Sunday, June 17, 2007

Made to Stick - Unexpected

2 questions: How do I get people's attention? How do I keep people's attention?

Make your message unexpected.

Surprise gets our attention. Interest keeps our attention.

We're hard-wired so that surprise jolts us to attention. Our mental models have failed to predict what just happened. Surprise can make us think: Why was I surprised? What's the underlying cause? What are some other possibilities? How do I avoid surprises in the future? Surprises make us want to find the answer, to resolve the question of why were were surprised.

Some caveats--the surprise can't be a gimmick. It has to reinforce our core message, otherwise it just turns people off.
Second point: if it's just a perplexing surprise, it might end up just being frustrating to the consumer. It's got to be a surprise where the consumer gets some insight. "To be surprising, an event can't be predictable. Surprise is the opposite of predictability. But, to be satisfying, the surprise must be 'post-dictable.' The twist makes sense after you think about it, but it's not something you would have seen coming."
If you want your ideas to be stickier, break people's mental models in an unexpected way, but allow them to fix it so that it makes sense afterwards. Easiest way to do that is to have your surprise be in the service of your core message.
Here's a suggested process from the book:
1. Determine what your core message is.
2. Figure out what's counterintuitive--what are the unexpected implications of your core message? Why isn't it already happening naturally?
3. Communicate your message in a way that breaks the audience's "guessing machine" along the critical, counterintuitive dimension.

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