Biz Life Article on How To Steal Market Share

Grabbing Share – Memory vs. Recall

By Tom Dougherty

Stealing Share CEO & President

From Biz Life

Biz Life magazineHow do we steal market share? The answer is interesting and telling in today’s competitive advertising and marketing climate. It can be found in research on learning disabilities and can provide a great barometer for making preliminary judgments about how effective one creative execution might be as opposed to another.

At its root, all effective advertising has a strong strategic message. To be considered as great — and to have a chance at stealing share — advertising must convey a sense of market positioning, reinforce the brand, identify a target audience and speak to that audience in terms of product or brand benefit. In print executions (though the same basic principles hold true in broadcast) we need to have the correct message, we need to ensure that the message is read, and we need to ensure that it’s read by the correct consumer.

What is going on?

If every agency actually owns these abilities, why choose one over another? If every agency can consistently deliver a great creative execution, why do some campaigns fail to produce the desired share-stealing results? The Answer The answer can be found in research on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the training of people suffering from the learning disorder dyslexia.

It’s in the evaluation and understanding of how people learn that some light is finally shed. When a company tests advertising for “day-after recall,” they’re looking to see how well a core message is remembered some time after viewing. They’re asking for recall. Recall differs from “remembering” because it’s not a cognitive process. Recall happens without thinking; a memory requires thinking.

For example, if I ask, “What comes to mind when I say Coca-Cola?” your answer might be “soda,” “The Real Thing,” “Pepsi,” or value judgments like “like it” or “never drink it.” For most researchers, these statements are marked down, recorded and tabulated. Later they’re evaluated against the strategy to see if the advertising achieved what it was intended to achieve.

One problem . . . for the most part, advertisers overlook just exactly what is recalled and focus on what is remembered. No matter what you might remember about Coke, the first non-cognitive flash of memory was a visual picture of the product itself. Odds are it was a quick vision of the familiar red can or the trademark bottle. The other memories were then retrieved cognitively and added to that flash memory. Great advertising is advertising that can make the association visual.

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How We Learn

In special education, this learning method has been used successfully for years as teachers taught those with learning disabilities. In order to compensate, students are taught to use pictures as a means of organizing their thoughts, knowledge and memories. As it turns out, this is exactly how we all learn. How We Learn Human beings learn by associating — any new fact or idea can be linked to something they already know.

Traditional memory is always linear. If you can make an association with something you already know, you can use that “picture” to help you recall the new information. It turns out that what we actually recall is the association and not the memory itself. This is similar to the way a spreadsheet is organized; it’s not necessary to remember what’s located in box A-1, but that you must look into box A-1 to find it. Flash memory recall is your mind retrieving an image from a location, rather than remembering a particular meaning.

It follows that all great — and therefore effective advertising is visual in nature. This doesn’t mean that great print ads can’t be designed using just words. Rather it means that the words must be designed to create a visual image in your head in the same way that a great radio commercial does. If it is designed to generate recall, then the image produced needs to be tied into an existing association so that the mind can “find” it again.

When evaluating or creating advertising designed to steal share and work even if it is outspent, always ask yourself if the TOTALITY of the ad (or commercial) elicits an emotional “photograph” in your head. If it does, and the message is right, the target audience identified, and the positioning and benefit compelling enough, you can be relatively sure that the message will be recalled. If recalled, it becomes part of the life of the consumer. It’s that simple.

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