No, I’m not referring to the kind of sticky that comes from putting your hand in the honey jar. I’m thinking about sticky as it relates to memory, something that stays there for a long time.
Anna and I watched the Disney movie ‘Inside Out’ (worth seeing if you have not) and it was an interesting take on what happens to our thoughts and memories. It was funny, well done as most Pixar movies are and got me thinking about what we do at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies. We often describe our gifts as ‘leaving a lasting impression long after the last crumb is gone’.
I also received a phone call recently from a former customer because we created a memory for her. One of her employers used to send our cookies as gifts to their employees. She decided to start sending gifts to her clients and called us because of that memory.
One of the first things she said was how she remembered getting our cookies on her birthday and work anniversary, a simple ‘thank you’ gift from her company letting her know she was valued and appreciated. This was years ago and I’m wondering, of all the things the HR department did, how many of them stood out like the simple gesture of remembering employees with a box of cookies on their birthday and work anniversary?
Jim Karrh, a friend and former classmate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, is a consultant helping companies focus on managing the message they send to customers and employees. I subscribe to his email newsletter (you can too by tapping here to visit his website) and he shared this story in a recent post:
“I see a widespread assumption among managers that the main way to improve productivity is to set tough goals and push people. Yet we’re learning that employees who feel appreciated are more productive and loyal. An on-the-job study of 41 university fundraisers, all of whom were working on fixed salaries, confirmed this. For half of the group, the development director visited them in person to say, “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The other half of the group received no extra expression of thanks.
What do you think happened? During the next week, the group who received direct thanks increased the number of calls they made by 50 percent, while the control group made the same number of calls as they had the previous week.”
– Jim Karrh, Managing the Message
Thinking about the movie, Jim’s quote, our business, and my own life, I believe two factors make a particular event or experience memorable: the unexpected and emotional connections.
It happens to all of us. We get caught up in the routine of life and business. But then, when something unexpected happens, either good or bad, we stop for a minute and that’s when the memory kicks in – like when someone gives us a real, sincere, ‘thank you’, that is totally unexpected.
Another powerful memory generator happens when we make an emotional connection. When I smell strawberries, I think of Mom’s strawberry cake she always made on my birthday. When I say the words ‘my daughter’ I am transported back to that dimly lit room where she came into the world and I saw her for the first time. Both evoke emotions tied to permanent memories. Do you have memories from emotional triggers? I bet you do.
While I’m flattered when people refer to me as ‘the cookie man’, (this happened just the other day at a Raleigh Chamber luncheon), I smile knowing that we are really in the business of creating ‘sticky memories’. When someone opens the package and bites into a cookie or brownie, I’d like to think two things happen. First, they are pleasantly surprised. And second, they are transported back to a time in their youth when they sat around a plate of cookies their Mom or someone special just made.
I have no way of confirming exactly how many of the tens of thousands of packages we’ve sent out over the years created an experience that ended up tucked away somewhere in the memory banks of the person who opened the box and tasted our cookies and brownies. But I can say with certainty that it did for the customer who called us recently, and probably a few more.
Sticky memories. For a company in the business of creating memorable experiences, that’s a pretty sweet reward.