I recently read the book called “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Health. It’s incredibly insightful about how to make ideas stick. “Ideas” include presentations, advertising, value propositions, training and so much more.
How many times have you watched or read an ad, maybe even multiple times, and later you really couldn’t tell someone what it was about? But if I asked you if you could tell me who “Jared” is associated with after losing hundreds of pounds on a diet consisting of sandwiches from a fast food restaurant, most of you would recognize the guy in the Subway commercial.
How to Make Ideas Stick
Chip and Dan identify six (6) principles that help make ideas stick. They are Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. They didn’t simply think these up off the top of their head though.
In 1999, an Israeli research team reviewed 200 highly-effective ads and found that 89% of them could be classified into six (6) basic categories. The same researchers attempted to classify 200 other ads that had not received awards into the same six (6) categories. They found that only 2% of the less-effective ads could be placed into these categories.
Clearly there are very deliberate things that need to be done to make an ad, presentation, training, or any other idea you are trying to communicate worth remembering. You can study and learn these concepts and then work on putting them into practice.
The Curse of Knowledge
However, there is also a major obstacle that keeps many people from successfully pulling off these principles. Chip and Dan call it the “Curse of Knowledge”. At Xcellimark we see this all the time when working with clients. They know their product or service so well that they believe they are communicating it effectively, but many times they leave out key elements that pull their idea together. They don’t see the gap because it’s just so natural for them they believe everyone understands the subject in the same way they do.
To help illustrate this concept the Heath brothers tell the story of a study done in 1990 by Elizabeth Newton as she earned her Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford. It was a simple game called “tappers” and “listeners”.
Reach the Tappers and the Listeners
After receiving a list of 25 well-known songs such as “Happy Birthday” and the “Star Spangled Banner,” the Tappers were asked to tap out one of the songs to a Listener. The Listener was supposed to guess the song based upon the rhythm being tapped.
Amazingly, the Listeners were only able to identify 3 out of the 120 songs that were tapped. However, when asked ahead of time how many songs the Tappers thought the Listeners would be able to guess, they speculated that the Listeners would get it right 50% of the time. So even though the Listeners only guessed the correct song 1 time in 40, the Tappers thought they were getting their message across 1 in 2 times!
That’s the perfect example of the Curse of Knowledge. We believe we are being so clear when actually people have no idea what we are talking about. That’s one reason some people are not very successful with Internet advertising, or with converting people on their website. They may believe they have presented a very compelling message when in reality people either don’t get it or are not moved by it in the least.
Create a Message that Compels People to Act
Knowing how to effectively write an Internet ad that will get someone’s attention and then associating it with a landing page that helps clarify the message in a way that compels the visitor to act is a much more daunting task than most think. And even when you find a recipe for success, you need to ask yourself if you are doing as well as you can be. Is it as good as it gets?
Getting people to act involves creating a message that resonates with people and following it through with enough understandable and interesting information that clearly helps them see how your product or service will fix their need. Make sure you create a message and website that sticks and then test that message and website page with something you think may be even better to see if you can improve your results.