Are You Creating Forgettable Content?

September 3, 2015

Research has shown that 90% of the content you’re sharing is forgotten—and quickly, too. That means your prospects only retain 10% of what you share. Which 10% will they remember?

During INBOUND 2015, I heard Rexi Media’s Carmen Simon tell the story of a presentation she attended in Italy. The only thing she can remember from the presentation is that 17% of Italians surveyed think it’s okay to text while having sex. Hardly what the presenter wanted the audience to take away.

Left to their own, your audience will remember the wrong bits of your content. But if they’re only going to remember 10% of it, you can use Dr. Simon’s research to make sure it’s the right 10%! Here’s how to do that.

Know Your Main Point

Before you create any piece of content, ask two questions:

  • What do I want readers to remember?

  • What’s the most important message?

This is the one thing your content should focus on. Everything else should support it, or be left out. By focusing on just one message, your readers’ attention will also be focused on the right information.

Support Your Main Point

Once you know what your most important message is, figure out the supporting points. Supporting points let you take complex content and distill it down into usable chunks of information. You want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to remember the content. This is called cognitive ease. The more you make them work to remember, the less they’ll do it.

Use these best practices to guide your supporting points:

  • Use just a few points. No more than three or four. After that, your readers’ brains will have to work hard to keep all the supporting points in mind.

  • Keep it simple and clear. Complexity and confusion work against the brain’s memory processing.

  • Make it repeatable and shareable. Repetition helps strengthen memory.

The best brand slogans do this perfectly. They’re short, simple and clear, and immensely repeatable and shareable. You probably know the slogans of each of these brands:

  • McDonald’s

  • Nike

  • Allstate

  • Capital One

  • Apple

Repeat Your Main Point

Your main point is the most important message in your content. That’s the one thing you want your audience to remember.

Keep this message consistent throughout your content. Consistency creates believability and trust. For example, all of these well-known facts are actually no more than trusted myths:

  • You lose most of your body heat through your head.

  • You use only 10% of your brain.

  • Carrots improve your eyesight.

  • JFK said he was a jelly doughnut.

  • George Washington had wooden teeth.

Surprised? These “facts” are repeated so often, they’ve earned our trust, even though there’s no (or very little) evidence to support them. Repeat something often enough and it’ll earn our trust.

Consistency also aids in memory. The consistent message is the one that will sink in.

Make Your Content Unforgettable

Your audience might be forgetful, but you can create unforgettable content and control exactly what your readers remember.

Know your main point. Support your main point. Repeat your main point. That’s the simple formula for focusing your audience’s memory on the right 10% of your content.

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