Earlier this year, Tech Image leadership gifted each member of the team the gift that keeps on giving: A book! And not just any book – the New York Times Best Seller, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”
In “Made to Stick,” brothers Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier. The book centers on the six key principles that contribute to the stickiness of an idea or concept: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Story (SUCCES).
As public relations professionals, the core of our craft is storytelling. We learn our client’s business, create key messages and share their story to a targeted audience using sticky techniques, so these principles should serve as our guiding light for many of our strategies.
Here is a breakdown of SUCCES:
Simple = Core + Compact
Finding the core means stripping an idea down to its most critical essence by weeding our unnecessary and tangential elements to let the most important insight shine. This not only comes into play in our client’s high-level messages, but is also helpful in product launches, press release writing and crafting social media messages.
Unexpected: Surprising people to grab their attention
“Surprise gets our attention, while interest keeps our attention.” You need your message to be interesting enough to pique your audience’s curiosity, but not so outrageous or unrelated that it doesn’t connect. Which leads me to the next important point under this principle: Avoid gimmickry. If the surprise is non-germane to the message that needs to be communicated, it’s worthless – OUCH.
Concrete: Ensure ideas can be understood and remembered
A quick rule of thumb: If you can examine it with your senses, it’s concrete. It may be stating the obvious, but it’s easier to understand tangible actions than it is to understand abstract concepts. Concreteness allows us to avoid that confusion.
Many powerful forces influence people’s beliefs, including family, friends, personal experiences and faith. As you can imagine, persuading a skeptical audience to believe a new message is an uphill battle. However, there are naturally sticky ways to persuade us to believe some pretty incredible things. One such tactic is aligning your message with a credible person – renowned experts, celebrities and anti-authorities. When we don’t have external sources to turn to, we must rely on the internal credibility of our message, which includes use of vivid details and statistics.
Emotional: How to get people to care about our messages
One example of a sticky emotional message is the ASPCA commercial featuring rescued animals in cages with the somber Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background. However, emotion isn’t just about making people feel something; it’s also about making people care enough to take action. Power of association, self-interest and appealing to identity are a few ways to evoke emotion and action in messages.
Story: Empower people to use an idea through narrative
One of the most important things to remember about stories is that they are not created; they are discovered, by consciously looking for the right ones. This is what the authors refer to as “the art of spotting.” Stories generally follow three basic plots: the Challenge plot, in which a protagonist must overcome some obstacle(s); the Connection plot, in which people develop a relationship that bridges some kind of gap; and the Creativity plot, which makes us want to do something different, be creative, and experiment with new approaches.
Regardless of your industry, “Made to Stick” provides a number of thoughtful principles that practitioners can utilize every day.
Get to stickin’!