Made to Stick by Dan & Chip Heath

Made-to-StickMade to Stick is the type of book that everyone should read or listen to, no matter the profession. This book had been on my “to read” list for awhile before I finally picked it up on Audible and gave it a listen. Chip and Dan Heath are two brilliant brothers who just happened to have an interest in the same thing: how to make an idea “stick”.

The methods discussed in this book will give you a better understanding of how to get people to resonate with your ideas and remember your message. Teachers will find it helpful to connect with students, a CEO will learn how to communicate a corporate strategy in a better way, a budding entrepreneur will use the techniques in his quest to win that investor pitch and an advertisement professional can become a master of delivering the desired message for his clients.

They base the book around 6 principles that they call the S.U.C.C.E.S model (what a convenient acronym!).

  1. Simple — find the core of any idea
  2. Unexpected — grab people’s attention by surprising them
  3. Concrete — make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
  4. Credible — give an idea believability
  5. Emotional — help people see the importance of an idea
  6. Stories — empower people to use an idea through narrative

A few key points

Keep it simple stupid

Its-the-economy-stupid-pin-ClintonWhen delivering a message you have to keep it simple. It’s much easier to latch on to an idea that has a single message then three. It helps you to stay focused and makes it easier to remember. The book takes an example from Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign where the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” became the official slogan. Originally it was supposed to be one of three internal strategic themes. However, it quickly got out and people started flocking behind it. It was simple, direct, to the point and easy to get behind.

Marketers often complain that their products are complicated and therefore their advertisements become complicated. Well you know what’s complicated? The economy. So there!

Forget being analytical, keep it emotional

Have you ever read a textbook? I have to admit that I haven’t really either. Why? Because they’re boring. Textbooks are written by professors who for some reason believe that the students think like them. No matter how interesting the subject is, every textbook is completely without emotion and therefore very hard to resonate with.

One of the examples the authors use to support this claim are two different campaigns by Subway that aired around the millennium: 6 grams in 7 subs and the infamous Jared campaign. The first campaign appeals to the rational side of the brain, saying that Subway offers a variety of low-fat sandwiches. It even has statistics in it. The other one tells a story about a guy who lost half of his body weight by only eating Subway sandwiches. It’s a story about a guy who overcame the great challenge of losing weight – something so many other people have struggled with. Of course the Jared campaign was a huge success, spurring a 16% year-over-year growth in sales in the US. It was emotional, true and heartfelt.

Tell stories

Use stories when trying to get your message across. It’s a proven method of standing out and having your message remembered. It’s very difficult to get through a slideshow filled with statistics – no one remembers exactly how high the percentage of young males drive while drunk. However, a story about the young high school athlete who had his life in front of him and crashed his car with his best friends the first time he tried drinking is more likely to be remembered. Or on a lighter note, do you think people remembered the 6 grams in 7 subs or Jared, the guy who lost weight from only eating at Subway. One story is listing up facts, the other one is an actual story.

The verdict?

I loved Made to Stick. Like I said, this book had been on my list for a long time and finally when I decided to read it I was not disappointed. It’s brilliantly written, easy to read and filled with good ideas on how to communicate better.

I do have to say that I feel bad for Subway, since their old idol turned out to be…well a pedophile. Totally ruins the whole campaign, which was actually excellent.

I would recommend this book for anyone who want to become a better strategist, speaker, leader, marketer, teacher or just enjoys learning about communication

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