Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Made to Stick!

If you are looking for a great book on communication, pick up a copy of "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. The book has been around for a year or so and has been discussed in many business forums, but if you haven't seen it, your time will be well spent to read it.

In their book, which you can't miss in the bookstore because of its bright orange cover, the Heath brothers discuss urban myths to see what makes them last, what makes them so sticky. For example, they discuss the myth we have all heard of the businessman who goes to Las Vegas, meets a woman whom he takes to his room, and wakes in a tub of ice water to find that his kidney has been removed.

The Heath brothers wanted to know what made that myth and others like it so sticky. In the process the authors devised a formula for "stickiness" of communication.

According to Chip and Dan, sticky communications have these qualities in common:

Story Appeal

If you want your communication to stick in the mind of the audience, tell a sticky story. Tell about the homeless woman who went to the designer dress department of Nordstrom's in Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, and was allowed by the clerk to try on designer dresses for over an hour only to walk out, of course, without having bought anything. When asked why she treated the homeless woman so graciously, the Nordstrom's clerk said, "That's the way we should treat everyone."

Did that actually happen? Yes. It was reported by the NY Times. Will the story last? It will stick because it has emotional appeal, is unexpected, has concrete detail and possesses credibility. Will it help the Nordstrom reputation for the best customer service in America? You bet! It's sticky!

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