Do you ever find yourself humming an old advertising jingle you remember from childhood? It's a common occurrence for all of us. Some things just stick in our minds, seemingly forever. But what makes one marketing message stick while hundreds or even thousands of others are barely noticed or immediately forgotten?

Memory is a tricky thing and highly selective for each individual. We remember things that matter to us alone, not anyone else. We each have our own unique filters through which we view and experience our world, including the marketing messages directed to us.

With billions of marketing dollars invested to reach and motivate audiences each year, nearly every component that goes into a marketing campaign has been studied and measured. So a lot is known about what makes messages memorable, including these four proven ways to make your marketing stick.

  1. Evoke an emotion.
    Whether you tug at their heartstrings, shock them, surprise them or make them laugh, your audience will tune in and remember your advertising message better if their emotions are in play. It's no wonder that some of the award-winning broadcast commercials make people laugh. They beg to be watched or listened to over and over again, even after the audience is well in on the joke. But other emotions can make your ad unforgettable, too. Think of all the commercials that bring tears to many consumers' eyes in unforgettable ways. We remember things that touch our hearts, minds and imaginations. We also like to hum along, so a great jingle, particularly if it includes your company's name and a call-to-action, can keep your message running through your customers' minds for years.
  2. Earn a personal recommendation.
    When researchers ask Americans to list the factors that most directly affect their purchase decisions, a personal recommendation from a friend or associate is always at or near the top of the list. What can your company do to stimulate word-of-mouth that leads to recommendations? Great products or services, fair pricing and going the extra mile on customer service are the basic essentials. A public relations campaign that leads to articles online and in print, a terrific website with in-depth information, a consistent referral campaign and a crowd-pleasing customer reward program will each lead to recommendations. Social networking online and traditional networking in groups will also get people talking about you.
  3. Create an "ah-hah" moment.
    Learning something new or discovering an eye-opening fact can really make a message stick. Our brains are actually on the lookout for new information, so the best ads open our minds to new thoughts and ideas. How many ads can you think of that challenge the consumer to look at something in a new way or try a newer, better tool to meet an everyday need? Some of the best marketing messages ever created open minds. Consider the way the first Apple computer ad unforgettably positioned the company as a David going up against the Goliath IBM, triggering an "ah-hah" moment for young consumers who identified with the nonconformist sentiment.
  4. Offer unforgettable savings.
    With the emphasis on saving money these days, a great low price offer will be remembered and passed along to friends and family. There's a strong focus right now among consumers on filling needs rather than wants, so if you can offer special pricing on staples vs. luxury items, then your advertising will deliver a memorable one-two punch. To make your low price offer believable, avoid using too much hyperbole and build trust by supporting your offer with product or service data and testimonials where appropriate. And most of all, guarantee your low price to ensure customers remember you as the place to go for savings.