Great Lakes Geek Book Review

Made to Stick:
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick is a marketing book for the Internet age.

It starts with a rehashing of the old urban legend where a man supposedly picks up a woman in a bar and goes to a hotel room. He was up in a bathtub full of ice with a note telling him not to move and to use the nearby phone to call for help. His kidney was harvested.

We've all heard this and countless other urban legends and authors Chip and Dan Heath explain why we remember items like this and better yet, why we forward them to our entire e-mail list.

The book itself is an onomatopoeic marketing test case with its Cleveland Browns-orange cover with a piece of duct tape seemingly stuck to it. The cover was meant to grab your eye and be remembered - made to stick.

The gist of the book is the series of examples and explanations as to why some ideas are remembered and thrive (sticky) and others are forgotten. Some, like the urban legend organ theft, are familiar.

A few have been mentioned in every marketing book and class. Like the teacher who experiments with her kids and tells them blue-eyed kids are smarter than brown eyed kids. The blue-eyes then have better results until she "corrects here error" and declares that brownies are the smarter ones. Then the brown-eyes excel.

We learn how to convince people and to make an idea stick via examples such as the scientist who drank a beaker full of bacteria to prove his point about stomach ulcers.

We learn the power of persuasion by example when a scientist compares the fat in movie popcorn to a day's worth of fat.

The author brothers admit that they got the idea of stickiness from the 2000 Malcolm Gladwell book called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. The Tipping Point looked at what forces caused something to grow from small groups to huge populations. What we would now call, going viral.

They come up with 6 reasons why some ideas are sticky (we all remember the needles in Halloween candy stories - they stuck, no pun intended).

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotions
  6. Stories

It's an interesting read (or listen) and I will probably borrow some of their examples in future presentations. We all want our brilliant ideas to go viral and this book helps us define some of the properties and characteristics that might make that happen.

Great Lakes Geek Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pocket protectors.

Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

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