‘Stunned Devorise Dixon said he was tucking into a box meal in Wilmington, California, when he spotted a ‘tail’ on what he first thought was a strangely-shaped breaded chicken breast.
“I took a bite of the nugget and noticed it was very hard and rubbery. As I looked down on it, I noticed it was in the shape of a rat with a tail. It sent deep chills throughout my whole body! I’ve been feeling weird ever since.”‘
Oh yes – we’ve all heard the story of the Kentucky Fried Rat. The quote above was in several national newspapers when the story last ran two years ago, but it’s been circulating a lot longer than that.
It was a hoax, of course – the ‘rat’ was just chicken, after all. But it keeps resurfacing, along with several other urban myths and old wives’ tales, like you only use ten percent of your brain, and that you should butter a cat’s paws to calm it. I read that last one in a Topsy and Tim book when I was a kid, and believed it for years.
Why do some ideas capture peoples’ imagination and keep being told and retold? That’s what I’m learning about in this week’s read, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
How many forgettable adverts, headlines and emails have you read? You probably can’t remember, and that’s exactly my point.
That’s definitely something you want to avoid in your marketing. You need ideas that are easily understood, remembered and passed on by your audience, so here are six guiding principles to help you do that:
- Simplicity – strip an idea down to its core. That means refining and prioritising it, rather than dumbing it down.
- Unexpectedness – counter-intuitive things generate curiosity and interest, so we naturally want to know more.
- Concreteness – explain ideas in terms of concrete, sensory images (a cat licking butter off its paws, a chicken nugget shaped like a rat). Our brains are wired to remember concrete data, and speaking in this way means the idea will mean the same thing to everyone.
- Credibility – allow people to test ideas for themselves. Does your cat seem calmer once he’s licked butter off his paws?
- Emotions – make someone feel suspicious, sentimental or disgusted and they’ll be far more likely to remember your idea.
- Use stories. We’re wired for stories – they make something memorable and easy to pass on. I often use them in my emails, because stories are also fun to tell.
It’s true that some people are naturally more creative than others, but following that checklist will help make your marketing stick in your readers’ heads that little bit longer.
P.S. You might not have time to do this all for yourself, and that’s fine. Read my free report on how to find the right copywriter for the job.