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Be Sticky, Not Messy

You have a challenge, how can you get your customers to react to your marketing?

Often the logical reason why people should buy or use your products or services is obvious and despite everyone knowing why they should buy, for whatever reason, they simply don't buy or don't buy from you. You can advertise that you are good at what you do, or you do it for a good price, but your promotion doesn't seem to generate the reaction you want.

When you are feeling stuck, it's time to get sticky!

Chip and Dan Heath have a phenomenal book called "Made to Stick", (a must-read). They explain in depth the phenomenon of certain ideas that simply stick with consumers.

One of the first cases discussed is how the Center for Science in the Public Interest's, struggling to educate consumers about the unhealthy amount of saturated fat (37 grams) in movie theater popcorn. They tried advertising, educating about the number of saturated fats in the popcorn and the dangers of too much fat, but people simply didn't pay attention.

"The challenge, Art Silverman realized, was that few people know what "37 grams of saturated fat" means. Most of us don't memorize the USDA's daily nutrition recommendations. Is 37 grams good or bad? And even if we have an intuition that it's bad. we'd wonder if was "bad bad" (like cigarettes) or "normal bad" (like a cookie or a milkshake)

The amount of fat in this popcorn was, in some sense, not rational. It was ludicrous. The CSPI needed a way to shape the message in a way that fully communicated this ludicrousness. Silverman came up with a solution.

CSPI called a press conference on September 27, 1992. Here's the message it presented: "A medium-sized ‘butter' popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat [Jesus wept] than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings – combined!"

CSPI had a table set out with all the food items in a buffet style next to a medium-sized popcorn serving. The visual and the facts combined to drive home the message and popcorn sales dropped 50% forcing theaters to switch to healthier popcorn oils.

The takeaway is that you may need to come up with a spectacular way of showing people the truth or opening their eyes in a new way to the facts they may already "know".

1. A good place to start is to ask your friends or customers, "what was something unusual about what you do that stuck with them?"

2. Read Dan and Chip's book

One thing I would encourage is that while trying to come up with creative ways to make your message stick, don't get messy. Keep your message tight, don't try to be too creative or force consumers to make too much of a leap to understand your point.

Be Sticky, not Messy!

I am available weeknights 6-7 PM to discuss how we can make your marketing stick!


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