Marketing is a profession marked by new technologies and marketing concepts. But marketing is also about taking tried and true concepts and repackaging them in a way that is easy to grasp and is still relevant in today’s fast paced world. That is done remarkably well in the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.
I first heard about this book while attending this year’s HOW Design Live Conference. Referred to as a must-read by one presenter, I completely agree with after checking it out for myself. The book’s overall message is the importance good communication plays in promoting a memorable or “sticky” idea. It’s not necessarily the concept that makes it successful, but how the message is delivered.
The book explains that a “sticky idea" is understood, it’s remembered and it changes something” and all sticky ideas have six traits in common, known as the SUCCESs Model - Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories. (Click here to see a quick chart explaining each principle.) The more an idea can integrate these traits within its message, the stickier or memorable it will be.
So why do I love this book? Well as any good book does, it made me think about the way I and those I work with present ideas. Working in-house within professional services firms, my clients tend to be highly intelligent people, which I love. But one thing they almost always have in common, they’re too smart for their own good. They use decks that have 75 slides with at least 15 bullet points each. They use complex charts that usually takes ten minutes for them to explain what they mean and most often aren’t even relevant. They like to use big words and complex concepts that ultimately pass over their clients' heads. Made to Stick refers to it as the “curse of knowledge.” Tackled by the very first principle, the book explains that keeping your message simple isn’t about dumbing down the content. Rather, prioritizing, focusing and stripping your message down to its core concept makes it stronger, easier to grasp and ultimately more effective. The fourth, fifth and sixth principles also explains that effective ideas move away from robot statistics and connect with their audience in ways that are relatable, responsive and that tells a story.
Released in 2007 and written by Chip and Dan Heath, Made to Stick is insightful, motivational and thought-provoking. It's a great book to add to your reference shelf, discuss with colleagues and offers guidelines to help you create more effective and memorable marketing materials.