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How to Make People Remember You as Less Terrible Than You Really Are

Summary Sometimes our products and websites cause pain. Part of the product or service requires visitors to fill in a long form, pay a subscription fee, view ads and so on.

Luckily, the brain isn't very good at remembering these experiences, and focuses on two main points: The worst and the last.

The Science

The most potent examples of studies done to demonstrate the way our mind remembers, were conducted using pain. Participants, who were already going through a painful procedure, were asked to rate their pain levels throughout. They were also asked to rate the experience as a whole once they were done.

It became abundantly clear that our brain does not recall experiences in much detail at all. There is no moment to moment recording going on in our mind. Instead, once the experience is finished, our brain tends to make a sort of summary for itself, making it easier to file away and recall in the future.

The two deciding factors in the summary process are the most intense part of the experience, and the last part of the experience.

End a procedure after 10 minutes on a high note of pain, and it will be remembered as more painful than a 15 minute procedure that ended on a lighter note.

Replace a very painful moment with a longer yet less painful series of moments, and you will be remembered more fondly for it.

The Practice

This principle works for any sort of experience, which includes the experience our customers get while using our products. It also works both negatively and positively.

Just as ending a painful procedure on a a more painful note will make us remember it as more painful, ending a vacation with a skydive, will make us remember it as more fun (assuming you enjoy that sort of thing).

This principle can be used in all sorts of ways. In forms, for example, it is a good idea to lower the user's peak pain by splitting the form into smaller pieces, and have the last few questions be really easy (and even fun).

When selling a subscription, rather than offering a discount on the first payment, try doing so for the last. This way, when it comes time to renew the subscription, it will be remembered more fondly.

There are endless examples of this sort of process. The simplest, and most reliable, is a simple thank you note at the end of the transaction. How to write such a note will be the subject of next week's post.

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