Consider the Famous urban legend spread by email about the kidney Heist According to the email a person in a Hotel bar accepts a drink from a stranger only to wake up in a tub full of ice with a missing kidney. This story has circulated the Internet for almost fifteen year. It is a story that keeps getting passed on and talked about –in shot it STICKS. Simply because certain ideas are much more inherently interesting.
This is exactly what most companies’ need, that their company, their product or their service is remembered with the same passion, is talked about and passed on the right circles. So the question is how can you make this happen? Are ideas born interesting or can they be followed to achieve this ‘stickiness’?
Why do good ideas often have a difficult time gaining traction, while something as ridiculous as the kidney Heist tale never stops making the rounds-even without any resources to support it?
In the book ‘Made to stick’ by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, the basic premise is that by following a few guidelines your idea can be made interesting and STICKY.
Six Principles of sticky Ideas
Given how important it make ideas stick, it’s strange how little attention the subject is given. What Dan and Chip have found after extensive research is that sticky ideas and stories tend to have similar themes and attributes. While there is not a set “formula “for a sticky idea, being sticky tends to have to do with a common set of traits, which increases the chances of success.
According to them the six principles that tend to work are: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. The acronym spells SUCCESs. No specific expertise is required to utilize these ideas. And it can be used in any situation for any purpose. Each attribute is explained with lots of examples which are interesting and engaging.
Lets take one example from their book The Subway campaign, which also became a phenomenon popularly referred to as the The subway Jared Story.
In the late 1990s, the fast food giant subway launched a campaign to tout the healthiness of a new line of sandwiches. The campaign was based on the statistic ‘Seven subs under six grams of fat’ As far as statistics go, that’s very good. But the ‘7 under 6’ didn’t stick like subways’ next campaign which focused on the remarkable story of a college student named Jared Fogle.
Jared had a serious weight problem. By his junior year Forgle’s weight was at 425 pounds, and he said he wore size 6XL shirts.
Several years later, after his roommate, a pre-med student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., correctly diagnosed Jared with sleep apnea and edema, he was sent to the hospital. Fogle’s father, who is a physician, told him he might not live past 35’ and Jared began to turn his life around. At the age of 20, Fogle estimated he consumed a diet of around 10,000 calories a day.
After three months on the diet, he had lost nearly 100 pounds and weighed in at 330 pounds (150 kg). He stuck with the diet and soon began to walk as much as he could, rather than using transport and would walk up the stairs rather than take an elevator. By the of the diet, Jared had lost over 240 pound (109 kg).
Beginning of the subway campaign
The first spot aired on January 1, 2000, introducing Jared and his story, complete with a disclaimr: “The s Subway diet, combined with a lot of walking, worked for Jared. We’ re not saying this is for everyone. You should check with your doctor before starting any diet program. But it worked for Jared”.
The commercial was a stunning success and Subway’s 2000 sales exceeded those of the previous year by 18 percent. In 2001, they rose another 16% Jared became a well-recognized phenomenon.
Subway has used Fogle in a number of television commercial and sponsored in-store appearancs throughout the United States. Since Fogle’s advertising campaign began, Subwaysales have more than doubled to $8.2 billion, though the portion of the gain attributable to Fogle and his more than 50 Subway commercials cannot be determined.
So what is behind the success of this campaign?
SIMPLICITY: “Simple” means core and comact. Compactness is worth striving for. It’s not always easy to make ideas stick in a noisy, chaotic environment In order to succeed, the first step is to be simple. That doesn’t mean “dumbed “ Simple means identifying the core of the idea and stripping it down to the most critical essence of it.You have to weed out superfluous and distracting elements. The trick is to know how much can be cut out of an idea before it begins to lose its essence. The Subway – Jared compaign is something that people could immediately relate to and understand. Eat subs and lose weight. (It maybe over simplified, frankly, since the meatball sub with extra mayo wont help you lose weight.)
UNEXPECTEDNESS: The first challenge in communication is getting the other,s attention Humans adapt quickly to consistent patterns, therefore consistent sensory stimulation makes us tune out. We often only become consciously aware of these things when they change. Most of the time we can’t demand attention; the best way is to attract it breaking a pattern.
Jared said after his transformation “Subway helped save my life and start over.” This may have been the first time that a fast food chain was credited with transforming someone’s life in a profoundly positive way. A guy lost a ton of weight by eating fast food ! This story violates our schema of fast food, a schema that’s more consistant with the picture of a fat Jared than a skinny Jared.
Two essential questions are: How do I get people’s attention? How do I keep it? Messages have to break through the clutter to get and keep people’s attention.
Two essential emotions surprise and interest –are commonly utilized by naturally sticky ideas. Surprise begets attention. Interest keeps our attention and is what maintains our interest over time.
CONCRETENESS: Language is often abstract, but life is not abstract.Too much abstraction makes it difficult to understand an idea and to remember it. Something “concrete” is anything you can examine with your physical senses. Most of the time, concreteness boils down to specific people doing specific things.
Concrete language helps us understand new concept.
Think of the oversized pants, the massive loss of girth, the diet composed of a particular sandwich. Its much more like an Aesop fable than an abstraction.
CREDIBILTY: To get people to believe your ideas you’ve got to identify the right source(s) of credibility to draw on. It’s not always obvious which one we should draw from. The most obvious sources-external validation and statistics-aren’t always the best. A few vivid details might be more enticing than a barrage of statistics.
It has the same kind of antiauthority truthfulness. The guy who wore 60-inch pants is giving us diet advice!!
EMOTINAL: Mother Teresa said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”In 2004, some researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to see whether Mother Teresa was right.
The researchers found that Save the Children, a charity that focuses on the well-being of children worldwide got bigger donations when their literature outlined the plight of a single child, Rokia, than when they described the dire circumstances for African children with statistical evidence. When it comes to our emotions, one individual trumps the masses.
We care more about an individual, Jared, than about a mass. And it’s about a guy who reached his potential with the help of a sub shop. That is why the ‘7 under 6’ campaign was not as successful. It was not as specific as the individual Jared.
The researchers theorized that thinkiinng about statistics shifts people into a more analytics shifts people in to a more analytical frame of mindset where they’re less likely to think emotionally. The mere act of calculation reduced people’s charity.
For people to take action, they have to care. But “making people care “isn’t something that only charities need to do. Mangers have to make people care enough to complete complex tasks in a timely manner. Teachers have to make student care about assignments. Activists have to make people care about public initiatives.
STORIES: Stories are strongly associated with entertainment. When children say, “Tell me a story,”they want entertainment, not instruction. Being the “audience”for a story may seem like a passive role, but there is no such thing as a passive audience. When we hear a story we become drawn into a mental simulation of it. The right kind of story is an effective simulation. A powerful story gets people ready to act.
Our protagonist overcomes big odds to triumph It inspires he rest of us to do the same.
You can have brilliant ideas but if you can’t get then across your ideas will not get you any where – lee lacocca. “A little focused effort can make almost any idea sticker, and a sticky idea that is more likely to make a difference. All you need to do is understand the six principles of powerful ideas…..Any of us with the right insight and the right message, can make an ideas stick.
This is where the book helps you… The authors promise.