Marketing, Moonwalking With Einstein and Memory Keepers

Moonwalking and Memories

Moonwalking with EinsteinYesterday, I found myself listening to Live Wire, a local radio program that is appropriately weird and irreverent for Portland, OR.  I tuned in to an interview with Joshua Foer, author of the book:  Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Seems Foer, a journalist, was assigned to cover the U.S. Memory Championship.  He does the piece, but found he couldn’t shake his interest in the topic.  He felt these people who could memorize the order of a stack of cards in a half a minute to be “freaks”.

Long story short, Foer studies to become one of these freaks and discovers some very interesting facts.

Memory techniques have been around for 2,500 years or more.  One technique is attributed to Simonides of Ceos around 500 B.C.

I never really thought about it, but it is obvious people needed some method to help them recall the events of the time.  It’s not like there was a local newspaper, radio or a Google search available to them at the time.  So they had these memory tricks to mentally organize information making it easy to recall.

The other interesting story Foer shared was that Socrates was apparently very upset at the prospect of a new technique that was becoming popular in his day.  He felt it would make man lazy and stupid because they wouldn’t be using their brains to capture and store their memories.

What was it?

It was Writing.

Seems Socrates was right as we did forget how to hone our brains in order to hold on to information.

Flash Forward or Moonwalk to Today

We are constantly using technology as our memory keepers.  Foer would say we are “outsourcing” our memories and claims this will become more prevalent in the next 5 or 10 years.

Frankly, as I age, I’m totally fine with outsourcing my memory.

Prior to speed dial, I used to be able to keep dozens of telephone numbers in my head because these memories would speed up my ability to do my job.  I couldn’t recite any phone numbers today, except my own.

If I can’t recall the correct title of book or the band’s name who did Hi-De-Ho, I turn to Google and all is right in my world again.

Can’t remember the grocery list?  Not a problem.  Check my smart phone.

Creating Memories is the Goal of Marketing

But there are some memories we don’t want to outsource or we can’t.

We can’t outsource the deep personal impressions we form about people and places.  We can’t do a Google search about the feeling that comes over us when someone is genuinely interested in helping us find the correct energy efficient light bulb that won’t turn kitchens yellow. Or about that satisfying feeling we have when we leave a restaurant after an thoroughly enjoyable meal and great service.

We remember these experiences as they become etched onto our brains and into our hearts.  We have a feeling of gratitude and positive emotions when we recall these experiences.  These are the experiences we naturally share with our friends and loved ones.

In Socrates time, they would share such experiences in conversation.  Today, we too spread the word, but we do so through using different tools.  We Yelp it, post about it on Facebook, send a tweet.

The ultimate goal of all marketing is to get people talking about their positive experiences with you and your business.

As a business owner – be it brick and mortar or online – you need to craft marketing memories your audience won’t soon forget and that they will want to willingly share with their communities.

This is what they did in the time of Socrates.  This is what we continue to do today.  And this will always be the marketing challenge of business owners in the future.

Let me know if you agree with this premise by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Great post! I have to disagree with Socrates, for sure. Our brains were never meant to be long-term recovery centers for small pieces of info. That’s one of the reasons why most productivity programs and techniques advocate getting crap OUT of the head and onto the page, literally or figuratively. In terms of marketing, though, it’s all about the currency of attention, and cutting through the noise to make an impact. The best way to do that, I think, is through the power of story. We are hardwired to respond emotionally to emotional stories.

    • Annie: Thanks for the comments. Agreed that we are “hardwired to respond emotionally to emotional stories”. And the companies and businesses that are able to tap into that emotion win the day. Given the range of emotions, there should be no shortage of emotional stories, but it seems there are.

      Many thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

  2. Loved this! Memory is fascinating, especially since I know that something will happen and five minutes from now my husband’s recollection of events will somehow be completely different than mine…

    But that’s another story.

    Loved the Socrates/writing thing. Imagine what he would think today! I’m pretty sure that nothing stays in my brain anymore. I outsource my memory to my phone, notebook (real and laptop) and just about anything I can so I don’t even have to TRY to hold onto it (doesn’t work anyway).

    I do think it’s a sign of the times. Technology has made it easy for us to forget – or rather, not bother remembering. 40-ish years later I can still remember my grandmother’s phone number (complete with letters) yet I can’t even remember my own cell number now.

    But you’re right, we have to – want to – remember the memories that evoke emotions. Maybe forgetting extra phone numbers leaves room in our brains for that!

    • Carol: Love the bit about your husband’s recollection versus yours. Think that part has something to do with the genetic coding of guys versus gals.

      Yes, Socrates might have a real fit today, but then he was a pretty smart guy. He may have been convinced that we don’t need to carry all of this little stuff in our heads and he might be just like you…outsourcing the little stuff so he could engage his brain on the more pressing issues.

      Many thanks for your comments.

  3. YES, I knew there was a reason I keep falling in love with you each week 😉

    Einstein one of my fav. This is why I am rebranding – to gain clarity and a much better emotional connection with my offer – so tapping my toes for when it is complete and I can roll out SIGH!

    • Michele: Getting that “emotional connection” does not come easy for many. But I would think, you’ll be able to accomplish that without much of a problem, because you are very expressive – a good trait. Take your time and be patient. I’m certain it will be well worth the wait.

  4. Love this Sheila! I am one of those people that remembers names and faces… it’s really creepy sometimes… but when it comes to my work meeting schedule, I rely very heavily on my calendar & phone. Selective memory I guess! :)

    • Good for you, Kellie. Wish I could remember names. I can get the face, but connecting it with a name is a struggle. Moonwalking apparently has some pretty impressive tricks for those of us who do struggle.

    • Thanks for your comments, Paul.

      Yes, story telling can have a positive effect…but so can the personalized touch that often business owners ignore. I’d suggest trying both.

  5. I still do a little math in my head now and then to make sure I remember how. :)) Technology has spoiled us on one hand, but we still have to THINK to learn how to use tools efficiently. Great post

  6. Sheila, You mean Socrates didn’t have Google search back then? lol Good article… I loved Joe’s answer.. :) Overall, I love the idea of creating positive marketing stories or stories to market with your audience. And bingo, that I could remember phone numbers back in the day, but it’s all too easy with smart phones now. I liked this post and going to reread it again. :)

    • Hi, Jeff.

      Given that Socrates wasn’t a fan of “writing”, have this feeling he would have been very resistant to the computer. But, who knows? Perhaps he could’ve been convinced once he saw all of the information that is available at one’s finger’s tips. Take care,


  7. Just reading the title of your post created a visual memory. Einstein moonwalking was absolutely memorable. I had to chuckle at the outsourcing of memory, especially phone numbers. Remember rotary phones? Not only did you need to remember the number, it took forever to dial. Since most people don’t want memories of small biz finance, it’s particularly important for me to create fun, memorable sotries.

    • Nicole…
      Einstein silhouetted against the moon light sliding backwards. Love it!

      Yes, I do recall the old rotary phones…my grandmother still had one of the original in her house…had to be 70-80 years old.

      Yes, I think it is important for all of us to create fun and memorable stories as that is the nature of today’s marketing.

      Many thanks for your comments.

  8. I think this is the major reason marketing has been moving from a “throw messages at the market” to “create experiences for the market.” People remember *doing* things way more than they remember seeing/hearing things. Great post :)

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