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Electrical memory is short-term. It's the thought you are thinking right now… no, right now … get it? It's imagination, the ability to see possibilities in your mind. It is temporary by nature; the RAM of the human computer that is your brain.

When you go to sleep, your brain powers down, and most of what is in electrical memory gets lost during the nighttime (kinda like when a PC is switched off and short-term memory, RAM, disappears). Sleep causes the information in electrical memory to fade according to its relevance. More important information doesn't fade as fast as the trivial stuff.

Here we stand … the possibilities of email messaging in one hand, the nature of memory in the other. So the critical question is this: How relevant are your short-term messages? Better still, how relevant are the messages you want your customers to remember over the long haul? How can you make sure your prospect is going to remember you the morning after?

Electrical memory is of limited capacity. If you try to add an item to it, the new item pushes out a previous, less-relevant one. Imagine aiming a fire hose at a teacup. ALL the information coming at you - TV, Radio, Web pages, Newspapers, Emails, Billboards, Direct mail, Fliers, Music, plus what your kid swapper her peanut butter and jelly sandwich for at school - is the water consistently and vigorously trained on the teacup (a.k.a. your brain, or more specifically, your electrical memory). Some of the water stays in the teacup; the rest spills out. Relevance determines which "water drops" stay in - you store in electrical memory only that information that's important to you at a certain moment in time.

Once you get a message to stay inside the teacup, the human computer works on transferring it from electrical to chemical memory.

Chemical memory is long-term, stored memory … it's all the things that you can remember. It's like your computer's hard disk. If you really need to store your data so you can get it back, you save it to the hard disk before you power down your computer. Unlike the ephemeral RAM of electrical memory, chemical memory is the repository of “known information” from the hard drive of the human computer.

Chemical memory, business-wise, is “top of mind awareness”; it is being the company your customers think of first and feel best about whenever they need your products or whenever your product category is named. In other words, branding.

Advertisers try to “whip people into action” with the urgency of a limited-time offer. They can be sure at best, that if their message is relevant, it will stay in electrical memory only until the expiration date, after which it will be erased forever from the brain.

When an advertiser focuses effort on limited-time offers, the only thing that makes it into chemical memory is: “this advertiser makes limited-time offers.” In essence, the advertiser is training the customer to ask, “When does this go on sale?” Surely you're in business for something grander than that!

Three things can be done to increase the transfer of a message from electrical memory to chemical memory:

· Increase the relevancy of the message

· Increase the frequency of its repetition

· Increase the relevancy of the message and the frequency of its repetition

Branding is accomplished only when you have a relevant message that is repeated with enough frequency to become securely stored in chemical memory.

Buy-now messages are immediate, direct response-type messages by nature, while build-identity messages are aimed at meeting deeper, more long-term goals. And it is possible for your communications to do both. You can convey, in the same communication, a powerful, long-term branding message accompanied by one or more short-term, direct response messages. Putting all your eggs in the Short-Term Message Basket will lead you nowhere. Without strong, long-term, brand-building messages integrated into your communications, you are harming your chances for long-term success.

Remember, some of the people receiving your messages don't need what you sell right now. What are you saying to them? How are you making them feel? Who will they buy from when their need arises?

© 2000 Future Now, LLC

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