A key to making an idea sticky is to tell it as a story. Stories encourage a kind of mental simulation or reenactment on the part of the listener that burns the idea into the mind. The hard part about using a story is creating it. The best way to use a story is to always be on the look out for them. Most good stories are collected and discovered, rather than produced from scratch.
“Firefighters naturally swap stories after every fire, and by doing so they multiply their experience; after years of hearing stories, they have a richer, more complete mental catalog of critical situations they might confront during a fire and the appropriate responses to those situations. Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation in the physical environment. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.” — Chip & Dan Heath
A lot of today’s marketing relies on storytelling, and its undoubtedly been successful. Stories encompass all of the other elements of making an idea stick that have previously been talked about in this blog series. They help manifest your ideas and values in a way that is easy to understand, relate to, and remember.
One of the best examples when it comes to successful storytelling is the story of Jared Fogle from Subway. What better way to position your sandwiches as a healthy food choice than to share a story about a guy who lost an astonishing amount of weight by walking to your store and eating your sandwiches every day?
No athlete endorsement or surgeon’s approval could have as much influence as seeing a man hold up jeans that looked twice as large as his current size with pictures that prove his progress was real.
The reality is, we love stories and we want to be part of great stories. If your company has an inspirational story, or you have helped create a great story for someone else – it needs to be shared.
The book ‘Made to stick’ identifies 3 key types of story plots which can be used to create engaging stories:
- The Challenge Plot: Someone overcoming adversity
- The Connection Plot: People forming relationships despite challenges
- The Creativity Plot: People using their minds and skills to achieve their goals or cause change.
All in all, in order to form a lasting idea, you need to find a way to go beyond superficial claims and give them deeper meaning for your audience. Whether that meaning is professional or personal, connecting with people on this level, will help ensure that your idea is made to stick.
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