Make It Sticky

“If they can’t repeat it, they didn’t get it.”

— Sam Horn

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When I say to make sure your message is sticky, you’re probably scratching your head. How can messaging be sticky?

Have you ever stepped in gum? We’ve all been there. You’re walking and all of a sudden there’s a slight drag on your shoe. Not enough to stop you in your tracks but definitely enough to notice. And if you continue walking you’ll sense the traction of this gum sticking on your shoe. This example is exactly what I mean when I say that you need to craft a sticky message.

Why does stickiness matter? Two reasons:

  • You want your message to remain top of mind. Something needs to trigger in the brain to keep your information front and center.
  • Since it will take multiple times of seeing your messaging for people to take action, you want people to remember this initial messaging so making the connection with future messaging will likely be quicker.

Most times, people will need exposure to your content 6-7 times for them to move from awareness to take action. And you’ll want to make sure they can see the connection with each new view.

Brands understand the importance of saying the same thing over and over. You may feel like it’s redundant and boring. But your audience doesn’t. They need the repetition. Check out this list of repeated phrases that Jeffry Pilcher pulled together. I’m willing to bet you’ll agree that well over half of these are ‘sticky.’

Got milk? (used for 21 years, starting in 1993)

Just do it. (used for over 26 years, starting in 1988)

What happens here, stays here. (used for 10 over years, starting in 2004)

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

Tastes great, less filling. (used since the 1970s)

Where’s the beef?

Good to the last drop. (used for over 97 years, starting in 1917)

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (used for over 60 years, since 1954)

Breakfast of Champions. (used for over 87 years, starting in 1927)

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. (used for over 43 years, starting in 1971)

The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, fever so you can get rest medicine.

Head On. Apply directly to the forehead.

Don’t Leave Home Without It.

15 minutes could save 15% or more on car insurance.

Creating sticky messaging isn’t an elusive task. There are concrete devices that you can use to make sure your messaging remains with your users. Here are three techniques you can use to get started:

  • Repetition
  • Alliteration
  • Rhyming

Often there’s a bonus to rhyming: cadence. Cadence is derived from a Latin word “cadentia” that means “a falling.” Linguists refer to this as the prosodic pattern. Check out this example from a recent political activist’s sign:

Can’t build a wall. Hands too small.

Know what this sign is referencing? Know who it is referencing. I bet so. And what a catchy phrase that is the epitome of a sticky message.

Again, your goal is to make sure your messaging sticks to your reader as part of the process of moving them to responding to your call to action. I encourage you to try several of these techniques. Find what works for you and your message. Get out of your comfort zone a bit, have some fun, and craft a message that will last.

You now have plenty of creative ways to make your messaging sticky. Which leads us to one final question: How do you determine which words to select? Which words should you repeat? Or use some form of rhyming?

Although there are numerous ways to approach this question, perhaps the simplest way is to ask yourself

  • Which words are most important?
  • Which words help to emphasize your main point?
  • Which words help to make an emotional connection?
  • Which words connect with an already known/experienced fact?

Make sure you share with me your tips and successes on making your messaging sticky!

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