[Book Review] A First-Rate Guide to Making Your Content “Impossible to Ignore”


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Source:  McGraw Hill

As marketers, we communicate with potential buyers and hope they will remember our messages when they decide to make a purchase. Unfortunately, scientific research has demonstrated that our audiences forget most of the content we share, up to 90% by some accounts.

But, what if we could create marketing content that our audiences are more likely to remember? That’s the topic of Carmen Simon’s book, Impossible to Ignore:  Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions (McGraw Hill, 2016). This book provides a detailed discussion of science-based techniques for making your content more memorable and impactful.

Carmen Simon is a cognitive scientist who specializes in neuroscience research. She is currently the Chief Science Officer at Corporate Visions, a consulting firm that helps companies improve marketing and sales effectiveness. She is also an instructor in the continuing studies program at Stanford University. Simon holds doctorate degrees in both cognitive psychology and instructional technology.

What’s In the Book

The central message of Impossible to Ignore is that memories lie at the heart of all human decision-making, and the purpose of the book is to explain how business professionals can leverage research findings from neuroscience and cognitive psychology to create communications their audiences are more likely to remember.

The first two chapters of Impossible to Ignore lay the foundation for the concepts discussed in the rest of the book. In Chapter 1, Simon describes the role that memories play in human decision-making. She observes that humans are naturally wired to seek rewards, and they rely on memories to predict the reward potential of their decisions and actions.

Simon also uses Chapter 1 to introduce 15 variables that can be used to influence others’ memory. Those variables are context, cues, distinctiveness, emotion, facts, familiarity, motivation, novelty, quantity of information, relevance, repetition, self-generated content, sensory intensity, social aspects, and surprise. 

In Chapter 2, Simon writes that memory is particularly important in business communications because we typically share information with an audience at a given point in time, and we hope they will remember and act on that information at some point in the future. Therefore, if we can influence what the members of our audience remember, we can increase the odds they will make the decision we want them to make.

Most of Impossible to Ignore is devoted to discussing the 15 variables that business communicators can use to influence the memories of their audiences. Several of these variables are covered in multiple chapters. So, for example, Simon discusses the importance of making messages and content distinctive in Chapters 1, 4, 5, and 8.

Simon makes three important points about using the 15 variables.

  • Several of the variables should be used in each communication.
  • But .  . . it’s not necessary to use all 15 variables in every communication. That would be counterproductive.
  • The context of each communication matters. The trick is knowing which variables to use, how much to use them, and when to use them.

Near the end of Impossible to Ignore, Simon includes a chapter discussing several aspects of how the human brain makes decisions, and she concludes the book with a checklist for creating memorable content.

My Take

I don’t usually review books that were published more than a couple of years ago, but I’m making an exception for Impossible to Ignore.

I first read Carmen Simon’s book in early 2017, and I wasn’t overly impressed. I thought the book was difficult to read, and while I recognized the subject matter was relevant to marketing, I questioned how useful Simon’s ideas would be in B2B marketing.

When I read the book again a few weeks ago, my reaction was entirely different. I now think this book contains a wealth of valuable information for marketers.

So, what changed? The simple answer is that I was better prepared to appreciate Impossible to Ignore when I reread it earlier this year. Since 2017, I’ve become more focused on the importance and value of using behavioral science principles in marketing.

Over the past seven years, I’ve read close to a dozen books and dozens of academic journal articles dealing with human decision-making, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics. I’ve used principles of behavioral science in my work, and I’ve written about the subject frequently at this blog. So, when I picked up Impossible to Ignore a few weeks ago, I was better prepared to recognize the value of Simon’s book.

This time, I found Impossible to Ignore to be well-written, engaging, authoritative, and accessible. The book contains numerous science-based tips and tactics for making messages and other content memorable, and Simon also includes real-world examples to make her ideas relatable.

While I don’t think Impossible to Ignore should be the first book you read about the use of neuroscience and cognitive psychology in marketing, I strongly recommend it if you have a good foundation of knowledge about these topics. If you’re new to these topics, here are two great books to get you started.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.


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