Content marketing is always focused on leaving an impression, no matter the audience — prospective customers, industry analysts, the press. After all, the first step to getting people talking about you is to get them to remember you. The mandate to be memorable is a key driver of creativity in our industry, from Coca-Cola’s classic Hilltop ad to modern campaigns like Marriott’s branded films and the omnichannel Live in Levi’s campaign.

Our efforts to stretch the boundaries of creativity can go farther, however, if we actually understand the mechanics of memory building. Percolate and content marketing creation company Ceros teamed up to explain exactly that in our new interactive report, How To Create Memorable Content. It goes deep into the elements of marketing that will leave an impression, as well as how human memory works.

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While the exact “how” of memory creation is still being argued, most of the discussion revolves around the Atkinson–Shiffrin model, proposed in 1968 by psychology professors Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin and modified by several others since then. There are four general process steps:

Step 1: Perception

This is you experiencing the world in the moment; any stimuli you sense enters your memory for at least a brief moment. That memory either ends right there, floating away from your consciousness forever — or, you start paying attention (a somewhat rare commodity these days) and move on to the next step.

Step 2: Working Memory

You’re able to keep a few things in mind for a few seconds or moments. When you remember someone’s name only long enough to shake their hand, working memory is the process your mind is using. Psychologist George Miller found that this lets us memorize a string of up to around seven random digits at any one time, which is perfect for memorizing a number just long enough to save it in your smartphone.

Step 3: Consolidation

If something’s important or interesting enough, you can consciously or unconsciously store things for later recall in your long-term memory. There are lots of things that impact your ability to do this, like how long you keep something in your working memory; how frequently an experience happens (we all remember our usual commute routes); and how similar it is to other memories.

Step 4: Retrieval

This is the process of actually remembering something. You can do this either actively — such as when you try to conjure up where you left your missing phone — or at the prompt of retrieval cues. If I ask you the name of the first U.S. president, “George Washington” might spring to mind; or, for a more brand-based example, when you see the words “Just do it,” you might retrieve the brand Nike.

Percolate and Ceros’ How To Create Memorable Content walks through these steps and gives you a guide for actually tailoring content marketing to the science of human memory. Explore the report to start learning how to stay top of mind among your audience.