I wish I had a buck for every time an advertiser has told me that his objective was to “Just get his name out there.”

Is there any value to another name being flung around in mass media? Perhaps. But without name associations, very little value. What’s a name association you ask? It has to do with the way people remember.

Think back to your earliest memories. Many of us have strong recollections of things that happened to us when we were as young as two, but seldom anything earlier. It’s not coincidental that our memories begin at about the time we learn to talk. Do you remember anything that pre-dates your ability to speak? You may retain a vague impression of something that you experienced before you started talking, but the strong memories all use words as anchors in our minds. We need words for our memories to work to their full ability.

I say, for instance, “tree.” You visualize a tree. You can’t help yourself. And more than likely, you don’t remember any particular tree… you have an impression of a drawing of a tree from some book you saw as a child. You may have seen hundreds of trees before that first memory, but until you had a word to equal “tree,” you didn’t plant (no pun intended) a tree in your memory.

Can you see that tree right now? It’s likely to be something resembling an oak, or perhaps a walnut. It probably won’t be a pine or fir, even if you grew up in parts of the country in which evergreens are common. Why do I say that? Because those are the representations of trees that we all saw in books when we started reading. Word associations stick with us for life.

The words themselves have the ability to trigger memories. And those memories… even those composed of fractional feelings… are what give storytelling the power to move us emotionally. If I refer to feeling the “sting of salty tears that trickled down her cheek” you have a much more vivid impression of the scene I’m describing than if I say, “she wept.” Its not more words that make the first description more vivid. It’s choosing the right words to express the exact feeling I wish to convey. When I succeed, you’ll recall not only mental pictures, but also my words will also trigger recall of the other senses associated with that memory… sound, taste, smell, touch… even over-all mood.

So let’s go back to the concept of “getting your name out there.” When people hear your name, is there anything that “sticks” in their minds? Are there memories that people can attach to your name? Or is yours just another name clamoring for attention; momentarily cluttering up someone’s consciousness before it’s dismissed as having no immediate value?

Truth is, if people can’t see themselves using what you’ve got for sale, they will never pay enough attention to your ad to develop any memories of having seen / heard / read it. If you were able to get a prospective customer’s attention with your ad, for goodness sake give them words with which to remember how they feel about your business. It is those words, and their resultant memory associations, are what give your advertising and your company some value to a prospective customer.

And when people associate those feelings with your name, you just may be on your way to actually selling something. It’s the first step to creating a brand identity. So, yes… get your name out there. But get the associations with your name out there, too. Without either one, the other has no value to your prospective customer.

If you could use some direction in your ad writing, there is probably not a better investment of your time than spending three days at the Wizard Academy in Buda, Texas, attending the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop April 27-29. Upon graduation you’ll make better sales presentations, write more convincing proposals, and create magnetic music, art and advertising.

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