Thursday, January 24, 2008

Remember: Only good communication can make you remember

What is the goal of every communicator? Is it not to have the audience remember the message and act on it?

Smokey the BearWhich brings us to Smokey the Bear.

"Remember, only you can prevent forest fires." Who can forget that advice? But there was more. Smokey solemnly advised never throwing a match away without first breaking it in two.

I don't know about you, but I never forgot that advice – even if I didn't quite understand it. Why break it in two? Couldn't half a match start a fire as easily as a whole one? And then, about 40 years after I first heard Smokey's admonition, I finally got it. If you can break it in two, the match must be cold enough to grab both ends with your fingers!

How brilliant is that? Getting someone to remember your message even if they don't really know what it's all about. If Smokey had said, "Never throw a match away until it's completely 'out,'" I probably would have started plenty of fires. ("Gee, I thought it was out! How should I know it wasn't out?")


Almost every business today has a slogan designed to stick in your mind:

Like the hospital with the tagline, "Where saving lives is only the beginning." (You're telling me! Wait until they send the bill!)

Or the automobile company that's "Moving forward." (God forbid you have to parallel park.)

Or the bank that will help you "Achieve anything." (Oh yeah? What if I have no money, no credit history and no collateral?)

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