Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book Review: Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath explores why some ideas "stick" in our consciousness while others are never understood in the first place and are quickly forgotten. The authors cite two examples early in the book, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, to illustrate stickiness: Ronald Reagan's "It's morning again in America" and James Carville's "It's the economy, stupid" (proving that sometimes stickiness is more a matter of luck than brains).

Still, the authors attempt to both define the common characteristics of sticky ideas, and prescribe methods to make ideas sticky. The result is not only philosophically interesting, but a practical guide for marketers in trying to make their messages stick in an increasingly over-promoted marketplace.

As the Blogcritics review of the book points out, however, the book is not solely aimed at marketers, but also at teachers, politicians, parents, and anyone else who wants their ideas to make a lasting impact: "The Heaths have put together six principles on what makes a concept 'sticky,' i.e. memorable. They are: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. That's right, SUCCESs." The review from the Practice of Leadership blog explains these six principles of stickiness in greater detail.

Ted Boardman's brief review helpfully points out the "Curse of Knowledge" described in the book: the natural human tendency for people with deep expertise in a particular subject to forget that often their audience doesn't share that level of knowledge, which leads to the creation of overly complicated and detailed messages that don't resonate or stick.

Finally, as Gail Whitcomb notes in her review on Amazon: "The principles of stickiness are examined--an unexpected outcome, lots of concrete details that we remember, emotion, simplicity, and credibility--all packaged in an easily told story format...Exercises, checklists, and other tools are sprinkled throughout the book to help the reader understand and test how stickiness can be applied to their ideas."


Terms: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die, Chip Heath, Dan Heath, book review, Blogcritics, The Practice of Leadership, Ted Boardman, Gail Whitcomb

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