14 October 2012

Make Your Content Stick

I got a great reaction to my post "Content Creation"  so I was wondering how I could expand the subject matter.  I recently read the book "Made To Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath.  The book explores how to make ideas memorable or "sticky", a vital requirement in the blogoshere. Likewise any new software or eBook needs to be sticky to gain traction in the marketplace.

What Sticks?  Any idea that is understandable, memorable and effective in changing an audience's thoughts or behaviour.  Use the following checklist to ensure that your message sticks.

How To Get Sticky?  Chip and Stan came up with the anagram SUCCESs which consists of:
  • Simple. Focus on your core message and then share it using a concept that the audience already understands.  Don't argue ten points, concentrate on that one game changing point.  Prioritise your message.
  • Unexpected.  Use an unexpected perspective to get attention and hold the interest. Be counterintuitive to increase alertness and grab interest.  Aim for a "huh!" reaction.  Highlight the gap in your audiences knowledge and then fill it.  Offering to solve a major problem so big that people think unsolvable fits into this category.  Consider how you can break the routine or the pattern that your audience is used to.  This is where the idea of a purple cow comes to play.  A purple cow creates surprise and interest all in one.  Avoid common sense as this leads your audience back to their old thought pattern and your message is lost forever.
  • Concrete.  Help people understand and remember your message.  Technical jargon wont help here, but the use of familiar metaphors will.  Metaphors can explain a concept in terms of what we already know by giving a comparison.  Concreteness also ensures that your message means the same thing to everyone.  "World class customer service" only means one thing.  Your message becomes focused.
  • Credible.  Make it believable.  Don't quote statistics that cant be remembered.  Let your audience compare what you are saying against what they already know.  This gives massive weight to your message.  You sweep aside the non-believers and create evangelists who further spread your message. 
  • Emotional.  Make people care by allowing them to connect with their emotions.  Make them care by feeling something.  Again statistics will not cause an emotional response.  Its easier to get an emotional response when your message is targeted at one individual or a very particular group of individuals rather than the masses.  You can think of the critical emotional and work backwards looking at what you need to illustrate in order to invoke that emotion.
  • Stories.  Use stories to illustrate a path of action.  Stories create images in our minds which we can replicate.  People learn from stories and find them easy to remember and pass on, spreading your message.

I hope the above checklist will help you check your message for "stickiness".
If you have any questions or would like to know more please leave a comment below.


  1. Hey Chris

    Thanks for sharing the Sticky checklist.

    I've been trying to do many of the things on the checklist in my recent blog posts.

    It's always good to have a checklist to work from though.

  2. Hi Tim, thanks for sharing. What's your blog called and we'll all have a look?