Memory, Persuasion, and B2B Marketing
Mike Darnell
March 2023

Memory, Persuasion, and B2B Marketing – Video summary

For the full article scroll below.

In previous posts, we already introduced one of the most popular psychological memory models – Atkinson and Shiffrin’s model of memory (1968), also known as “the Multi-Store Model”. According to this model, memory is actually composed of three types of stores:

  • Sensory memory – AKA Iconic memory.
  • Short-term memory – AKA Working memory
  • Long-term memory – AKA Explicit memory

Understanding memory types

Understanding the differences between these types of memory will help us understand how information, including our b2b marketing materials, are perceived and processed by our audiences.

Iconic memory

This form of visual sensory memory lasts for a fraction of a second after a visual stimulus is presented. It allows us to retain an image of what we have seen in our mind’s eye for a brief moment before it fades away.

Working memory, AKA Short term memory

Working memory, on the other hand, is the cognitive system responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information in our mind to complete a task. It is an active system that allows us to keep relevant information in our mind while we perform a task.

Long-term memory

Long term memory is what we think of when we use the word “memory” colloquially. This is the data store that holds our personal archive of lived experiences, and learned knowledge. A person with no long term memory lives in an eternally disjointed present, with no understanding of who, what, or where they are, and how they got there.
The psychological definitions for iconic and working memory are very clear in indicating that both these data stores have severe temporal and capacity limitations. They can’t store much, and they can only store it for a very short time.
Long-term memory is the type of memory that allows us to store information over an extended period of time, potentially indefinitely. It is an essential component of learning and influences our behavior and decision-making processes.

B2B Marketing and Memory

When it comes to how we relate to the B2B and B2C marketing we’re exposed to, each type of memory supports different aspects of the experience and interaction. We’ll look at “the how” next. 

Leverage Iconic Memory to foster familiarity

Iconic memory’s importance for marketing is crucial, because this is the aspect of memory that facilitates our ability to immediately recognize familiar logos, brand colors, and similar visual cues. Without an iconic memory, we would not be able to quickly associate a certain brand or product with visual cues – speed is the key word here.  
The best way to effectively leverage your audiences’ iconic memory is to focus on creating ads, product packaging, and other marketing materials that help them quickly and efficiently process any iconic visual information presented – E.g. If your facility is ISO certified, be sure to use the standard ISO certification logos in your marketing materials, because they’re the ones that will be most easily noticed by your audience.  

B2B is about Central Route Persuasion

f your facility is ISO certified, be sure to use the standard ISO certification logos in your marketing materials, because your audience will be more likely to notice them. This is especially true for the high-stakes decisions that are the norm for B2B, where buyers need to consider multiple factors and weigh the pros and cons of different options. As such B2B negotiations and sales processes are typically reliant on Central Route Persuasion.
In this form of persuasion, consumers are most motivated to make a purchasing decision when they’re presented with an adequate amount of detailed and compelling information about the solutions under consideration. 
Successfully leveraging Central Route Persuasion typically leads the persuaded audience to develop strong attitudes and beliefs in favor of their chosen solution, and fosters long-term loyalty and repeat purchases – Ideal for B2B relationships.

Central Route Persuasion needs Working Memory

Central Route Persuasion demands your audience think and evaluate data – Processes that rely heavily on Working Memory.
Working memory is your audience’s capacity  to hold and manipulate information. They’re using their working memory whenever they’re considering the pros and cons of your offer. For example, when they’re evaluating the arguments you put forward to support your Central Route Persuasion…
It’s important to note that while Central Route Persuasion is the persuasion methodology most likely to eventually sway an audience of B2B buyers, it does have a couple of serious drawbacks that must be planned for: 
  1. It’s effortful – Central Route Persuasion requires your audience to actively engage in thinking, and since this is an effortful and tiring process, it’s usually a good idea to schedule meetings with your client’s buying team in the morning, or right after lunch, when everyone is still sharp and energetic. Remember – The more fatigued your negotiating partners are, the higher the likelihood of them opting for their default behavior, and rejecting your offer.
  2. It’s time-consuming – Central Route Persuasion requires time for properly setting down and evaluating arguments, as well as time for detailed back and forth discussions and ample Q&A. Make sure to either schedule enough time to go over everything at leisure in one sitting, or pre-plan follow-up sessions for Q&A etc.

Memory? You mean Long Term Memory…

To be remembered, in the classic sense of the word, you, your company and your messaging must all find a way into your audiences’ Long Term Memory.  Its importance to marketers is paramount – If your buyers can retrieve from their long-term memory, at their moment of relevance, positive associations for your company’s solutions and service, they’re more likely to choose you again. Always aim to create marketing materials that are memorable, emotionally engaging, and create positive associations with your brand or product. These are the types of materials that are most likely to get stored in your buyers’ long-term memory, hopefully to be retrieved when they’re making their purchase decisions.


In summation, it should be obvious by now that marketers who are truly committed to optimizing their company’s messaging and marketing materials must have at the very least a basic awareness of how memory works, and how, as a cognitive process, it can be leveraged in order to promote the favorable outcome your company is hoping to achieve in its interactions with buyers. 
The simple reality is that as marketers we’re jostling for our spot on the cluttered and overcrowded field that is our buyer’s memory. Without careful consideration of how we are perceived there we may never get the opportunity to even be remembered and considered as an alternative.
Marketers must leverage every technique at their disposal to maximize the likelihood their marketing materials will be remembered. Be sure to check out out blog for future posts when we’ll disclose how techniques, such as repetition, emotional appeal, and brand storytelling, can support this effort.

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