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Get Your Message to Stick

Friday, May 15, 2015

by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director


One of the hardest things for a business to do, especially when starting up or launching a new product line, is finding a message that will capture the hearts of their customers and potential customers.  Think about how much information bombards your customers everyday.  If you don’t give them a strong and clear cut reason why to shop your business or choose your product, they are not going to take action.


The book entitled Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath outlines six principles that are important in creating a ‘sticky’ idea.  A ‘sticky’ idea is one people can readily understand, that they will remember and that will change how they think and/or act.  The attributes of a sticky idea include being simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and being tied to a story.  The more of these principles that can be weaved into any idea or message, the stickier it becomes.  If your message lacks these principles, people will not remember it or may misunderstand it and worst of all, they won’t act on it. 


First of all, the idea must be simple or at least communicated in a simple way.  The challenge for most business is to carve away all the excess to get down to the very core of their idea or business, the most important facet (to the customer).  The knowledge a business owner has about the idea becomes a trap.  Business owners want to expound on all the wonderful things about the business or all the great features of the product making it difficult to focus on the core concept most important to the customer.  Focusing on the core may require you not only to take away the excess but you may also have to take away the important facets of the idea that just aren’t the most important facets.


Sticky ideas are unexpected.  They surprise you and you are more likely to remember them.  They should also be concrete, so clearly defined that everyone understands and the outcome or success of the idea is not debatable.  The source of the idea or message must have credibility.  Unexpected, yet believable. 


Lastly, the idea or the message must strike a chord of emotion within your customer; it should make them feel something.  Joy, Anger, Sadness, Compassion, Prestige – what emotion is going to catch your customers’ attention and move them toward action?  It is very helpful to create a story around your idea that helps people remember and make that emotional tie to the idea or business.


So next time you are wanting to capture your customers’ attention, think about these principles and see if you can’t make your idea ‘stick’.


Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses.  She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or  The Center is hosted by GROW South Dakota (aka Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program).

Category: GROW SD

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GROW South Dakota

GROW South Dakota
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