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Total Recall

Find out what the latest research can teach you about creating ads your prospects won't forget.

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This story appears in the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Companies spend billions of marketing dollars each year to design memorable ad campaigns. But what does it really take to make your business's name or message stick in a prospect's mind? These methods will make your next campaign memorable:

  • Engage prospects. The more time someone spends with your ad, the more likely he or she is to remember it. "Vivid processing leads to better storage of memory," says Elizabeth F. Loftus, University of California, Irvine, distinguished professor of psychology, author of 21 books and an expert on memory malleability. The best ads get the advertiser or brand into the minds of prospects as they consider different possibilities.

How can you get prospects to spend more time with your ads? According to Philip W. Sawyer, director of Starch Communications, a Harrison, New York, testing firm specializing in readership studies, the most memorable print ads have messages that grab the reader. Those ads include headlines that contain a benefit and a strong visual focal point, such as a close-up of a model looking directly at you. One large photo works best in magazines, while in newspapers, you can use multiproduct visuals. A Starch Communications study on behalf of the Newspaper Association of America showed that when three-quarters of ad space was devoted to illustrations, recognition rates improved by 50 percent.

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