Thursday, May 22, 2014

Made to Stick: Examples for Associations


The other day I received the following email from an association management colleague:
  • “In case you are not aware, you are quoted in a new book by Nina Teicholz called “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet”. The premise is that all of the science that supports the position that too much saturated fat in the diet is connected to heart disease has been contrived by the food industry.”
  • “Teicholz quotes you as being concerned that Malaysian palm oil imports were eating into U.S. soybean profits. The book also cites you, who she describes as a top executive at the ASA in the mid-1980s, as follows: “In order to drive tropical oils out of the market once again, Drake ran what amounted to a slander campaign from 1986 to 1989 out of ASA headquarters in St. Louis.”
I laughed when I read the comment. That campaign was almost 30 years ago! It must have stuck. That reminded me of the awesome book Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

In their Made to Stick book, Chip and Dan Heath share a 6-part SUCCESs formula that helps make ideas stick. Those six are:

S: Simplicity
U: Unexpectedness
C: Concreteness
C: Credibility
E: Emotions
S: Stories
s = sticks

Over the course of my career in public relations and association management, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of “sticky” campaigns or programs that yielded meaningful results.

They include:
  • As the PR director for Clarke College, one of 38+ liberal arts colleges in Iowa, I crafted a phrase to create distinction. All our materials and public relations branded us as: Clarke the Woman’s College. It worked well. It was simple, unexpected and concrete (Note: long after I left, Clarke went co-ed and lost that distinctive difference.)
  • In the early 1980s, the American Soybean Association advocated a formula to establish a “federal loan rate” for soybeans. During debate (with Congress and others) about establishing the new rate, that formula called for the loan rate to be $5.02. During a policy meeting, our Washington lobbyist said we should call for a loan of $5. I suggested we should reinforce our policy formula and call for a loan rate of $5.02. We did and it stuck. It was simple, specific (concrete) and credible.
  • The Tropical Fats campaign (mentioned in the book above) helped stem the tide of imported palm oil. A cartoon character called Tropical Fats grabbed attention and helped drive the message home. It was simple and emotional.
  • The “Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees” adver-game which was part of an overall marketing campaign to increase the use and sales of farm-grown Christmas trees. It was concrete, emotional and shared stories. Based on the results, our campaign is a case study featured in the 10th edition of the college marketing textbook Consumer Behavior.   
How “sticky” are the campaigns/messages you create for your association or nonprofit organization?

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