where the participating parties can ruminate afterwards about the time they had and feel grateful for participating. And if that fails then to jump on the forgiveness train and turn those feelings around so they bind that emotion to the client.

Think about your past memories and the times where you had great joy. Remember the feeling you had during those times. Are you the only person who can have those feelings? If you’re not then that might be a great event to try to host for your business. Here are some random ideas to try:

  • Opening day movie premier
  • Camping, Fishing, Hunting parties
  • Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over open fire pits
  • Dinner and Dancing date night
  • Occasional drop-in to say hello and see how things are going
  • Lunch (and it doesn’t matter where)

The key to being memorable is to provide a memory that is emotionally joyful. The problem I find with many businesses is that they anchor the clients to the wrong thing. Money is important, but it is not emotional. The spending of money is. Ergo “everything 50% off” doesn’t mean as much as you would think to someone not in your store. The 50% off is not emotional, but if you had someone come into your store and they got a surprise 10% off just for being there now you have tied into the emotional spending with a surprise. That is an event people will talk about and come back for more.

Remember my underlying principle: Leave people better than when you met them. Think about that for your next event. Then create the event around the memory. When doing that you start creating clients for life instead of clients for the moment.

Many happy successes on your next memorable events. And of course if you ever need any help, I’m just a lunch time meeting away.

Intense Debate Comments