Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Made to Stick

Enthymemes are elusive prey. Aristotle spoke of them in Rhetoric. Owen Jenkins made them the focus of his writing seminar at Carleton College. And I have been stalking them ever since I took that class 25 years ago. Now the Heath brothers have captured and tamed them in Made to Stick.

At first glance, I thought the book was going to be a history of duct tape. That was enough to grab my attention. The subtitle, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, put me back on the right track and kept me interested. Inside, Chip and Dan Heath, dissect ideas which capture the imagination.

They call these "sticky" ideas. And the anatomy of sticky ideas is summed up in SUCCESs: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. Instead of a Joe Friday "Just the facts, ma'am" approach to communication, the Heaths demonstrate the most effective communication is through simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional stories. Their research is backed with plenty of case studies. This is an excellent book for marketers and anyone interested improving communication skills.

Aristotle never appears in Made to Stick. And the stories which resonate and amplify are never called enthymemes. But that's what sticky ideas are. They are still elusive. The Heaths have written an excellent guide book to help identify and propogate them.

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