Sticky Ideas

Read Me - Book CoverAn Elegant Idea

There are cars and them some. There are people and those other ones. And, there are ideas and elegant ones.

Part of the art and science of creating great ideas is to design them so they are simple, memorable and easy to pass on. We want our ideas to stick like that pop tune you can’t get out of your head.

In their entertaining and insightful book Read Me, Horberry and Lingwood share nine proven ways to make your copy and your ideas stick. Here they are…

1 Create an emotional connection

If we don’t make a connection with the reader, then our words are wasted. Instead, we need to trigger an emotional response.

TIP: The ideal way to do that is to make an appeal that is personally relevant to your audience.

2 Say it strange

Apple didn’t say ‘Think Differently’. They said ‘Think Different’. And, this cause a lot of people to stop and think. Is that right? Not only did it capture attention, it sparked conversation and ultimately stuck in the minds of many.

TIP: Play with your words to say it different. Or should that be differently? Use an unusual phrase, word or saying.

3 Tell them something they don’t know

If you’re churning out the same-old same-old then the chances of us noticing, caring and remembering are slim. Instead, focus on the unusual. For instance, Ogilvy’s famous advert “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”

TIP: What does your audience know? What don’t they know? Focus on the surprising things they don’t know.

4 Tell them a story

Our brains are wired to relate to stories quickly, easily and effectively.

TIP: Think of your story as a journey to entice your audience to join. Where do you start? What are the challenges? How do they overcome them for a happy ending?

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5 Have something to say

Small talk equals small impact. Instead, talk big. Talk about something important, something that matters, and something that makes a difference. Hold an opinion and be strong enough to have something important to say.

TIP: If you’ve got something to say then say it! The more you try to pander to everyone the more you’ll water down your message and your impact.

6 Compare and Contrast

Our brains are lazy! They’ve evolved that way to conserve energy. Whenever something is similar to something else, your brain will likely skip over it, zoom past it and forget about it in an instant. Instead, provide a comparison and contrast to heighten the point of difference. Black and white – Small, Middle, Big – Before and After.

TIP: Show me how your idea is different by comparing it to something we already know.

7 Prove it

One of the best ways to create stickiness in your message is to use specific numbers to present a compelling case. 73% of people know this to be true. I just made that up and you get the point.

TIP: Quantify the difference you make by using specific numbers to prove your point of view.

8 Don’t Play it Safe

Whilst your audience might be the middle majority that play it safe in all of their lives, the last thing you want to do is remind them of it. Instead, push the boundaries and go to the edge of what is known and possible. Instead of shoes for jogging around the block, consider the needs of running around Australia!

TIP: Be bold and present an exciting and edgy point of view.

9 Keep it real

Concrete beats concept. Ideas can be like catching fresh air. The more tangible your idea, the more likely your audience will grab onto it. Avoid business speak and jargon.

TIP: Look for everyday, concrete and tangible examples as the means to making your idea real.


Roger Horberry and Gyles Lingwood, Read Me – 10 Lessons for Writing Great Copy – Buy Read Me on Book Depository


COMMENT: Which of these nine strategies appeal to you? How can you use them today?


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