90+ Examples of ‘Made To Stick’ Principles in Marketing

Samuel Hum
Samuel Hum
January 20, 2015
2 min read
90+ Examples of ‘Made To Stick’ Principles in Marketing

In this article

Over the past couple of months, we've covered the 6 Made to Stick principles by Chip and Dan Heath, with close to 100 real-world marketing examples!

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Here's a recap on how each principle works, and how you can apply them on your own branding/marketing messages:

1. Simple MTS ReferralCandy

Strip your brand message down to its core elements, so it's easier to absorb.

When you're trying to sell your product, you might have a lot to share.

You expect them to absorb everything, and see things from your perspective, right? That's the curse of knowledge.

People get confused when they're presented too many things at once, and they usually get turned-off.

Here's how you can communicate your ideas succinctly:

  1. Single out your most important aspect of your message
  2. Make it super-easy for them to understand, eliminating jargon and using evocative analogies.

Learn more: Keep it Simple, Stupid: 23 Examples of Simplicity in Marketing


2-Unexpected MTS ReferralCandy

Shatter your customers' expectations with something counter-intuitive, then delight them with great value.

Normal can be boring.

When you do something unexpected, the surprise grabs their attention and they'll remember you.

Here's how you can make your message unexpected the right way:

  1. Identify your core message
  2. Find an angle that's counter-intuitive about it
  3. Communicate your message like a mystery: pique their curiosity before providing the answer when they can't figure it out.

Learn more: OMG! 18 Examples of Unexpectedness in Marketing

3-Concrete MTS ReferralCandy

Use concrete terms that appeal to the senses so people will remember it better.

In Aesop's fables, we remember the idea of feeling bitter when we don't get what we want from the concept of "sour grapes".

Imagining sourness appeals to our sense of taste, and is easier than "bitterness from not getting what we want".

Learn more: A Brick to the Head: 15 Examples of Concreteness in Marketing


4-Credible MTS ReferralCandy

Show that your stuff really works, and people will trust you more.

The fastest way to establish credibility is to us an authority figure, as illustrated in Robert Cialdini's principle of Authority.

But what if you cannot find a celebrity or industry expert to endorse your product?

Here are 5 ways to go about it:

  1. Use an Anti-authority – Use “living proof” to show that your product works.
  2. Provide extensive details – More details about your product = more internal credibility.
  3. Utilize Statistics – Surface data that illustrates the point you’re making.
  4. Pass The Sinatra Test – Look for one proof that’ll convince all your customers that you’re great.
  5. Present Testable Credentials – Allow customers to test your product/idea for themselves.

Learn more: See For Yourself! 12 Examples of Credibility in Marketing

5-Emotional MTS ReferralCandy

Appeal to the heart, not the mind.

It's been shown that when people think rationally, they're tend to feel less empathetic.

When people feel less, they're less likely to act; emotions are bigger drivers of behavior.

Here's how you can appeal to people's emotional side and inspire action:

  1. Focus on an Individual – We feel more for a visceral picture of a starving kid than a “100 kids die from starvation daily” statistic.
  2. Establish an Association – Allow people to associate something they do with something you want them to care about.
  3. Appeal to one’s Self-interest – Tell customers what they stand to gain, not the features your product has.
  4. Relate to one’s Identity – We buy things that appeal to our identity: who we are, and what we value.

Learn more: #feels – 13 Examples of Emotion-centric Marketing


6-Stories MTS ReferralCandy

Use stories to communicate your most important messages.

Stories not only provide context for what to do in certain situations, but also the motivation to act on them.

To make use of this powerful tool to inspire people to act, 3 story plot types are suggested in Made to Stick:

  1. Challenge plot – David vs Goliath; The underdog who faces insurmountable odds
  2. Connection plot – Bridging the gap; developing relationships with others from different backgrounds
  3. Creative plot – The Eureka moment; Solving problems in an interesting and creative way

Learn more: It was a dark and stormy night… – 24 Examples of Storytelling in Marketing

Being sticky not only makes your brand memorable; it motivates people to take action.

The stickiest ideas makes us feel something, and changes something in us.

It could be a new way of looking at things, or an emotion we didn't expect to feel.

When we watch a motivational video of a chubby teen jogging, we feel motivated to exercise.

In the same way, this change inspires us to take action.

So whether you're a business owner, a marketing director or a blog writer, everything you say should be sticky.


Read next: Check out this infographic cheatsheet we created based on Made to Stick!

Samuel Hum
Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.

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