Tue, March 13 2007

Sticky Week II: Go for the Unexpected

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Last week, in the mail, I got a stuffed plush chicken bearing a mini-t-shirt that said “Feet First” and a plastic egg.  Also enclosed in the little box was a personal letter from my favorite nonprofit organization in Seattle.  They were thanking me for my support, which was nice because I am a monthly donor.  Normally, I don’t really go for gifts in return for my donations—I want the money going to programs—but this chicken was different from the usual ho-hum calendars and ugly address labels.  It turned me into a spokesperson for Feet First, yet AGAIN.  I know I’ve blogged about them a lot, but darn it, they just keep earning the attention.  Amid a mailbox crammed with bills, catalogs and boring appeals from nonprofits, I got a chicken.  And even with dinner burning and the kids fighting and the phone ringing, I noticed.  And now I’m telling you about it.  Those two events are definitely worth the cost of a little stuffed animal and a plastic egg, from Feet First’s marketing perspective.  Turning a “walkable communities” program into a story about a chicken crossing the road, and sending out chickens, is sticky: it is unforgettable, and it leads to donor evangelism. 

I tell this story because it’s Sticky Week here at my blog, in honor of the wonderful book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.


Today’s concept is the importance of the unexpected in making your message stick in people’s minds - and hearts, and wallets.

Authors Chip Heath & Dan Heath offer this advice to making your ideas stickier for your audience:

-Find your core (I blogged on this yesterday)
-Figure out what is COUNTERINTUITIVE about your message
-Communicate in a way that breaks your audience’s “guessing machines” by being counterintuitive

Feet First broke my guessing machine.  Sending me a chicken instead of a wrist band or annual report is counterintuitive. 

Extraordinary customer service breaks the guessing machine.  (And by this I don’t mean saying you “value someone’s business” while they are on hold for 30 minutes, I mean what the book says - like Nordstrom cheerfully gift wrapping a product bought at Macy’s or refunding money for tire chains - which they don’t sell.)  A nonprofit that actually asks people how often they want solicitations and what kind of news they want about their donations is extraordinary. 

The best stories break the guessing machine.  Like pulling people out of their tombs to dance with them.  Like buying a refrigerator repair kit for a woman in Samoa

How can you be unexpected today—in a good way?  How can you take that tired old success story and rev it up with something surprising?  Try to amaze, not daze, your supporters by breaking their guessing machines.  They are tired of knowing your next move.



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