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Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath

Posted on the 06 April 2017 by Matt Jackson @MattJacksonUk1

The book Made to Stick by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, starts with the premise that there is a formula for an idea that sticks in our heads, and therefore that you can manufacture a sticky idea for your own purpose.

-> Check it out on Amazon here. Made Stick Chip Heath

It begins with the breakdown of why urban legends spread, outlining the classic "kidney heist" myth, before breaking down the key rules, summarised below.

The Made to Stick SUCCESs Model

While you don't need all 6 traits in your idea for it to be sticky, they are all valuable in their own way, and will help your idea become much more effective.

Principle 1: Simple

An idea must be as succinct as possible, the core of the message, with all unnecessary extras removed. For example, Southwest will be "THE low-fare airline".

Principle 2: Unexpected

If someone can predict the answer, then you will lose their attention, and likewise to gain attention you should violate their current schema (what they expect to happen), for example a . This can be combined with curiosity gaps, which play on the presumption of things most people will not know, for example "What are Saturn's rings made of?".

Principle 3: Concrete

An idea must be concrete, using sensory language that help to paint a picture in someones mind. The analogy of this is using a Velcro theory of memory, where you want to hook into multiple types of memory at once.

Principle 4: Credible

Ideas must be credible if they are to be believed, which can be gained from outside authorities or from within, using human level statistics or vivid descriptions that show infinite detail. You could allow people to try before they buy so that the product can prove its own credibility.

Principle 5: Emotional

People are more likely to care about other people, as opposed to inanimate objects or statistics. Think about the target demographic, their morals and their own "perceived identity", which can be used in a message to influence their emotions.

Principle 6: Stories

The two main parts of a story that drive action are through simulation (what to do) or through inspiration (motivation to act), it helps people envisage how a problem might be solved.

Examples of Sticky Ideas

One of the main examples in the book of a sticky idea is John F Kennedy's "Man on the Moon" speech, an extract of which is included below:

"However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

This contains many of the principles, including the simple (man on the moon) phrase, and the emotional (a great national effort of the United States of America).


A great book, and the accompanying online resources including the quick reference sheet have proven useful when crafting marketing ideas for business in practice.
-> Buy the book on Amazon here.

Made Stick Chip Heath

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