Made To Stick Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Made To Stick examines advertising campaigns, urban myths and compelling stories to determine the six traits that make ideas stick in our brains, so you don’t just know why you remember some things better than others, but can also spread your own ideas more easily among the right people.

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Made To Stick Summary

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Some siblings just play extraordinarily well together. Like Chip and Dan Heath, who both turned out to thrive in an academic environment, ending up teaching at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Duke University, respectively. If you had a brother and you both taught business at two of the most prestigious schools of the country, what would you do?

Of course, write a book about business! They’ve done just that. Three times. Made To Stick was their first book, which ended up being translated into 25 languages. Often mentioned in the same breath with absolute bestsellers like The Tipping Point or Built To Last, it describes a simple way of getting others to pay attention to your ideas.

Chip and Dan found six simple traits all sticky ideas share. They give us a simple acronym to remember them: “SUCCES.” Your ideas should be…

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Let’s dig deeper into 3 of these factors so you can get your friends and co-workers to listen to what you have to say:

  1. Sticky ideas are always unexpected.
  2. Use curiosity gaps to keep your listener’s attention.
  3. The best way to get your ideas to stick is to tell great stories.

Want some mental duct tape for your best thoughts? Sure, here you go!

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Lesson 1: A sticky idea will always make us listen up, because it’s unexpected.

For something to stick, you have to notice it first. If an article’s headline isn’t good, neither does it matter if the rest of the article is, because you’ll never even start reading it. The same thing holds true for advertisements, books in a book store, or products in the supermarket – if it doesn’t stand out, it’s as if it’s not there. People have long become blind to online banners too, so whatever doesn’t take us by surprise gets left out in the cold.

That’s why sticky ideas are always the ones you don’t expect.

For example, imagine instead of the usual humdrum speech a flight attendant gives, she’d suddenly say: “I know there are more than 100 ways to leave your lover, but there’s just one off this plane.” Would that get your attention?

Or a banner ad that showed nothing more than a mysterious symbol? How about a book with a bright, orange cover, that sticks out from the rest? Or a coffee brand that comes in elegant capsules, all black on black?

To get people to perk their ears up at your ideas, you have to risk sticking out like a sore thumb. No risk, no fun!

Lesson 2: You can use curiosity gaps to keep your listener’s attention, once you have it.

If you think getting peoples’ attention is hard…then you’d be right. However, once you have it, it gets even harder, because now, you have to hold it. The reason people run on autopilot in the first place is that they think they know everything they need to know right now. However, if you can convince them that they don’t, guess what’s going to happen? Of course, they’ll do whatever it takes to find out!

Showing people that there’s something important they don’t know yet, and giving them a way to find out is a very powerful way to make your ideas stick, and it’s called a curiosity gap.

So when Marvel asks you on Twitter whether you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, the first thing you want to know is who else is on each team and what the heck the two camps are even about. Typical clickbait headlines on sites like Buzzfeed use the same principle, by asking you thought-provoking questions, like “Can We Guess Your Favorite Season Based On Your Favorite Disney Princess?”

Present powerful facts, figures and questions as your opening line, and you’ll have poked your audience’s interest.

Then, it’s storytelling time.

Lesson 3: The best way to get your ideas to stick is to tell great stories.

Every time I read the word or the phrase, I hear a roaring Gary Vaynerchuk in the back of my head, screaming at the top of his lungs: “TELL STORIES FOR THE YEAR WE LIVE IN!!!” or something along those lines 😀 He continues to tell great ones, and there’s always one you haven’t heard.

In 2016 and beyond, I truly believe the best thing you can do, if you want to market something, anything really, whether that’s your product, your service, or yourself, is to stop marketing and start storytelling.

Creating good slogans and advertisements for your idea is important, but even if you’re a billion dollar business like Subway, being able to share a story of a guy who lost 200 pounds eating only your food is priceless.

Chip and Dan say there are three common, well-suited patterns to tell your stories, which are timeless:

  1. Challenge – when an underdog beats an incumbent, a David vs. Goliath kind of story, which gets people to take action.
  2. Reaching out – when an unfamiliar character, a “Good Samaritan” helps a stranger in need, which speaks to our empathy.
  3. Creativity – when a problem is solved in a creative new way, giving us a chance to look at things from another angle.

The best thing you can do to get more people on board with your ideas is to just practice telling stories – every day. No matter whether you do it in writing, speaking, video, or whatever other format you can think of. The point is to just start.

Made To Stick Review

Made To Stick was very refreshing. Simple, to the point, and didn’t feel like it was fluffed up. Their SUCCES model describes six traits of sticky ideas and how you can position yours accordingly, that’s it. No matter whether you have a business or not, today, we’re all selling something. Chances are, you can learn a lot about how you can do better work from this book. Give it a go!

Who would I recommend the Made To Stick summary to?

The 22 year old marketing intern, who wants to learn how to sell stuff, the 44 year old book author, who wants to share his story with the world, and anyone who’s not already practicing storytelling every single day.

Last Updated on August 2, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!