It all began on July 23, 1991In a convenience store on Northern Avenue in Phoenix, AZ, the manager had placed a couple of signs above his cash registers. His intention was to encourage his patrons to buy more ice during the hot desert summer. I lived across the street from this store and came to know him. Rick was working one day as I made a purchase. This time I paused and asked him how his ice sales were going. I am intrigued by word choice and the resulting behavioral outcomes.
You see, the signs above the cash registers read:
DON’T FORGET THE ICE
I asked Rick how sales were going. His reply was less than favorable. I paused and asked if I could make a suggestion. I mean, after all, this was Phoenix—in the desert—in the middle of the summer. (110+ degrees in the shade)
“Rick, do you have a couple of pieces of paper and a magic marker?” I inquired. He gave me the items and I quickly made two new signs for him.
REMEMBER THE ICE
I left with a knowing smile and purposely stayed away for about a month. When I went back to the store, I spoke with Rick about his recent ice sales. “What did you do? My sales are up over 500% in the last 30 days!!”
I smiled and asked him a simple question:
“If I say to you: Don’t think of the color blue. What color are you thinking of?”
“Why blue of course” he replied.
Now if I say “don’t forget the ice”, what will you forget?
“Hmmm… the ice.“
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Cornelis de Maijer