Some helpful ideas to make your message stick

I just finished reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s an informative book that explains what many of us know on an intuitive level, but may have difficulty articulating or convincing others:  you will have far greater success getting a message through to an audience if it’s simple, concrete and credible.  If you can tell a story that is unexpected and/or evokes an emotional response, your message’s “stickiness” or success in being remembered and acted on, increases.

The authors say: “A sticky idea is one that people understand when they hear it, that they remember later on, and that changes the way they think or act. We all need to make our ideas stick sometimes. Managers need to share the new strategy with employees. Teachers need to get ideas across to their students. Parents need to give advice to teenagers.”

At the core of the book is a formula for creating sticky ideas coined SUCCESS, a helpful acronym to make the concepts sticky in your mind.  Here’s a general summary of the core concepts:

S simple – strip an idea down to its core
U unexpected – make your idea jump out and grab people’s attention
C concrete – keep it easy to grasp or understand
C credible – is the idea or message believable?
E emotional – people react to emotion, how do you get people to care?
S stories – story telling is an age-old form of communication

The authors demonstrate that a person with no advertising experience once taught these basic principles, can be more successful in communicating and creating ads than those who are talented in creating ads but don’t apply the principles.

One story in the book is about Jared, an overweight college student who lost 100lbs in 3 months by eating 2 subs per day. Subway’s head office marketing team kiboshed the idea of creating an ad campaign around Jared.  The franchisee in Jared’s town and a local ad agency saw it as an opportunity to create a simple, credible campaign out-of-pocket that eventually catapulted Subway into sandwich fame.  Jared’s story of losing weight landed him on Oprah, a book deal and pushed Subway’s sales up 18% in one year.

If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s books such as the Tipping Point and Blink, I think you’ll find this book an interesting and well-written read that provides some helpful suggestions to communicate more effectively. - Maria Loscerbo