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The concept of creating a message that sticks is one that is becoming increasingly more important. As our attention is continually demanded by our email box, smartphone, text messages, instant messages- and so on, it’s easy to lose track of messages without a lot of meaning.

The human brain works by a process of organizing information into existing structures- these are called schemas. When we are given information that doesn’t fit into any of our existing schemas, we have to work very hard to understand and remember it. Unless this information is extremely significant and highly relevant, most of us won’t even bother.

Since it seems the pace of marketing is speeding up, it only makes sense to try and craft messages which can attract attention and entice the reader, viewer, or visitor to relax and stay a while. As I’ve said before, the hardest thing is to get attention, and the next hardest thing is to retain it.

In order for your message to stick, you need to make sure it harnesses several key principles.

1) It must be relevant and meaningful.

The research on adult learning states that adult learners are mainly motivated to learn when the information is meaningful and relevant to them. They are less likely to remember a bunch of random information that lacks a context or narrative. This is why good marketers tell stories.

Stories are one way of building context and relevance. They create a schema for the conversation by using mechanisms we are all familiar with- the languages, pacing, cadence, and beginning, middle, and end.

2) It must create curiosity and interest.

Sometimes, you can create these elements by using few words- leaving more to the reader’s or viewer’s imagination. Using action words, and rich descriptions- just like a really good book- can help draw the listener in and make them want to know more. Read a lot of novels- not just business books- if you want to develop your capacity to do this more fully.

3) It must be easy to understand.

There are some key themes that we all understand- and they usually involve contrast. Light/Dark, Good/Evil- that kind of thing. When you can distill your story down into basic themes that are easy to understand, your audience will pay attention and remember.

4) It should look to the future.

People are interested in now, but they are even more interested in what is to come. If you can weave a story that is relevant and meaningful now, but also points the reader/listener/viewer to a better future, your story will be even more powerful and is more likely to be shared.

Start to shape your content through the lens of these four filters. You’ll find that your  core messages are remembered and repeated.