Made To Stick: Book Review 1 (Mercury Return 2009)
The authors of Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath, highlight the current obsession with information distribution and control by identifying six properties of successful communication: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. The opening chapter is titled, What Sticks?, and opens with a story–not just any story–one that has been told many times and is notorious as an urban legend. I had even heard the story years ago and remember how I felt when I first heard it from a friend. After the opening story, a short passage from a nonprofit is introduced to show a disproportionate comparison of why the nonprofit’s message is not as effective as the preceding story. The chapters that follow are named after each of the six identified elements of stickiness, and finally ends full circle with, What Sticks. The use of the six “sticky” tactics woven throughout the storyline allow the book to sell its own message in the most effective way by engaging the reader in popular culture and participatory learning exercises.
In these fast times of information overload, it is easy to get lost in the internet bustle. Blogs have spawned microblogs, newspapers and magazines are losing relevance to online alternatives, social networking sites hold students’ and workers’ attention during school and business hours, and email has demolished the use of the postage stamp. It is during this innovative stage of mass communication and chaos that many traditional institutions are being forced to reevaluate their communication strategies. Businesses, universities, hospitals, and nonprofits, among others, have built websites, started blogs, opened twitter accounts, and developed facebook pages in order to keep their clients and customers engaged. But client and customer engagement also demands a “sticky” message to keep them coming back. Made to Stick provides case examples of how the military has used simplicity for missions; how Nordstrom used unexpectedness to improve customer service; why Aesop’s fables endured because of their concreteness; why credibility can be assessed by the “Sinatra Test” of making it anywhere; what emotional messages emanated from the Truth anti-tobacco campaign; and why stories are passed on across cultures and generations.
Television still remains to serve as the most powerful marketing tool for corporate and government entities. Aggressive ads are constantly thrust upon passive audiences in order to stimulate consumer behaviors and voter activity. Although this strategy has been proven in its continued success, the Heath brothers’ SUCCES model encourages participation from an active audience. Instead of selling by telling, they provide practical guidance on how to identify stickiness and how to create it from everyday scenarios. In the opening chapter of the book, they propose the process of nurturing creativity and invoking message memorability as opposed to bowing to a perceived innovative nature. There are “Idea Clinics” for each chapter, allowing the reader to observe and also create a checklist of each component of stickiness. A motivated individual with an idea can use the examples and exercises in this book to build his or her own strategy in the hopes of making their own message or story stick. Even though the SUCCES of that endeavor is not certain, it’s components can be reevaluated, redesigned, and redeployed using the tools in this book.