MADE TO STICK - The Vibons Blog


By Chip Heath, Dan Heath   |    3 min read


By Chip Heath, Dan Heath
 3 min read

You met a man at the bar. You struck up a conversation. He bought you a drink. Ten minutes later, you began to feel drowsy. That is the last thing you remember... up until the time you woke up without a kidney in a bathtub filled with ice. This is an urban legend. Still, millions of people in four continents are aware of the story. How is that we remember something like this, but many ideas that are much more important just fall into oblivion? Dan and Chip Heath seek the answer to the question, "why some ideas survive, while others die, in the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die?”

“What ways are there to create lasting ideas?” The two authors studied urban legends, advertisements, proverbs, jokes, and gossip for a decade. In their research, they determined six factors. In order to be lasting, an idea has to “be simple,” “contain something unexpected,” “be tangible,” “be credible,” “stir up emotions”, and “have a story.” Let's analyze the cases that support these factors.

A health committee in the U.S realized that the coconut oil used in popcorn dramatically increases cholesterol. Does "37 grams of saturated fat" mean anything to you? If they released the campaign this way, it probably would not have much effect. Instead, this is what the press released said: "One portion of popcorn you buy at a movie theater contains more cholesterol than bacon and eggs at breakfast, Big Mac and fries at lunch, and steak and a side dish at dinner!" It was the talk of the week in the U.S. Before long, movie theaters stopped using coconut oil. The concept was a hit because it had a much more "tangible" effect than "37 grams of saturated fat."

Nordstrom stores initiated a project to achieve perfection in customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction? How were they to go beyond the usual "Try to smile, be polite, and quick"? The training department put together an education program filled with "unexpected stories." “Nordie irons the shirt the customer will wear at the meeting in the afternoon. Nordie scrapes the snow off the car while the customer is shopping. Nordie gladly wraps up a product purchased at Macy's.” Have you noticed the unexpected element” in the message? “Wrapping up a competitor's product?” It is a much catchier message than saying “We strive for excellent customer satisfaction.”

We all know that nuclear armament went out of control in the post-world wars. Nevertheless, no one gets the whole picture completely. There are 4,137 missiles with a nuclear warhead in the world... Does this tell you the size of the problem? Give it a try this way..... This presentation made a tremendous effect against nuclear armament. Very little statistical information leaves a mark in people's minds. So, when you are providing the information, have the listener associate with the information.

A consultancy company was trying to cut down on excessively intense email traffic. However, it was having a hard time convincing the senior management of large companies with regard to taking preventive measures. In the end, they took a different approach. This email was sent to "4,057" people in your company. Eight employees did a reply-all for this email, creating 32,456 emails in total. These confusing numbers do not mean much, do they? How about this approach? “If one trivial email is sent to countless numbers of people in the company and each employee spent 15 seconds to read-delete it, then 1 email = 1 employee's one-month salary.” A simple and clear image is more effective than slides filled with statistics.

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