Just do it. Where’s the beef? Jared and the Subway diet. Apple’s iPod. All of these ideas or marketing phrases have stuck around and made the respective companies millions of dollars. What makes an idea or promotion stick in the minds of consumers?

The book Made to Stick (Random House, New York) offers six principles that may help develop sticky ideas for marketing.

Make it Stick

Co-authors and brothers,Chip Heath and Dan Heath provide six easy to understand sticky tips to develop ideas that are understood, unforgettable, make an impact, and change opinions and behaviors – in other words – tips to make ideas stick.

The six principles are:

  1. Simplicity: Finding the essential core of an idea.
  2. Unexpectedness: Getting the attention of the consumer.
  3. Concrete: Make ideas clear.
  4. Credibility: Make people believe.
  5. Emotions: Get people to care.
  6. Stories: Get people to react.

The authors explain each principle in great detail with solid examples. They also provide applicable clinics throughout that the reader can complete to reinforce the principles.

A Concrete Sticky Example

Take the next 15 seconds and write down on a blank piece of paper all of the things you can think of that are white in color.

Now take another sheet of blank paper and walk to the refrigerator and open it. Take 15 seconds and write down all of the things you see that are white in color.

Which list is longer? More than likely the list from the refrigerator is longer. Why? According to the rule of Concrete, it is because you had a more clear task when writing down the refrigerator items than what you could abstractly think of in that short amount of time. This is just one make it stick exercise that the authors provide in the book.

Finding Ways to Make Ideas Stick

The Heath brothers both work in education – Chip is a professor of organizational behavior in the School of Business at Stanford University and Dan is the co-founder of Thinkwell, a new media textbook publishing company.

They both independently studied why some ideas stick in consumers’ minds and others do not last. The book is the result of over 10 years of combined research. The authors believe there are two basic steps to creating sticky ideas:

  1. Find the core of the idea.
  2. Translate the core using the six principles of stickiness.

Finding the core involves stripping the idea or the message down to the one critical element or meaning. The authors wrote, “If you say three things, you don’t say anything” indicating that any messages have the lead buried.

The lead is usually the first sentence or paragraph in an article or feature story. Journalists are familiar with the agony of trying to get the lead right so that a reader will stop and read the rest of the story.

To get to the core of a message or idea, the lead has to be found and used at the top of the story. After finding the core or the lead the remaining six principles help make that core stick.

Get Sticky with Promotion

The book makes perfect sense. And after reading through all of the principles, examples and completing the sticky clinics, the core message of the book (make it stick) will help develop promotional ideas and messages that stick in the most discretionary of consumers’ minds.