Book Report: Made to Stick

What do "Where's the Beef?" and the urban legend about having your kidney stolen and waking up in a bathtub full of ice have in common? According to Chip and Dan Heath, it's "stickiness." The brothers Heath have identified six attributes of a story that "sticks." Conveniently, these attributes spell SUCCES(s): simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, story.

Made to Stick is an enjoyable read, packed with real examples that illustrate how to craft memorable messages. I immediately found myself thinking about the next few ideas I need to share with a group, from an upcoming presentation in Seattle to new workplace procedures.

The Heaths emphasize that while this book is certainly useful for professional storytellers, such as fundraisers or marketers, anyone can use the principles they share to communicate more effectively. There's no way that I am going to win any writing competitions with my fascinating prospect management procedures. But Made to Stick did spur some thoughts about how to present them so that they are memorable, making it much more likely that my co-workers will follow them.

Instead of just presenting the procedures (Step 1 -- do this; Step 2 -- do the next thing), I am going to tell the story of a new major gift prospect who becomes a major gift donor, and show how our prospect management procedures helped further that relationship. Suddenly the abstract and dry procedures I have written become a story about a development officer who successfully lands a giant donation -- much more compelling.

This book makes a great companion read to Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive, reviewed earlier here.