Mental Real Estate

adbuilding-kellyshibariDriving through Los Angeles, I see a myriad of billboards, bus stop advertisements, and giant print ads on the side of buildings, 20 stories high (or more). Some of them stand out more than others – others, I remember only because it’s on my regular route to certain places. For a month or longer, I see the same ads in the same places – so it becomes imprinted.

Imprinting is important. We have to deal with a million things from the minute we wake up till the minute our heads hit the pillow again. We are constantly bombarded all day, every day, with many things – appointments to make, commitments to keep, assignments to complete, even on days we consider holidays. We are attacked by a constant barrage of sights, sounds, memories, and new thoughts and ideas – it’s no wonder so many of us feel like we have some sort of attention deficit disorder. There’s just simply not enough memory in our own brains to keep the information organized on a daily basis. And unlike computers, there really is no way to “add” memory. The closest thing we have is a mental backup hard drive in the way of a journal, notepad, PDA or cell phone to jot things down.

Much like the real estate taken up by billboards, our brains have their own limit to the amount of real estate is available. Once we hit our mental real estate limit, we have a tendency to subconsciously but systematically remove the unnecessary information – usually, that tends to be the extemporaneous information that we’ve been subjected to that day. I know from personal experience the number of times that I have seen a billboard and thought – oh, I should check that site out – only to have forgotten what the URL was by the time I got home and dealt with the 10 things I had to do before sitting at the computer. At the time, I thought, of course I’d remember the information…but inevitably it is lost. I could chalk it up to it not being important enough to remember anyway…but if you multiply my own personal experience with however many others go through the same experience, and that’s lost potential revenue.

Social media is an amazing tool. But just sending links to sites and products only gets lost in the wave of all the others – no matter whether or not someone has added you as a friend on Facebook or followed you on Twitter, if you are not interesting enough to keep their interest they will just have forgotten that link in about 3 minutes, when the next wave of status updates and Tweets have come in. On the other hand, if you engage your audience – actually have real-time conversations with them – you’ll have planted that flag in that little corner of their brain, at least for that day. Continued engagement with your friends and followers will not only lead to the development of friendships with people from all walks of life, but will also carve out a distinct part of a person’s mental real estate.

So what are you doing about making sure that you’ve staked out your little bit of a customer’s mental real estate? Are you just being the same as the rest of the masses – just sending out a barrage of information to see if any of it sticks, or are you being creative enough to make sure that you’re keeping the customer’s interest?