You may not be so memorable!

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
by Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence on November 27, 2020
Business development tips from Goldfinger
January 20, 2020

This article is for business development professionals. How ‘memorable’ are you now? (What are the odds you are memorable in an on-line world)?

Is James Bond memorable?

Film fans everywhere were saddened by the passing away of Sir Sean Connery

I had a look at the background to the career of Sean Connery as James Bond. An iconic role in cinematic history. His interpretation of it recognised globally. However…it appears this is not always the case. I quote an anecdote from Sir Sean.

The first job of Sir Sean Connery was as a milkman in Edinburgh. According to the legend this was with the Cooperative Society of St Cuthbert in Edinburgh. Connery in an interview recalled a conversation that took place in a taxicab in Edinburgh shortly after his Oscar win. It went something like this:

When I took a taxi during a recent Edinburgh Film Festival, the driver was amazed that I could put a name to every street we passed.

“How come?” he asked.

“As a boy I used to deliver milk round here,” I said.

 “So, what do you do now?” That was rather harder to answer.

Thought provoking. In spite of immense international publicity this is the memorablity of Sir Sean in his home town. For us mortals not headlining in a billion-dollar global film franchise what is the likelihood of our own memorability?

The importance of context

As a reflection you would not expect:

  • Sean Connery in an Edinburgh Taxi
  • James Bond to have been a milkman

How is memorable information connected?

Are you likely to be memorable?

One outcome of the COVID-era is virtual methods replacing face-to-face communication. If you are involved in business development you will have rethought your ‘face-to-face’ or ‘in person’ prospecting. These on-line actions make you a lot less memorable than you think. I turn to the Merriam-Webster definition of memorability.

‘The quality or state of being easy to remember or worth remembering

This is the critical feature of the business development arguments we promote into our marketplace.

The science of being memorable

Professor Herman Ebbinghaus ran a series of memory experiments. These calculated the rate at which something is forgotten. The ‘forgetting curve’ is initially steep but then retention starts to level off.

Is your 60-second pitch memorable?

How does this impact the likelihood of being memorable through virtual prospecting? Since the times of Mark Twain, business development has a starting point described as the: ‘know, like and trust’ requirement. Can you create this requirement through an on-line presence?

Social capital is fixed: spread thickly or thinly

Remaining memorable is more difficult without socialisation delivered through human contact. Being referrable requires being able to communicate specific features of why your introduction would be valuable. It is as basic as that…no more and no less. Since social distancing there are two strategies available to us virtually. Both can work and either can fail.

  • Mass announcements
  • Personalised communication

At 5next Software we are fanatical regarding the science behind business development results. We apply maths to the rainmaking process. The foundation of the numbers is the arithmetic behind the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. This is the initial formula:

R = e-t/s

This logic disturbs the wisdom of the ’60-second introduction’ and the close cousin referred to as the ‘elevator pitch’…let me explain what this formula means:

  • R – Refers to retention of information
  • E – Refers to the Euler number
  • S – Refers to the strength of memory regarding the information
  • T – Refers to the timeframe that the information is retained

More science regarding memorability

This logic is vital in terms of managing relationships based on brief encounters. We believe that this formula is the pre-requisite in measuring networks of connections. Also we consider four more factors which impact even more on the potential of being memorable:

  1. How meaningful your services are
  2. How skilful you are at presenting how meaningful you are
  3. The timing of this new information
  4. The alternative connections available 

I think ‘alternative connections available’ has a disproportionate impact on this formula. If you are looking to be memorable in a crowded field you must review who are the alternative players. Therefore as social capital is fixed you can spread this capital thickly across a niche group or thinly across as many connections as you like.

Does the context of text, voice and webcam with no face-to-face contact give you a platform to be as memorable as Sean Connery in his home town?

Competing to be memorable

Are you likely to be memorable? If you are in a marketplace where there are other players then you are in competition for those relationships. Taking further the popularity of  James Bond. Mr. Bond was not the only ’60’s’ spy character. How well do you recall Matt Helm?

Matt Helm

Matt Helm V. James Bond

Me…not so much…my memory is Dean Martin impersonating James Bond in a very cheesy manner. (Although Connery, to my knowledge, could not sing; ‘That’s amore’). Super spy Helm converted into 4 movies fading away in 1968. (Bond is currently 25 films and counting).

Another competing spy character was Derek Flint. James Coborn as Flint in the same super-spy market place. I recall Coburn in the ‘Magnificent Seven’ as Britt the knife thrower. Flint delivered two movies ending in 1967.

Derek Flint

Derek Flint V. James Bond

Can you recall Jason Love? Me neither…nor can Wikipedia…it is actually David Niven in: ‘Where the spies are’. That lasted one outing. (I remember Mr Niven within the context of the Pink Panther).

Jason Love

Jason Love V James Bond

No sibling actor survives comparison with an older brother like Sean Connery. Brother Neil had the good fortune to be in ‘OK Connery’ that included many of the Bond team. 


Neil Connery V. Sean Connery

These films were in the same space as Sir Sean portraying James Bond. However these other spy characters are barely remembered today. 

When you think of Bond you think of Connery and when you think of Connery you think of Bond.

What are you memorable for online?

When people think of a service do they think of you and when they think of you do they think of that service?

In terms of business development think long and hard regarding your competition. Can you compete with long established pre-COVID-19 relationships via on-line activity? What is the likelihood that you can?

The most successful business development players are connected to niche activities. Although Connery was unhappy to be typecast as Bond the learning outcome is that to be recalled you will need to be ‘typecast’ in someway.

  • Sean Connery owned James Bond who owned the spy genre.
  • Dean Martin was known for being an entertainer playing Matt Helm.
  • James Coburn was know as a cowboy portraying Derek Flint.
  • David Niven was Phileas Fogg in the role of Jason Love.
  • Neil Connery was the brother of Sean playing the brother of Bond.

In what context will you be memorable for in this noisy on-line environment and will that context help you build new relationships?


This business development article is is written for 5next sales enablement software by Bob Spence business development coach at legal consultancy Wilkinson Read & Partner. (They have celebrated their 26th anniversary). Bob also works alongside Bratislava based people development specialist Ivan Kosalko and cross culture communication coach Kasia Lanucha. He is currently the Director of International Business Development, Centre for Digital Innovation [C4DI]


J. Robert Spence © 2020

How memorable are you?
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Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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