Creating memorable ideas

This book is one of the more popular business books this year, and has already been reviewed elsewhere on this site. Given this, rather than providing another 'good stuff' summary about an obviously popular book (and with many more on Amazon, accessible by following the link), I instead have chosen to provide, for your education and reference, an excerpt from the book's appendix which highlights the key ideas:

What Sticks?

Kidney heists. Halloween candy. Health campaigns against movie popcorn. Each demonstrate elements common to sticky ideas.

Six principles: S-U-C-C-E-Ss, Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional Stories

The curse of knowledge- If you already know something, it's hard to communicate it to someone that doesn't. 'It's hard to be a tapper', i.e., tapping out the rhythm of a tune someone else is listening to and attempting to properly recognize it is very difficult (and thus rarely successful).

The key elements for stickiness are:

  1. Simple

    FIND THE CORE.

    Commander's Intent. Determine the single most important thing, 'THE low-fare airline'" Inverted pyramid. Don't bury the lead. The pain of decision paralysis. Beat decision paralysis through relentless prioritization. "It's the economy, stupid." Clinic: Sun exposure, Names, names, names.

    SHARE THE CORE.

    Simple = core + compact. Proverbs: sound bites that are profound. Visual proverbs: The Palm Pilot wood block. How to pack a lot of punch into a compact communication: (1) Using what's there. Tap into existing schemas. The pomelo. (2) Create a high concept pitch: "Die Hard on a bus." (3) Use generative analogy: Disney's "cast members".

  2. Unexpected

    GET ATTENTION WITH SURPRISE

    The successful flight safety announcement. Break a pattern! Break people's guessing machines (on a core issues). The surprise brow: a puase to collect information. Avoid gimmicky surprise - make it "posdictable". "The Nordie who..." "There will be no school next Thursday." Clinic: Too much on foreign aid?

    HOLD ATTENTION AND INTEREST

    Create a mystery. What are Saturn's rings made of? Screenplays as models of generating curiosicyt. The Gap Theory of Curiosity. Highlight a knowledge gap. Use the newsw-teaser approach. "Which local restaurant has slime in the ice machine." Clinic: Fund-raisign. Priming the gap. How Roon Arledge made NCAA football interesting to nonfans. Hold long-term interest:  the "pocketable radio" and the "man on the moon".

  3. Concrete

    HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND AND REMEMBER

    Write with the concreteness of a fable. (Sour grapes). Make abstraction concrete. The Nature Conservancy's landscapes as eco-celebrities. Provide a concrete context: Asian teachers' approach to teaching math. Put people into the story; accounting class taught with a soap opera. use the Velcro theory of memory - the more hooks in your idea, the better. Brown eyes, blue eyes - a simulation that "cured' racial prejudice.

    HELP PEOPLE COORDINATE

    Engineers vs manufacturers. Find common ground at a shared level of understanding. Set common goals in tangible terms. Our plane will land on runway 4-22. Make it real: The Ferraris go to Disney World. Why concreteness helps: white thinggs vs white things in your refrigerator. Create a turf where people can bring their knowledge to bear: "The VC pitch and the maroon portfolio." Clinic: Oral Rehydration Therapy. Talk about people, not data: Hamburger Helper's in-home visits and "Saddleback Sam'.

  4. Credible

    HELP PEOPLE BELIEVE

    The Nobel-winning ulcer insight no one believed. Flesh-eating bannanas.

    EXTERNAL CREDIBILITY

    Authority and antiauthority. Para Laffin, smoker.

    INTERNAL CREDIBILITY 

    Use convincing details. Jurors and the Darth Vader toothbrush. The dancing seventy-three year old.

    Make statistics accessible. Nuclear warheads asBBs. The Human Scale principle. Stephen Covey's analogy of a workplace to a soccer team. Clink: Shark Attack Hysteria.

    Find an example that passes the Sinatra Test. "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." Transporting Bollywood movies: "We handled Harry Potter and your brother's board exams." A business friendly environmentalist and the textile factory that actually purified the water that fed it - and yielded fabric that was edible."

    Use testable credentials. "Try before you buy." Where's the beef? Snapple supports the KKK? Coaches: It's easier to tear down than to build up. Filling the emotional Tank. NBA rookie orientation. "These women all have AIDS".

  5. Emotional

    MAKE PEOPLE CARE

    The Mother Teresa principle: If I look at one, I will act. People donate more to Rokia than to a huge swath of Africa. The truth: anti-smoking campaign - what made kids care was not health concerns but anticorporate rebellion.

    USE THE POWER OF ASSOCIATION

    The need to fight semantic stretch: the diluted meaning of "relativity" and why "unique" isn't unqiue anymore. Transforming "sportsmanship" into "honoring the game."

    APPEAL TO SELF_INTEREST (AND NOT JUST BASE SELF-INTEREST)

    Mail-order ads - "They laughed when I sat down at the piano..." Cable television in Tempe: visualizing what it could do for you. Avoid Maslov's basement: our false asumption that other people are baser than we are. Floyd Lee and his Iraq mess tent: "I'm in charge of morale".

    APPEAL TO IDENTITY

  6. Stories

    STORIES AS SIMULATION (TELL PEOPLE HOW TO ACT)

    The day the heart monitor lied: how the nurse acted. Shop talk at Xerox: how the repairman acted. Visualizing "how I got here": simulating problems to solve them. Use stories as flight simulators. Clinic: Dealing with problem students.

    STORIES AS INSPIRATION (GIVE PEOPLE ENERGY TO ACT)

    Jared, the 425-pound fast-food dieter. How to spot inspiring stories. Look for three key plots: Challenge (to overcome obstacles), Connection (to get along or reconnect), Creativity (to inspire a new way of thinking). Tell a springboard story: a story that helps people see how an existing problem might change. Stephen Denning at the World Bank: a health worker in Zambia. You can extract a moral from a story, but you can't extract a story from a moral. Why speakers got mad when people boiled down their presentations to stories.

USE WHAT STICKS

Nice guys finish last. Elementary, my dear Watson. it's the economy, stupid. The power of spotting. Why good speaking skills aren't necessarily good sticking skills. Stanford students and the speech exercise.

Remember how SUCCESs helps people to pay attention (unexpected), understand and remember (concrete), believe and agree (credible), care (emotional), and act (stories). Simple helps at many stages; most important, it tells you what to say.

The above material is all copyrighted material extracted from the book itself, and is offered to help educate readers & reinforce the essential principles behind the book itself. Much of the material will only be meaningful if you've read the book, so don't stop here! The book itself is accessible, entertaining, and so relevant to my team that I bought several copies for team members for Christmas (and they all read them and felt that they got a lot out of that investment) - a gift that keeps on giving!

Rating: 

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Amazon information: 

Image of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Manufacturer: Random House
Part Number: 9781400064281
Price: $27.00