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Made to Stick Book Summary: 6 principles behind why some ideas stick

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

The book Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath has instilled my belief, that the Advertisement bombardment is real.

And precisely why, in this competitive scenario, your communication needs to have a purpose for survival.

Made to Stick, gives us a deeper understanding of what is needed to stand out.


Let’s take the example of Soap.

We all use it, however, what makes us choose one soap over the other?

What kind of communication from various brands makes us consider, brand A over B?

The answer to these questions and many other elements are analyzed in this book, whereby giving us ideas on what content ‘sticks’ with your consumers.

Also Read: 80 minute MBA book summary

It stems from the base that consumers can have multiple parameters, to decide a brand.

And, as a matter of fact of these can be controlled by the marketer, how you ask?

Through Advertising!

It’s not something new, all brands, no matter how well established they are, still use advertising to a great extent.

They invest a huge amount of money, only because they estimate an even bigger and better return.

And hence, if everyone thinks on similar lines, our advertising efforts need to be different, to stand out.


The book Made to Stick highlights 6 principles that go behind creating advertising, that lasts long and eventually delivers results.

Let’s look at each of these 6 principles in detail.

1

Well, this is something I believe in, even generally throughout my life.

What’s the crux that you wish to highlight?

Of course, at any given time, there would be multiple things that you want to talk about when it comes to your brand.

But it's always the simplicity that makes your communication stand out.

You need to ‘find the core’ of your idea- that is, the single most important thing that you wish to highlight in your communication.

And then you need to ‘share the core’ with your audience.


Let’s take an example:

The airline industry is the most competitive one out there, and hence it becomes all the more difficult for a brand idea to stand out.

But Indigo does this beautifully.

Their core revolves around ‘low cost’ and that is what has made them stand out from the crowd.

2

What do you have to say that will grab attention?

Consumers are bound to come across multiple communication ideas, but do you have something unique/different to grab his/her attention?

Humans tend to think in patterns, and it’s our job as marketers to break these patterns.

However, the task here is to not make it gimmicky.

Consumers today are very much evolved, and it's not possible to fool them that easily.

One of the ways in which you can get the desired attention is by using ‘Curiosity’ and this is even proven in Science, consumers are glued to something that generates curiosity.

Also Read: Ogilvy on Advertising book summary

Let’s take an example-

If you are a Gaana app user- using a free version, you might have come across these ads which start as though a normal conversation, but end with the line that says something like- "No one likes interruption, switch to Gaana premium to listen to ad-free music."

Now that’s unexpected, it's ensuring that you pause and hear what they have to say.

It's unlike any other commercial that you come across.

3

This is one of the easiest to implement when it comes to these 6 principles, the toughest one perhaps is finding the core.

With concreteness, the author talks about using something that can be described or detected by human senses.

When it comes to shampoos ‘Keratin treatment’ is concrete, but using ‘advanced technology’- now that’s abstract.

It’s believed that the more concrete the content the higher chances of it retaining in your consumer’s mind.

However, do not use concreteness to the extent that consumers are confused- add details about what you have to offer.

This will provide additional weight to your concrete idea and make the idea last.

4

What makes people believe ideas?

The problem of establishing credibility is not new, brands have, for a very long time relied on authorities like parents, society, experts, etc. to establish this credibility.

But the book mentions certain specific ways of providing this credibility-


a) Anti-authority

We all remember Mukesh who was diagnosed with Cancer for smoking excessively.

As a matter of fact, consumers are more likely to believe a dying smoker, asking them to stop smoking as against a doctor telling them to do so.

b) Details

Provide extensive details, so even in your consumer’s mind, you have a set a notion that since there are so many details provided, this is bound to be true.

We often come across brands talking about formulations, ‘My brand contains these many things and they are responsible for another set of things’ hence choose me!

c) Statistics

The best example of this has to be ‘Colgate- Dentist ka sujhaya No.1 brand’

Now a brand as strong as Colgate cannot come up with a bogus statistic or claim like that.

It definitely has to be researched on some parameters for it to be true.

But just think about the credibility it provides concerning the brand.

d) Testable Credibility

For the longest time, we have seen brands make the claim ‘Pasand nahi aaya toh aapke paise wapas’

What are these brands trying to communicate?

That they are so sure about the quality of their product that they can guarantee it will not disappoint.

This also lets the consumers try the product themselves, to be able to testify.

5

Here ‘emotional’ is not used in a way that it makes the consumers teary-eyed.

Rather the emotional quotient is more so from the point of view of caring.

For this, we need to convince consumers to take off their analytical hats and look at things from an emotional perspective, through empathy.

Again, this principle can be utilized in either of the following ways-


a) Power of Association

We need to form an association in the minds of the consumers for things they care about and those that they don’t care about.

The important point to note here is that we are looking at evolving the consumers and forming new associations-replacing the old ones.

b) Self-Interest

The key point here is to understand the difference between features and benefits.

Yes, it's different.

Features are what your product provides and benefits are what consumers get at the end of it.

When we try to communicate benefits that appeal to the self-interest of the consumers, it's bound to stick!

6

Stories work really well- and that is because it creates an invisible hook in the minds of your consumer.

The book considers the following plots to look out for:


a) The Challenge Plot

This is the common rags to riches story, when brands try to create a story around the history and how the brand has grown.

Recently, we have seen this in the case of the Micromax Comeback campaign.

b) The Connection Plot

This revolves around creating a connection, more often, in societal ways.

When your brand connects to a greater cause, the story is sure to stick.

c) The Creativity Plot

This is about putting on your creativity hat and ensuring that you make a difference, or uniquely solve a common problem.

Conclusion:

Made to Stick is a great book for all those who are looking to start their career in content marketing.

It gives you some base ideas to focus on, to ensure success.

It’s also apt for all the Marketing and Brand managers out there who often wonder, what is that makes their competitors' communication stand out?

The answer lies in one of the parameters you just read in the blog post!

 

Also read: Epic Content Marketing: How to stand out by Marketing less

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