Getting People to Adopt Your Ideas — Book Review: Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (New York: Random House, 2007, 2008).

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath offer a very practical and well-researched guide to creating ideas that will penetrate the market and produce profit. Chip, a professor of organizational behavior (Stanford) and Dan, a consultant to the Policy Program at the Aspen Institute, are well positioned to offer insights on this subject.

The Heath brothers’ tips can be applied to several areas of business—writing, marketing, strategy and even running effective meetings. The Heath brothers summarize sticky ideas with the acronym SUCCES (the last “S” is intentionally missing): Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional and Stories.

Through examples from leaders in multiple industries, the authors point out that sticky ideas contain multiple “SUCCES” attributes. Even if the reader only takes away this acronym from the book, and attempts to apply it to their day-to-day work-practice, the book is a worthy read. The appeal of this book is its “concreteness.” The Heath brothers do not offer abstract marketing principles, but easily applicable ways of thinking. Anyone can ask themselves the following questions before presenting information of any kind:

  1. Is my message simple (straight-to-the-point)? Does it present any confusion in the mind of the reader?
  2. Does my idea bring something unexpected, or is it predictable? Furthermore, if it has unexpectedness, does it help the audience retain focus on my message?
  3. Is my idea concrete? Is it real, and something people can quickly wrap their head around? (Philosophical ideas don’t stick; “high” scholastic language is often unusable, and therefore harder to remember).
  4. Are my sources credible? Do I have the evidence (not circumstantial, but real) to present my idea?
  5. Have I appealed to people’s emotions in my tactic? Will the audience be moved to tears or happiness by message? Does it strike a chord with them?
  6. Is the story I present interesting, and appealing? Is it a story people want to hear? Is there a better lead for this story that is appealing to a larger audience?

One of the greatest insights of the book is the constant question the Heath brothers emphasize: Who is my target audience and how can I make that target person, family, or business concrete in my mind? The more concrete our audience is in our mind, the better we will be able to present them with our message.

I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to improve the way they communicate. 5 stars.


(I read this book as part of Logos Bible Software’s “Read for Cash” program. The author and/or publisher in no way influenced my review. However, the link to the title above is an affiliate link, so I will receive a small amount if you purchase the book after clicking the link.)

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