What makes some messages more memorable than others? Is there a model you could apply to crafting your business messages to make them more ‘sticky’? In the best traditions of the Summer Holiday booklist, I’m going to recommend a book that I think you should take along on your holidays. The book is called Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath.
Good ideas often fail because of bad communication.
It’s a frustrating experience that everyone has experienced. You develop an important strategy in your company or a new business idea. You communicate it to your customers or staff and it promptly fails to get their attention. There’s no change in behaviour and the business suffers. All your hard work is for nothing – all because you didn’t craft a memorable message.
So, is there a model you could follow to help you to make your ideas stick? Or is the business of creating memorable communications best left to the experts in expensive Advertising and PR agencies? The authors advance a compelling argument to show that anyone can develop memorable messages. They show you how to engineer stickiness into your communication by following 6 principles.
What is the core of your idea? Can you pare back the idea to the simple and central truth? Simple doesn’t mean easy! The process of distilling an idea down to a central core truth is hard work.
Violate people’s expectations. Surprise them. Most of us have mental models that help us to quickly navigate the myriad of situations and information we encounter everyday. If you can break through that with a surprise, then you can build in some extra memorability.
Concrete language makes the idea easier to remember because our brains are hardwired around concreteness. Proverbs use concrete language “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Using this type of language allows us to quickly communicate a complex idea in a memorable manner.
How do we make people believe our ideas? Often we don’t have personal or commercial credibility that we can leverage. Can you get access to third party sources of credibility? Have you data to support your message? There is great power in detail.
In the previous section I focussed on getting people to believe that your message is credible. This principle is about getting people to care. Not every message will lend itself to an emotional appeal. But there are a surprising amount of business situations where a light touch appeal to the emotions can be very powerful. It’s not about trying to create ‘tearjerker’ moments; rather it’s about getting people to care. When people care, they act.
Right now using stories in marketing is a very fashionable thing to do. Why is that? Well a story is a useful construct for communicating ideas. Over thousands of years, humans passed on complex information and lots of details in an oral tradition and that hardwiring is still there today. In other words, stories help us to remember stuff better. The authors show how stories can provide information about how to act in a given situation along with the inspiration to act. That makes stories a very powerful tool for building stickiness into your messages.
Creating memorable communications is not easy or quick. It takes time and effort. But there is a checklist and you can use it to stress test your ideas. To see a room full of people who are engaged with your ideas or to see market traction in the form of increased sales based on a powerful new marketing message is deeply satisfying. Building a memorable message is a hugely powerful agent of change in every aspect of your business. Is there a more important challenge than building a memorable message?
Made to Stick is filled with a wealth of ideas and stories to help you to get started on building more memorable messages. Enjoy your holiday reading!
About David O’Leary
David O’Leary, Partner, BMI Lab, has been helping businesses develop unique value propositions to grow revenue for over 20 years. BMI Lab is a consultancy that helps businesses unlock powerful new growth through innovation and digital strategy. We use leading edge tools such as Design Thinking, Business Model Innovation and Hidden Needs Analysis, to cost-effectively create and deliver new value for your customers while establishing innovative business models that capture sustainable value for your company.
David has worked with many successful brands & companies over the years including; EY, Bank of Ireland, Aon, United Nations, RTÉ, Bulmers & Jameson.
David’s focus has always been to deliver sustainable growth grounded in innovative thinking. He believes that he understands the ups and downs of both large organisations and start-ups based on his own experiences as Founder & CEO with companies such as Ripple Platform – an EI HPSU Technology Start-up – and 8020 – a leading digital marketing agency.