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Made To Stick, Chapter 2 6/6/11


Regular place, regular time.

Here are some great questions from Tom:

Chapter Summary from the Brothers Heath:

Unexpectedness is about grabbing people’s attention. You can grab people’s attention by surprising them, and an easy way to surprise them is to break a pattern (the way car alarms get our attention by cycling their annoying sound patterns). You can surprise people by violating their expectations or forcing their “guess- ing machines” to miss a guess. (For example, the way that Nordstrom employees are told stories about “the Nordie who ironed a shirt for a customer who needed to wear it that afternoon.” That breaks the employee’s schema of customer service.) Surprise is an emotion that forces us to pause to collect more information about the world. Surprise can be gimmicky—think of dot-com ads—but it is powerful when used in the service of a core message. (See the Nora Ephron story “There is no school next Thursday” for an example, pp. 75–76.)

Surprise gets people’s attention in the moment, and curiosity holds their attention over time. How do you spark curiosity? The “gap theory” of curiosity holds that curiosity comes from a gap between what we know and what we want to know. These gaps cause us a kind of pain—we want to fill them. Hollywood screenplays string us along in this way, but the same technique works in college classes, as when a teacher started his class with the mystery, “What are Saturn’s rings made of?” Curiosity gaps can work in the long-term: Sony’s 1950s quest for a “pocketable radio” kept its engineers busy for years, and JFK’s “man on the moon” speech kept a nation busy for a decade.

Tom’s Discussion Questions:

1) Be prepared to share at least one of the three things 1) How have you successfully “violated somebody’s schema” to create a sticky message in your business? How have you recently been unexpectedly surprised or had your schema violated (that sounds inappropriate) or 3) Where is there an opportunity to get your customers’ attention

2) Do you think that a fair number of your customers would rather be consistently pleased with the high quality of your product or service over being unexpectedly surprised by your business?

3) Be prepared to share some ways to successfully implement the “Gap Theory of Curiosity” into your business?

4) When was the last time an ad, movie or television show had you hanging on the edge of your seat? What were the knowledge gaps it set up?

5) Off-topic: Did anybody else laugh out loud when the author’s mentioned their curiosity surrounding celebrities, specifically Tiger Woods and his secret vices?


Made To Stick: 5/25 Introduction

Hello, fellas. We’ll be at Missouri Funeral at at 7:30 a.m. this week. If you want to participate and have not picked up your copy of the book, you can read the introduction here:


From Tom:

For Wednesday, May 25, please read the Introduction.

From the authors: The book opens with the famous urban legend about the business traveler who accepts a drink from an attractive stranger, only to lose consciousness and wake up in a bathtub full of ice—without his kidneys. Why does a false idea like the “kidney thieves” story circulate so effortlessly, when so many of us fight in vain to have our ideas stick?
A sticky idea is one that is understood, remembered, and creates some kind of change—in opinion, behavior, or values.

We begin to show that dissimilar ideas—say, the kidney thieves tale and a non-profit campaign warning about the fattiness of movie popcorn—have certain traits in common. In studying a panorama of ideas, ranging from urban legends to ad campaigns to proverbs, we’ve identified six traits that sticky ideas share. They are: SIMPLE, UNEXPECTED, CONCRETE, CREDIBLE, EMOTIONAL, and STORY.

Discussion questions:

1) The Brothers Heath provide several examples of urban legends, proverbs, and ads that are sticky. Can you give specific examples of sticky messages that you have seen recently in your business vertical? Or in general? What traits of stickiness did they exhibit?

2) The authors cite a research study that shows that there are a few templates that are responsible for lots of successful ads. They say a “color by numbers” approach may actually be desirable. Do you agree? Why or why not?

3) Has the ‘curse of knowledge’ impacted your ability to effectively communicate to your audience (customers). Is this an opportunity to create sticky ideas?

5/18 QR Codes & “Made To Stick”

We’ll be meeting at 7:30 a.m., Missouri Funeral Care this Wednesday. Here’s some information about our discussion for this week and our next book selection.


In wrapping up some of our discussions regarding managing your online presence, this week we will talk about QR Codes and how they can be used in your business. These barcodes-on-steroids have been very popular overseas and are just starting to take hold in the states.

Check out this article on the Social Media Examiner:


Tom Wolff has agreed to lead our group in a study of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I’m very excited about exploring this book with Tom’s guidance.

A summary from Publisher’s Weekly
Starred Review. Unabashedly inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling The Tipping Point, the brothers Heath—Chip a professor at Stanford’s business school, Dan a teacher and textbook publisher—offer an entertaining, practical guide to effective communication. Drawing extensively on psychosocial studies on memory, emotion and motivation, their study is couched in terms of “stickiness”—that is, the art of making ideas unforgettable. They start by relating the gruesome urban legend about a man who succumbs to a barroom flirtation only to wake up in a tub of ice, victim of an organ-harvesting ring. What makes such stories memorable and ensures their spread around the globe? The authors credit six key principles: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories. (The initial letters spell out “success”—well, almost.) They illustrate these principles with a host of stories, some familiar (Kennedy’s stirring call to “land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth” within a decade) and others very funny (Nora Ephron’s anecdote of how her high school journalism teacher used a simple, embarrassing trick to teach her how not to “bury the lead”). Throughout the book, sidebars show how bland messages can be made intriguing. Fun to read and solidly researched, this book deserves a wide readership. (Jan. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

You will want to get your hands on this book sometime this week. (You can also read the first chapter on their web site:

Here are some links of interest:

5/4 Let’s Show Our Hands

The forecast looks favorable for tomorrow. So, we’ll try meeting on the front patio at Benetti’s at 7 a.m. Missouri Funeral Care will be our back-up again.

This week, we’ll spend part of our time continuing our discussion about the online experience for our customers, and the rest of it talking about possible book options for the future.

Even though this will be uncomfortable for many of us, your assignment this week is to take a look at the web presence of several members of our group. I’m sure we’ll hear/say lots of things like “I really need to work on that,” or “We’re in the middle of a new design,” or “I’m not happy with this” tomorrow. But, hey, we all know what that’s like.

Now, if I couldn’t find your web site via Google… well, there’s something to discuss there, too. 🙂

Here we go:

Aviation Solutions/Aviation Premium Finance

Batts Communication

Bandwagon Merch

Benetti’s Coffee Experience

Eagle Automotive

The Executive Element

Heartland Cremation Society

Jensen Chiropractic

Kansas City Baptist Temple

Kamp’s Flowers

Missouri Funeral Care

Raytown Gregory Animal Health Center
And, they’re upcoming site:

Rocky T. Cannon Attorney At Law

4/27 E-Mail Marketing

Okay, this week, we’ll meet at Missouri Funeral Care at 7 a.m. and talk about e-mail marketing. We’ll let these two articles from Fast Company start the discussion. Jeff also attended a workshop conducted by Constant Contact and will have copies of some of the materials from that event.

Online Marketing’s “Instant Gratification” Takes Time

What Helps Small Business Grow? It’s Still Email

Jump In Oil Fuels Price Hikes For Other Goods – Kansas City News Story – KMBC Kansas City

Check out Jeff’s participation in this KMBC story.

Jump In Oil Fuels Price Hikes For Other Goods – Kansas City News Story – KMBC Kansas City.

4/20 Small Business Branding/Marketing Online

This week, we’ll be back at Missouri Funeral Care at 7 a.m. It doesn’t look like the weather will support a meeting on the patio, yet. 🙂

To begin a short series of discussions on marketing/branding online, I’m sharing four articles that speak of multiple aspects that you have to consider when managing a web presence. Then, in following weeks we can drill down a little bit into specific areas that interest members of the group, such as blogs, social media, web sites, etc.

Here are four SHORT reads that would be great for you to review. And, I put these in an order of priority to read.

Ten Commandments Of Social Media

Maximizing your web presence is key to building your small business

More Evidence SMBs Need A Web Presence

Why the Kids Don’t Blog and Grandma’s on Facebook