If your marketing, messaging and events are forgettable you might as well be invisible. If it’s not memorable it’s mediocre. So be remarkable and unforgettable. Here’s how to stand out and get noticed. The secrets come from my personal trip to the Twilight Zone.
This is a True Story
An ice-bound airport in pre-dawn Ithaca, New York. Two travelers sit, cold and waiting. In moments one would learn an unexpected lesson that would last a lifetime. Their plane was bound for Philadelphia but made an unscheduled stop in the Twilight Zone.
Next Stop – The Twilight Zone
Rod Serling was chain-smoking and wrestling a stack of papers. I was sitting a few seats away locked in a silent debate over whether to bother him. I won and lost at the same time. I introduced myself and muttered a cliché he’d heard thousands of times before, “I really appreciate your work.”
Serling was a world-famous author, screenwriter, television producer and winner of multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody awards. And he was the man who created and hosted the Twilight Zone. Serling was teaching at Ithaca College at the time and maybe that gave him a little extra patience with bumbling young people. He muttered a thank you, looked at me and asked, “What do you like about my work?”
I thought for a second, “I like the characters. The stories are wonderful but I like the endings the best. The endings make them special … something I remember.”
Serling stubbed out his Viceroy cigarette, dumped the newspapers on the floor and started talking. “That’s the fillip … a little unexpected something that suddenly changes how you see things. It’s that twist that makes something memorable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a television show, a play, a book or a commercial … if it’s not memorable it’s mediocre.”
That was the hallmark of the Twilight one. The plot took you to the brink of a comfortable conclusion, then, at the last possible minute, he’d throw in a plot twist that would change everything. Think of the fillip as a reset button. All of a sudden you are paying 100% attention and rethinking everything.
Where is the fillip in your messaging? Where is the surprise twist in your marketing? How are your events remarkable and unforgettable? Where is the unexpected “something” that makes doing business with you memorable?
Don’t Be Invisible
• Irrelevant is invisible
• Predictable is invisible
• Formula is invisible
• Boring is invisible
• Unfocused is invisible
• Bad timing is invisible
• Useless energy is invisible
• Anything that’s just like the competition is invisible
Stand Out & Get Noticed
Let’s try a quick experiment. Find some marketing, advertising or communication from your major competition. Substitute your name, the name of your product or the main topic of your meeting or program. Now read it. Can you tell any difference? If you can’t your customers, employees or audiences can’t either. It’s time for a fillip. If you’re forgettable you might as well be invisible. So be remarkable and unforgettable.
Tips from the Twilight Zone
Over the next few minutes Rod Serling talked about writing, marketing and communications. He spoke about the magic of telling stories, the curse of predictability and looking for the unforgettable. I’ve tried to sum up some of what he said. Consider these tips from the Twilight Zone.
Keep it human – businesses and corporations have no feelings or motivations. Put every benefit in “people” terms.
Express things in unexpected ways – but make it realistic and not exaggerated.
Be emotional to connect – not everything has to be “new & exciting!” Every emotion carries a message.
Toss out old, tired approaches – assume they’ve heard it all before. Eject the old promises and come up with some new ones.
Look for one unique, memorable twist that you can claim for your own.
Be Remarkable and Unforgettable
As I hope you can tell this was a major experience for me. After far too little time the plane boarded and that was it. Still Rod Serling kicked me further down the road to where I wanted to go in life. How do you use this story to be remarkable and unforgettable?
All that matters is what people notice, remember and do.
So make a personal pledge to balance the familiar with the intriguing and add a memorable twist to solving a problem or providing a reason to buy – now. Add your own fillip and make your messages unforgettable.
“This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination, the ingredients of the Twilight Zone.”