When writing your marketing messages and campaigns, along with being persuasive, it is often important for them to be memorable, and stick in the minds of your audience. Believe it or not, there is actually a science behind memorable content.

American Authors Chip and Dan Heath, in their 2007 book Made to Stick discuss the key elements of memorable content. Why is it that some ideas stand the test of time, and are still known today, yet others are forgotten? There are lessons that we were told as children, that we still remember today, but important facts that we hear and forget throughout our day-to-day lives.

As a simplified look at the psychology of sticky ideas, Chip and Dan Heath highlighted six characteristics of memorable content. These can be applied to your marketing content whenever possible. It isn’t always possible to apply all of them, but the more you can use, the better chance you have of creating stickiness. These elements are:


Find the core of your message. Summarise everything you are trying to get across, in a way that your audience can instantly understand, and in a concise way. Relentlessly prioritise your ideas, and boil them down to something profound and simple. Communicate the golden rule, or the one takeaway, rather than ten equally important points.


A bag of popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day’s worth of fatty foods!
Grab the attention with something people will not have expected. When looking through your original content, look for the most unexpected element, which may have previously been only a small part of your original message. By creating something unexpected, we generate curiosity and interest, which opens the mind to new knowledge.

When explaining something, making it clear and concrete is key. Our brains are wired to remember things that seem concrete to us. These are often things that relate to information we already know. Think about the cliché business statement: “maximize shareholder value”. This doesn’t mean a huge amount to many people, so compare it to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” The latter statement is easy to understand. We all know exactly what the goal is.


With millions of messages flying around all the time, we often ignore many due to a lack of credibility. How do we make people think we a credible and trustworthy enough for them to take the time to remember our ideas? Many use techniques like reviews to do this, with advertisers often relying on trusted opinions from respected professionals. Think back to any advert for a new toothpaste. A dentist is often quoted, often surrounded by their work equipment. This could quite easily be faked, but still it adds credibility.

We remember things we care about. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions, so think about the human emotion and human interaction element of your message. What does your product or service offer that helps people, and what is the original need?

Fables have survived the test of time, with rules, ideas and morals included. Stories are memorable, whenever possible, use a story to share your ideas and messages. Stories need a beginning, middle and an end, and can be for example, how a customer had a problem, used your product and solved their problem.




Make it work…

It can often be trickier putting this into practice, but when you have a campaign, be it an advertising campaign, a social media campaign or an email campaign, putting in any of the above elements can be what makes it memorable, and therefore leads to more sales. As mentioned before, not all campaigns can take in all six elements, but wherever possible, aim to include as many as you can.

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