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Lessons from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath is a book that I had been meaning to read for a while, as it is promoted as a great supplement to one of my favourite books of all time: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

The book revolves around six key qualities of an idea that is made to stick, conveniently creating the acronym SUCCESs. The principles are:
– Simplicity
– Unexpectedness
– Concreteness
– Credibility
– Emotional
– Stories

For students of marketing and advertising, there is nothing new in these principles. But the book is definitely worth a read simply for the engrossing case studies used, including an analysis of the infamous “kidney-theft ring” urban legend.

In this respect the Heath’s writing style borrows heavily from Gladwell, and that is not a bad thing! It is clear that Chip and Dan Heath are following their own advice in the use of stories to increase the chances that their ideas stick.

Here is a great clip of Chip and Dan telling some stories from the book.

Buy, borrow, or steal this book. Or just read this executive summary.

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Categories: Advertising, Book Reviews, Communication, Marketing Strategy

Author:Chris Maloney

Chris is a multi-channel marketing strategist and one of Australia's most awarded young marketers.

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4 Comments on “Lessons from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”

  1. Raphael
    June 20, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    It seems to be a very interesting topic.

    I would dare to tell that there is actually one and almost only one fundamental point to get an idea “sticky” to an audience : STORY
    Telling a story is the most effective way to convince someone, big time!

    You’re point can show lack of credibility, if you tell the guy a sweet story, he is likely to go for it anyway. Think about the “man on the moon story”. Do you you think it appeared credibile when President first announce the program. I doubt it, but the story was beautiful

    You’re point can show lack of concretness. If you tell the guy a story he feels, I can bet whatever the means (=complexity), he will trust in the ends!

    I’am sure we can arguing on the others point as well.

    A good story can the job by itself… at first !
    You want to be more concrete afterwards if you don’t want to be seen as a smoothie 🙂

  2. June 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Great post, Chris. I agree wholeheartedly that the Heath brothers produced a great read here. I’ve been actively following the Heath principles in some consulting work, and I’d like to suggest that the final ‘s’ could be capitalized, too. The Heathian principles can be complemented effectively by adding the additional ‘S’ for Style. The idea here is that you want the style (of your communication) to be appropriate for your audience while adding to the stickiness factor. I was working on some consulting projects with large i’ment banks and insurance companies and realized that the style of communication was one of their key concerns. There are a number of ways, however, that the style can be tweaked to make your idea stick, particularly if your audience is more welcoming of the Unexpected: puns and rhymes; accronym lists (as with the SUCCESs model) although this could easily fall under the Simplicity part, etc.; even intonation (think Darth Vader).
    What do you think, Chris?

  3. June 26, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    I agree with Raphael that Story stands out as probably the most important part of the Heath’s model. When I am doing speaking gigs I always focus on telling stories rather than using powerpoint slides. And you are right Stephen, style could also be included…especially breaking style rules in the category. Think Virgin in airline travel. Maybe you should contact the Heath’s with your idea!

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  1. Lessons from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (via Maloney on Marketing) « People-triggers - June 26, 2010

    […] Two such similar authors are Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick. The book is profiled in this Maloney on Marketing entry: Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath is a book that I had been meaning to read for a while, as it is promoted as a great supplement to one of my favourite books of all time: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The book revolves around six key qualities of an idea that is … Read More […]

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