Friday, August 17, 2012

Are Your Messages "Sticky"?

The term "stickiness", with regards to messaging, was first coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his brilliant book titled The Tipping Point.  In fact, Mr. Gladwell devotes an entire section to this very topic.  The concept of "stickiness" stuck so well, pun intended, that Chip and Dan Heath wrote an entire book on the topic titled Made to Stick.

So what's all the hoopla about?  Both books seek to explain why certain stories, urban legends, catch phrases, marketing campaigns, and other messaging are more memorable than others.  Gladwell and the brother's Heath take it one step further and explain the architecture of a viral marketing campaign and provide input on how to produce sticky ideas.

According to Mr. Heath(s), there are six key qualities that make an idea (campaign) sticky:
  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories
Nike's "Just Do It" campaign continues to be a HUGE success.  Many articles and books have been written about "Just Do It" and how it has morphed beyond a marketing slogan to become a way of life for members of the Nike community.  Let's take a moment to see how "Just Do It" fits the six qualities of stickiness:
  1. Simplicity - An idea can't get more simple than three words composed of eight letters and two spaces!
  2. Unexpectedness - Those three words are loaded with meaning....from doing the most mundane activity to 'get it over with' to aggressively going after your dreams, the whole spectrum of activity is surprisingly covered in three simple words.
  3. Concreteness - It's real easy to wrap your head around the concept of getting up and doing 'something.'
  4. Credibility - Nike as a company takes athleticism to a whole new level.  Who else would be more credible, when it comes to encouraging a more active lifestyle?
  5. Emotional - Each of us can personally relate to getting off the couch and hitting the gym, court, course, track, etc.
  6. Stories - Over the years, Nike has used a whole cadre of professional and non-professional athletes in their ads and marketing collateral to write stories that illustrate how each of these folks did, indeed, "Just Do It."
Morgan here:  Below are a few slogans used by some of my author friends that have stuck with me over the years:
Notice that I not only remember the slogan, I remember the author, too.  Part of the reason they still cling to me today is because they each fit the six criteria listed above.  In addition, I have an 'emotional' connection to each author - I interact with all of them via Twitter.  Starting to see how these concepts can apply to your writing career?

How can you make your messaging more sticky?

Next Friday: Is Your PERSONA "Sticky"?

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.


  1. Ooh, great post. This one goes into my files for later reference. Now if I could only think of something sticky to brand my books.

  2. Thanks Lisa! Therese and I are happy to help you think of something sticky for your books. Send a link to your website and we'll take a look see! :D