I’ve been reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Thrive and Others Die, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. Part history lesson, part anthropological study, part how-to guide, ‘Stick’ explores the ins and outs of what makes ideas catch hold.
It’s a fantastic book that outlines six principles on what makes a concept ‘sticky”: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. In short: SUCCES(s). It’s a neat word trick, if a little trite, but by illustrating the power behind Urban Legends, JFK’s call to “send a man to the moon”, or Southwest Airline’s mission to be the ‘low cost airline’, ‘Stick’ relates stories on how to tell stories more effectively, in ways that will give your idea (or your client’s) longevity, meaning and power. If you’re in the communications biz and haven’t read this, go do it now. It will change your view on messaging.
But wait, I digress. This isn’t a book review.
Made to Stick was published in January 2007. It made many of the “Best of 2007” lists. As of today it ranked 169 on Amazon Books. It’s a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller.
I’m just reading it now.
Perhaps not completely objective, I feel I’m on top of things. I’m connected. I’m active on Facebook, LinkedIn to hundreds of professional contacts, and I subscribe to dozens of marketing & communications blogs in my RSS reader. I Digg This! I read industry trades daily (I’m in PR for god sakes) and I religiously read the Sunday Book Review in the New York Times.
How did I miss out on this? Did my Amazon preferences fail me?
The authors and their publisher, Random House, did a great job marketing the book. They have their own website, an ongoing dedicated blog to keep the book’s concepts fresh and alive, book tours, public speaking engagements, hundreds of reviews . . . all the right accolades.
In the end it took a complete stranger interviewing for a job (which he didn’t get), to come into my office, talk to me for 20 seconds on the book’s merits, to get me to rush out and purchase it.
Word of mouth (WOM) is incredibly potent. It’s the driving force behind social media and why we as marketers strive to open a dialog and start a conversation. It even has its own marketing category now - WOMM.
So where was the breakdown? Do I think social media failed here? Absolutely not. If anything my experience with Made to Stick underscores the importance of leveraging social dialog to push concepts and influence outcomes.
In the same way that I’m linked in and good to go, I’m likely overly so, and my introduction to this great book from a direct, digital source got lost in the mix. But it did hit someone, several thousand someones actually, and those connections circled around to me in a very concrete, personal way.
I’m curious to see how many, if any, based on this blog post, pick up a copy of the book.
(I posted this last month in the Fusion PR Forum. I know, I know, desperate attempts to jump start this here blog . . . but hey, I need content.)