Am pus originalul in engleza aici.
Make the idea a sticky one.
Almost every idea. It’s not important to have a great one or an exceptional one. You already know:
- great ideas aren’t always successful. Often, even magnificent insights go unrewarded and wind up gathering dust in file cabinets.
- at the same time, far less worthy ideas like rumors and urban legends spread like wildfire.
Why bad ones like rumors spread so quickly ?
They share two key qualities:
- They are memorable and
- People are eager to pass them onward.
HOW TO DO IT ?
A few years ago in America, certain health groups wanted to raise
awareness of the fact that movie popcorn – at the time prepared with
coconut oil – contained extraordinarily high amounts of saturated fat,
making it extremely unhealthy.
Simply telling consumers that a bag of popcorn contained 37 g of
saturated fat proved ineffective – the number was too dry and academic
to stick in people’s minds.
So they tried something stickier:
“A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie
theatre contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs
breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all
the trimmings – combined!”
This vivid message stuck, spread, and eventually led to the
replacement of coconut oil with healthier alternatives by all major
American cinema chains.
WHAT ELSE ?
(1) The idea must be simple.
You heard about KISS principle, right ?
The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept
simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a
key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
In the ideas worth spreading world KISS IS KING.
It’s tempting to try to explain an idea as thoroughly as possible. But, when it comes to stickiness, too much detail is counterproductive.
Instead, cut the idea down to just one simple statement; any more detail will be instantly forgotten, along with the key idea behind it all. A simple statement makes an idea easier to grasp and understand.
But remember, simplifying is an art. Encapsulating the core idea in terms that anyone can understand, without changing the meaning is quite hard.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Journalists.
They have to master this skill to come up with good headlines that grab readers’ attention and convey the meaning of an entire article in just a few words. Journalists know a bad headline can prevent a great article from getting the attention it deserves.
(2) The idea should be unexpected.
The brain likes to save energy by running on autopilot whenever possible. This means it allows information to just whizz past unremembered. It does this by subconsciously paying no attention to familiar or expected things.
When confronted with the unexpected, however, the brain jolts out of autopilot and into manual control; the unexpected receives our full attention.
Imagine a flight attendant giving the standard pre-flight safety
demonstration. The frequent flyers on board know the script inside out
and pay absolutely no attention. But if she were to suddenly break
from the normal briefing and declare that
“Whilst there may be 50 ways to leave your lover, there’s only one way off this plane”,
she’d have everyone on board listening.
It’s surprising just how quickly people come to ignore routine things. By presenting an idea in an unexpected or striking way, it gets the attention it deserves.
(3) An idea should stir the curiosity
What’s hard to do ?
A) Get the people’s attention and
B) Bold it.
Making use of curiosity gaps can help to overcome both these obstacles.
People allow themselves to go through everyday life on autopilot because they believe, to some extent, that they know pretty much everything they need to know to get them through the day.
The most effective way to grab someone’s attention is to show that there’s something important they don’t know – yet. This immediately jolts them out of autopilot by creating curiosity gaps – empty spaces in people’s understanding that they feel a compulsive need to fill, even if they previously weren’t interested in the subject.
GOOD EXAMPLE: Detective novels
Using tantalizing clues and red herrings to keep the reader guessing
“whodunit?” The curiosity gap technique is so successful that
celebrity gossip magazines often use it several times on the front
page; it’s proven to boost sales.
This is because the only way to satisfy the urge to fill the curiosity gap is by reading the rest of the story.
Curiosity gaps can only be created by something unexpected. Surprising facts and figures are great for this and are therefore a strong way of opening a successful pitch or presentation for any idea. For instance, “Why do 40 percent of our customers make up only 10 percent of our total sales?” immediately sticks in the audience’s mind and makes them want to hear more about the main idea.
(4) Don’t be abstract. Ideas should be concrete but descriptive !
People tend to express themselves in an abstract manner. The more we know about a subject, the more we couch explanations in abstract terms.
This is mainly because most people find it hard to put themselves in the listener’s shoes, or to ask themselves, “How does what I say sound to the other person?”
It’s often helpful to give examples or use descriptive imagery to help convey a point.
Concrete, visually-descriptive expressions aren’t just easier to understand, they stick.
Concreteness means avoiding unnecessary jargon when speaking about real people or events. The retail worker hasn’t just “delivered outstanding customer service”; they’ve given a customer a refund on a shirt even though it was bought at another branch of the store.
(5) A sticky idea must be credible.
In general, ideas only spread if they are believed; otherwise they are immediately dismissed out of hand.
Credibility can be gained in several ways.
Method 1: Have experts back a story up.
An expert doesn’t necessarily have to be a doctor in a white lab coat
– take, for example, the anti-smoking campaign which featured a woman
in her late twenties who had smoked since the age of ten. Now facing
her second lung transplant, she looked like a frail, elderly woman.
Her appearance itself added credibility to her story.
People trust stories told by real, trustworthy people.
Method 2: Use realistic facts and figures to illustrate the point
Another way of adding credibility to a story is to use realistic facts
and figures to illustrate the point – but only if they paint a
concrete, non-abstract picture. Over-reliance on statistics is a
common and confusing mistake.
An example of effective use of statistics is the anti-war campaign
that claims the world’s combined current nuclear arsenal has five
thousand times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed
Hiroshima. This gives the audience a common reference point (the
imagery of the destruction at Hiroshima) and challenges them to
imagine five thousand times that force. As this is essentially
incomprehensible, it underlines their key idea: that nuclear
proliferation has gone too far.
As an added bonus, the audience now has a ready-made statistic to use to pass the message on to others.
Using the audience itself as a reference is particularly good at bestowing credibility. Ronald Reagan’s electoral slogan directly addressed voters: “Ask yourself, are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
People often trust their own judgment more than they do an expert’s, so if the audience can personally verify your message, it is particularly credible.
(6) Use emotions to inspire.
Focus on emotional triggers rather than dry facts when presenting an idea.
To get people to donate to aid appeals for starving African children, there are two possible approaches:
Either present facts and figures that powerfully demonstrate just how many millions of children are starving and how many die every day, or show a picture of just one child in need who could be saved by a donation.
The first approach appeals to the analytical part of the mind. If the statistics are credible, we consider them but probably won’t take any action.
The second approach appeals directly to our emotions. We find it just as credible as the first approach – after all, we can see with our own eyes a human being who is clearly starving – but more importantly, it inspires us to take action.
This is because emotions are the main driving force behind human behavior, rather than reason and statistics.
(7) Give something back to the audience.
Emotional appeals work because people are more interested in other people than in facts and figures.
But people are most interested in one person in particular: themselves.
Before going out of their way to do something, people always ask, “What’s in it for me?” So an appeal will be most successful if it can demonstrate that there’s something in it for the audience.
To capitalize on this, a company shouldn’t just list the features of, say, its new TV; it should show customers how these features could benefit them personally.
The customer needs to be able to see themselves, in their mind’s eye, sitting on the sofa at home, enjoying the benefits of these great new features.
This mindset was applied in a campaign in Texas aiming to discourage young people from littering. It coined the phrase, “Don’t mess with Texas,” and had it read out by Texan celebrities and athletes from local sports teams that the young Texans could identify with.
The “What’s in it for me?” in this case was for the young people to feel connected with their role models through their behavior. The campaign made them think, “Real Texans like me don’t leave litter on the sidewalk.”
(8) Make it a story
A story is like a flight simulator for the brain. It allows us to get inside the action and anticipate how we might react in the same situation.
Often when trying to spread an idea, people make the crucial mistake of getting rid of the story behind it in favor of an empty slogan.
While slogans can be useful at getting an idea to stick, they’re not very useful at inspiring people to take action. This is where stories and examples are most effective.
For example, the fast food chain Subway profited immensely from the true story of Jared Fogle; a seriously overweight man who managed to slim down to a healthy weight with a simple diet of two Subway meals per day.
No slogan in the world can match a story like this.
Almost all good stories follow one of a few recurring patterns.
A typical example is the challenge, in which a “David” takes on a “Goliath”. Stories like these inspire a lot of people to take action, following “David’s” example.
Another common pattern is reaching out, in which a “Good Samaritan” helps a complete stranger in need. This type of story is particularly good at inspiring better social behavior.
Stories about creativity, such as the apple falling on Newton’s head and inspiring his theory of gravity, encourage people to see the world from a new perspective or think outside the box.
Ideas should be:
Simple – find the core of any idea
Unexpected – grab people’s attention by surprising them
Concrete – make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
Credible – give an idea believability
Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
Story – empower people to use an idea through narrative