Can “The Sticky Memory” Technique Make Your Message Impossible To Forget?

Can “The Sticky Memory” Technique Make Your Message Impossible To Forget?

It was just like any other trip to Whole Foods. I bought a pound of coffee and two bars of premium dark chocolate. My wife and I are total chocolate snobs. It’s one of the things we splurge on. It wasn’t an unusual trip today but it’s one I’ll remember for quite some time.

When I bought the stuff, the cashier packed the bag and I went on my way. The kids distracted me the second I walked in the door. I didn’t empty the bag until later that night. At 9:00 PM I unpacked the shopping bag. I also wanted to grab a square of the dark chocolate.

The bars were nowhere to be found.


“Did you already take the chocolate out of the shopping bag?” I said to my wife

“No. I checked the bag earlier. I  expected some chocolate.”

“I got two bars. I can’t find it. “

I checked the car. I checked every cabinet. Nothing.

She never packed it. It’s the only explanation.

I put the receipt aside. I’ll get a refund the next time I go back.

What Makes This Memorable

This is the kind of memory that sticks. There’s a reason why some memories stick and others don’t.

No matter how powerful or well written your audience walks away remembering, at most,  one thing. Are there a few outliers that might remember more? Sure. But that’s the exception.

If your audience remembers only one thing, how do we control what they remember?

What The Heck Is Sticky Memory?

The sticky memory technique is simple to use. You follow just one rule.

People remember what deviates from a pattern.

You can’t use this to help your audience remember more, but you can pick and choose what they remember.

Surround your target piece of info with a similar pattern.  If you want something forgotten, make it blend in.

Here’s an example to illustrate how it works.


If I ask you to repeat that string of characters I can guarantee the only the only thing you’ll remember later is the number 67. They’re the only two numbers in the sequence and they’re in bold.

Of course, in real life we can’t be so obvious.

In marketing, it’s helpful to use this technique to ensure audiences remember your strengths at the expense of your weaknesses.

Here’s an example.

We are a website design company. We have two years experience,  We do not offer hosting. Guess what? We just won our third design award this year.  See our terms and conditions for more.

Which of these details sticks out. The first two are negatives and written to sound bland. The last item is exceptionally bland. I also use the word “We” to lull the reader before I bring them back to life with “Guess what?”

I want you to remember the design awards at the expense of the other three items.  When your audience recalls the message later on, they’ll likely remember the awards at the expense of the other three details.


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