Sep 30

The book Made to Stick by the Heath brothers, Dan and Chip, is a safari tour of the elements of effective messaging. What is it that makes certain ideas resonate and survive while others immediately fade? Not surprisingly, the messages from the book themselves stick well and there were a ton of great stories with nuggets of insight in each.

Rather than try to hash through everything in a long post as I did with Buzzmarketing, I figured I’d try a different approach. I captured the notable stories on a single page via doodles that trigger a memory of each story and its meaning. I’ve scanned that page and created an image-mapped graphic with a text snippet summarizing each insight.

The most interesting takeaway for me in reading this book is a “meta” realization that came not from anything particular within the book but rather from thinking about this book in relationship to other marketing books I’ve read (Anatomy of Buzz, Buzzmarketing, Freakonomics and Tipping Point). A discussion of that relationship merits it’s own post but the critical insight here is that for a message to be re-transmitted it must first stick with the recipient. The achievement of the sticking factor is a prerequisite for buzz-worthiness to ever be possible (ie. a virus endowed with traits that make it highly contagious will have zero effectiveness if it can’t survive within the host long enough to be spread).

The takeaway is that we spend a great deal of energy trying to spread the word when we would be better served to improve the longevity of the word for the people that it reaches. It’s not what you come away with that ultimately matters- it’s what stays with you over time. Along the lines of a post I wrote awhile back called “If an elevator pitch falls in the woods…” – the weakest link of the re-transmissability of a message is its stickiness, not its buzz-worthiness. The notes I drew up from reading Made to Stick are mostly for my own edification of these concepts and to have a reference for the future, but hopefully you find them useful as well.

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