No it’s not because #8 was named ‘Suicidey‘ and lived up to his name; nor is it because of the other obvious assumption – that due to a genetic mutation he grew to be normal size and so was thenceforth banished from the compound. It was of course, because Snow White couldn’t remember his name.
It’s why you punch a name into Google, hoping the girl/guy you met at the bar who verbally gave you her/his number, had a name unique enough that she/he would show up in the results, because you can’t remember the phone number. Snow White missed out on the company of ‘Suicidey‘ (the 8th dwarf) because of the inherent limitations of her brain. Because she couldn’t remember more than 7 and neither can you.
So that’s somewhat exaggerated (that you can’t remember more than 7)… the point is, it’s not far off. We have multiple memory locations, facilitating multiple purposes; however our focus will be on ‘working (short-term) memory’.
Working memory is to the brain what RAM is to your PC. It stores bits of information used for processing the task at hand, but this storehouse is fleeting. Shift your focus elsewhere, jam-pack more dwarf names in there and some of the names that were in there prior, will be pushed out. Your PC’s RAM can only ‘remember’ so many bits of data (depending on its capacity) at one time and so can your short-term memory.
Going back to your Google search, the lesson here is – only date locally; that is, only within your area code. It improves fidelity as the firmly established and sacred relationship defense “it’s not cheating if you’re in a different area code” cannot be pleaded and you’d stand to improve the number of dates you’d have; now having only to remember the last 7 digits of your date’s number.
The ‘rule’ – “The magical number seven, plus or minus two” is one of the more highly cited papers; based on work done by George Miller of Princeton’s Department of Psychology in the mid 50’s and shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Some believe that number is as low as 3-4. In any event, this limitation should be considered in your marketing programs. How many benefits are you featuring in your copy? How many menu buttons are on your site?
Now if ‘Suicidey‘ (the 8th dwarf) did live up to his name and committed suicide in front of Snow White, she’d quite likely remember his name very easily! According to a paper published by Elizabeth Phelps of NYU (Human Emotion and Memory: Interactions of the Amygdala and Hippocampal Complex) and published in Neurobiology – emotion felt during an experience STRONGLY impacts the encoding to the long term memory.
…the enhanced memory capability observed for emotional events is due to the amygdala’s influence over the encoding and storage of hippocampal dependant memories
…by influencing perception and attention, the amygdala can alter the encoding of hippocampal dependant, episodic memory, such that emotional events receive priority
…events the elicit emotional responses, which are likely to be more important for survival, are also more likely to be remembered later
So. While your key take away from this article will no doubt be the sagely, Dr. Phil like relationship advice; remember, herein may lie the secret to avoiding dwarf suicide. Which coincidentally might aid in the effective communication with your customer.
There is a limit to how many pieces of information that can be held in the mind of your customer. That limit is small and easily reached. Moreover, the chance of your message even being committed beyond short-term memory will depend on your ability to get the customer’s attention and strike an emotional chord… and sadly, everytime you fail at this, a dwarf will commit suicide.
This article was written by Marc Narine.
Marc works with companies to elevate marketing performance and profitability by going beyond the feature/benefit approach to instead assessing the consumer’s emotional and cultural imprints and subconscious attachments to a product. He is the primary author at 3Brain Marketing.