Diet Cherry Limeades and the Power of Elaboration

My wife is a brilliant marketer even though she’s not in marketing. Her secret weapon: Diet Cherry Limeades. But really, her secret weapon is elaboration. Even though my wife has never had formal marketing training, she intuitively knows that elaborate marketing messages are stronger.

My wife is a pharmaceutical sales rep and one of her drugs is a “triple combination” drug, meaning it combines three drugs in one pill. Here’s how she uses elaboration to help doctors remember the benefits of her drug. She arrives at a doctor’s office with some Diet Cherry Limeades from the local Sonic Drive-In, and asks the doctor if he’s heard of them before. She then explains that they are delicious and offers the doctor a taste. Then she equates the three ingredients of Diet Cherry Limeades (cherry, lime, lemonade) with the three ingredients of her triple combination drug. She explains how the three ingredients of her drug work together to minimize side effects, just like the diet part of a Diet Cherry Limeade minimizes the calories.

This is quite a different approach than is taken my most pharmaceutical reps who cite research and information from product inserts (which my wife also does). And the tactic works quite well. Doctors will later, almost exactly, repeat my wife’s message to her in subsequent calls. Her triple combination message was sticky because it was elaborate.

Elaborate for Memorable Messaging

As I wrote last year, elaborate messages are stronger because the extra information given at the moment of learning makes learning better, especially if that extra information is not complex. As Caroline Latham explains over on Sharp Brains, elaboration improves memory by creating a rich context of extra-sensory information. “By weaving a web of information around that fact, you create multiple access points to that piece of information.”

My wife involves several senses in her presentation: sight, sound, taste and touch. Then she combines two unrelated and unexpected products into one powerful elaboration cocktail. Her triple combination message has more significance because elaborate details add meaning.

So how can you add meaning to your marketing message to make it more elaborate? Diet Cherry Limeades anyone?

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  1. […] Stickiness: Be memorable. I see a lot of businesses sponsoring events or local causes to get their name out there. They receive the obligatory name on the t-shirt and logo in the program. This just doesn’t cut it. If you’re going to put your name out there, make your exposure memorable. One way to do this is to create a rich context of extra information around your business name. This is called message elaboration. […]

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