Mental Anchors

Crappy commercials suck. You hate watching them, listening to them, being bombarded by them at every second of every damn day. But... some of them. SOME of them get you. Some of them trick you into listening.

I think it’s almost impossible to get your message across to your target audience without offering them a reason to. I call this a “mental anchor.” It’s the 10-15 seconds you use to unlock the listeners mind.

This can come in many different forms. The easiest example to identify is through comedy. A commercial begins with something entertaining to draw the listener’s attention. This is where many of these ads fall apart. Don’t use advertising as a chance to do stand up comedy. The joke you use must have purpose. It must be memorable. It absolutely must be attached to your business. You don’t want to air “that funny commercial that was for ... uh ... I don’t remember.”

A mental anchor is anything your listener can relate to. It doesn’t have to be funny. It just has to be something that makes someone agree with you. Once you make them agree with you on a topic, you have common ground. When you have common ground, you’re more likely to be able to successfully introduce a new idea (your business.) I began this article with a mental anchor. Almost everyone can agree that commercials suck. Almost everyone can also agree that they have enjoyed a select few commercials though.

Keep the idea simple. Remember, we’re talking mass media here. Ideally, we want as many people to agree with you as possible. Think simplistically.

  • Taxes suck
  • Investing is boring
  • Potholes = bad

Take these simple ideas, and make them entertaining, intriguing, funny. Take a simple idea, and make it memorably different.

  • Taxes suck. But, being arrested for tax evasion and thrown into a prison cell with a guy name “Knife Fists” is worse.
  • Investing is boring. But it needs to be boring. Because excitement in an investment usually comes in the form of stress. We’re the most boring insurance company you’ve ever met.
  • Potholes in this city are the worst. They wreck your car. ABC autobody offers you their anti-pothole service.

Use invented words like “Anti-Pothole.” That’s another mental anchor. When you invent a word, and use it in all of your advertising, it becomes synonymous with your business. Your business now owns its own word (which by the way, opens up some very interesting possibilities in the world of URLs and SEO keywords.)

A mental anchor will make people listen. It will make people remember you. Most importantly, it’s something you need to do to insure that you’re noticed. You can’t just deliver a message that screams your prices at people. I mean... you can... but you’ll waste your money. Give your listeners a reason to pay attention to you. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have their undivided attention for 10-15 seconds. That’s when you talk about you. Just never forget that you need to earn that time first.