Sunday, May 13, 2007

Book Review: Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I just read the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. I loved it because as a small business owner you want your service and ideas to be "sticky" - that is, you want your product or service to be the one people remember.

By using their own principles, the Heaths outline their SUCCESs acronym (even though they admit it's a little corny) for how to make ideas stick. Here's how to use the SUCCESs principles to jazz up the sales of your small business:

S Simplicity

Find the core of your business by pulling out the most important idea or benefit you provide. Southwest Airlines is used as an example where former CEO Herb Kelleher informed his staff, "We are THE low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company's future as well as I can." When asked if he thought passengers flying from Houston to Las Vegas should be offered an entree he responded with, "Will adding (the entree) makes us THE low fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas? Because if it doesn't then we aren't serving any #^&>? chicken salad."

Don't become a victim of the "Curse of Knowledge." Remember, not everyone knows what you know and you are not "dumbing down" your product by making it appear simple or explaining it in simple terms.

U Unexpected

Surprise gets your attention and interest keeps your attention. The fastest way to get some one's attention is to break a pattern. Doesn't some of the most juicy gossip come from hearing about someone doing something completely out of character or unexpected? Keep your ideas interesting but not gimmicky.

C Concrete

Here the Heath's use Aesop's fable of the Fox and the Grapes. You might remember it: after the fox tries repeatedly to jump up to eat some grapes from a vine without success he says, "I'm sure they are sour." This is a story that has survived over 2,500 years because it reflects a truth about human nature. It illustrates a concrete and memorable example of the theme: "Don't be such a jerk when you fail."

The best teachers I have had used stories about real life to teach their subjects. To jazz up the sales of your business use concrete examples of how a client of yours will benefit. Stay away from statistics or impressive industry jargon. And within your business set specific goals with measurable targets and use them to keep you accountable to your business plan.

C Credible

What makes people believe ideas? Or believe our service or product is going to do what we say it will do? Naturally sticky ideas will persuade people to believe incredible things.

Vivid details will boost your credibility. An example is used of a jury's opinion in the custody hearing of the 7 year old son of Mrs. Johnson. In one presentation, Mrs. Johnson "sees to it that her child brushes his teeth before bedtime." Another argument said that "Mrs. Johnson's son uses a Star Wars toothbrush that looks like Darth Vader." Jurors felt more favorable towards Mrs. Johnson when presented with the vivid details of using the "Darth Vader toothbrush."

So instead of saying, "50% of people prefer our football helmets," say, "6 of the 12 people on the football team prefer our football helmets." Stay away from a barrage of statistics about how great your service or product is and provide a few extra vivid details of the benefits.


"If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will." Mother Teresa

Here the Heaths present facts of a research study where people were asked to donate to an African charity. The first group received a letter quoting statistics about foot shortages, severe rainfall and the number of people starving. The second group received a letter that told the story of a single young girl named Rokia, how she was facing starvation and what she would receive from your donation. Guess which letter generated twice as many donations? Yep, the one that told the story of a single young girl.
When selling your product remember to appeal to people's self interest. Don't sell "the world's greatest seed." Instead, sell "the world's greenest lawn."
A discussion of Maslow's Hierachy of needs is used to show that not only do you want to appeal to who your customers are right now... but also to the people that they want to be. What motivates your customers? Keep in mind that your customers are not always thinking, "What's in it for me?" They will be thinking, "What's in it for the customers I serve" or "How will this service help me become the person I want to be."

S Stories

Stories stimulate and inspire. Take the example of Jared who lost over 100 pounds by eating Subway sandwiches for lunch and dinner every day for 3 months. Use testimonials to demonstrate the success of your product or service. And use people's real names, real circumstances, and photos.