How to Structure Important Business Information for Maximum Impact?

Keywords – Recency Effect – Serial Position Effect – Peak End Rule

When was the last time you watched a great movie? And, more importantly, what do you remember from the movie?

Research suggests that you are more likely to remember a movie as good if you liked the ending. (This is sometimes referred to the peak end rule).

There are other associated phenomena with this case too.

You are more likely the remember the beginning and the end, as compared to the middle bits.

Experiments constantly confirm this behaviour.

When given a list of items, you are more likely to remember the top and bottom items when asked to recall afterwards. When in pain, people remember the instance that led to it and their most recent state, with little recall of the levels of pain during the suffering period.

This tendency to remember the closest item in a recollection is called the recency effect. And, remembering the beginning and the end better than the middle bits is referred to as the serial position effect.

But, why does this happen.

Reasons for the Recency and Serial Position Effects

Multiple reasons have been theorised to explain the phenomena. But, the following makes the most sense.

The beginning and near items are generally stored in the dormant memory. This part of the memory goes through more processing than other bits. We simply give it more attention at a given time. And, hence, it is easier to recall.

These phenomena are not limited to day to day activities. In fact, businesses can learn a lot from this too.

Using Recency Effect in Marketing

In psychological terms, the recency effect creates a cognitive bias – we will write another blog on cognitive bias at a later date.

The gist of the idea is, cognitive bias is a deviation from what will be expected as a normal reaction. So, this is your window to try and impress your target.

  1. In a sense of application, in a business pitch, start and end with a bang and people will remember you positively. Fill the middle with information that plays the role of closing the gaps. So, even if this information is not remembered, the main bits will have a better platform to impact.
  2. Similarly, if you are going to provide a link on an online ad to drive traffic, put it right at the end. Use the rest of the time to drive your targets towards the final action.

Here goes our effort of recency effect.

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