Looking for a good way to be remembered? One route is literary.
Another way is more quantitative than qualitative. More about deployment than style.
I’ll call this one The Rule of Seven.
Most behavioral psychologists will tell you that it takes between about five and seven impressions for most humans to store anything in their long-term memory. Short-term memory, BTW, lasts about 18 seconds; long enough to remember, for example, a phone number.
In the context of marketing communication and business development, think of an impression as…
- Mailing (e.g., a personal note, letter, invitation, e-mail message, client advisory, blog posting, newsletter)
- Advertisement (including Web sites visits)
- Phone call
- Face-to-face meeting (e.g., social or business, including seminar presentation, lunch, special event, client outing or reception)
- Film or video (such as a YouTube or Facebook posting)
There’s more, but you get the idea.
Why seven? There is a ton of science that supports the connection between memory and repetition. Cognitive neuroscience says that it takes repetition (along with other memory enhancers such as sleep) to create stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the parts of the brain that contribute to long-term memory.
Timing is important, too. Studies show that the spacing of impressions in critical. The optimal timing to repeat something is when the memory of a name or event begins to fade, roughly 14 to 21 days.
In other words, once is not enough. In fact, once is a waste. And remember the importance of variety in how the impression is conveyed, recognizing that all of us absorb information differently…sometimes it’s heard, sometimes read and so on.
The good news is that once is something stored in our long-term memory, it’s there for decades. Maybe a lifetime.