What do the urban legend about kidney thieves, Jared the Subway spokesman, The Truth ad campaign, “It’s The Economy, Stupid” and Aesop’s “Sour Grapes” fable all have in common?
They all represent stories or ideas that have stuck in the collective mindshare, and are among the lively examples that help make Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die such an informative and interesting read. The Brothers Heath study concepts that connect and find that successful folk tales, Internet hoaxes and advertising campaigns alike touch on more than one of six threads, for which they use the anagram SUCCESs:
* Simplicity: You should be able to strip an idea down to its core essence.
* Unexpectedness: The twist we don’t expect cuts through the clutter and sticks in our mind.
* Concreteness: Make your point visual or experiential so that people can remember its meaning.
* Credibility: Who can make the world understand and believe your idea?
* Emotional: Audiences remember feelings more than facts.
* Stories: People understand, relate to and recall resonant tales.
Some ideas capture all of these points. Consider Jared Fogle, who lost 245 pounds from eating at Subway and physical activity. He became an unlikely success — even the company and national ad agency first scoffed at the concept — and touches on all the SUCCESs points. Simplicity (Subway = healthy), Unexpected (a fast-food diet?), Concreteness (look at his old 60-inch pants!), Credibility (Jared is a likable everyman), Emotion (who doesn’t want to improve themselves?) and Stories (what a story!).
Made to Stick doesn’t just benefit professional communicators. Anyone who needs to put their ideas across — managers, teachers, parents — would benefit from the enjoyable, engaging and engrossing read. Don’t believe me? The next time you have an idea you want to stick in the minds of others, think of it under the lens of SUCCESs … and you just may have a better chance of actual success.