Archive for February, 2010

Why successful ideas are sticky

Why do some ideas seem to circulate effortlessly while others are forgotten as soon as they are created? How can your organization improve its chances of creating an idea that will “stick?”

Authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath offer readers a simple formula for creating successful ideas: a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story (SUCCESs). The authors argue that creating sticky ideas is something that can be learned, regardless of how “naturally creative” you are.

By using the six traits of sticky ideas outlined in this book, Made to Stick, almost any idea can be made stickier—and a sticky idea is one that is more likely to make a difference.

Here are three ways you can make an idea sticky:

Simplicity: Being simple means more than saying something short. Instead, the goal is to create something both simple and profound, similar to a proverb. Simplicity means finding the essential core of your idea; it means excluding all other information and relentlessly prioritizing.

Unexpectedness: Using surprise is one way to get people to pay attention to your idea, but surprise doesn’t last. In order for your idea to last in the long run, you must create both interest and curiosity. And you engage people’s curiosity over the long haul by “opening gaps” in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.

Concreteness: Sticky ideas are full of concrete images. Making your ideas concrete means explaining them in terms of human actions or through sensory information. Mission statements are usually so ambiguous that they are meaningless. Using concrete language ensures that your idea will mean the same thing to everyone in your audience.

Read the rest of the six traits and more about Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by subscribing to Page to Practice™ book summaries. Or, purchase this summary by visiting the CausePlanet summary store. Learn more about the Heath brothers and their books at

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Tackle resistant problems with personal experience

Most nonprofit executives are familiar with those persistent and pesky problems within their organizations that never seem to go away. Despite your best efforts to deal with the problem or the people involved, when the problem doesn’t go away, most people give up trying to make change happen because they believe it’s too difficult, if not impossible.

The most common tool we use to change others’ behavior is the use of verbal persuasion – but when it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works. Instead, personal experience is much more effective. Try to help people experience the world as you experience it. When you can’t create personal experiences, create vicarious experiences. This is one of the most accessible influence tools any influencer can employ.

Become a storyteller

According to the bestselling authors of Influencer, to exert influence, we need to be good storytellers. We can use words to persuade others to change their minds by telling a story rather than lecturing them. The following characteristics of storytelling make some stories more powerful tools of influence than others:

Understanding. Every time you try to convince others through verbal persuasion, you struggle to select and share language in a way that reproduces exactly the same thoughts you are having in the mind of the listener. You say your words, but others hear their words, which in turn stimulates their images, their past histories and their overall meaning. A well-told narrative provides concrete and vivid detail rather than terse summaries and unclear conclusions.

Believing. People oftentimes become less willing to believe what you have to say when they know that your goal is to convince them of something. This natural resistance stems from a lack of trust. First, people may lack confidence in your expertise and, second, they may doubt your motive. Concrete and vivid stories are influential because they transport people out of the role of critic and into the role of participant.

Motivating. People must actually care about what they believe if their belief is going to get them to change their behavior. If emotions don’t kick in, people don’t act. When they’re told well, stories stimulate genuine emotions.

Read more about Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by subscribing to Page to Practice™ book summaries or visit the CausePlanet summary store. Learn more about Influencer by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzer.

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“Up and Out of Poverty” has implications for Haiti

Our February Page to Practice book summary of Up and Out of Poverty presents a timely look at social marketing and a methodology for creating social change. While the poverty issue serves as a case study throughout the book, it is clear that Kotler and Lee’s thoughtful and concise 10-step social marketing plan applies to a multitude of organizations tackling the greater good. Here’s an excerpt from CausePlanet’s February Page to Practice book summary and Q&As as well as Nancy Lee’s link for creating your own social marketing worksheet.

CausePlanet: In light of the recent earthquake in Haiti, are there any strategies that relief organizations can adopt from your book that would help them be the most effective and efficient they can be?

Kotler and Lee: Haiti represents an emergency situation rather than a settled situation involving poor people and poor communities. Social marketing is most appropriate in the later case. In emergency situations, everything must be done to save lives by supplying food, water and housing. Social marketing’s role in this situation would be to discourage persons from engaging in behaviors that will cause or spread disease or lead to unsafe outcomes.

Key to success will be following fundamental steps in the social marketing model, especially: segmenting the market and prioritizing target audiences; determining a few single, simple, doable behaviors that would help; and then understanding and addressing barriers to these behaviors.

CausePlanet: What are the first steps our readers should take after reading your book?

Kotler and Lee: Download our social marketing planning worksheets on one of two Web sites: or Use these to develop a social marketing plan focused on influencing a target audience to adopt a desired behavior (ideally a single, simple, doable one to start).

CausePlanet: Is there anything else you feel our readers should take away from your book?

Kotler and Lee: Our hope is that readers experience that the real magic of marketing is (simply) a customer-oriented approach. We spend time defining and understanding what barriers our target audience has to performing desired behaviors, and we develop programs that reduce these barriers and increase personal benefits.

Read more about Up and Out of Poverty, our Page to Practice™ book summary library, or single summary titles at the CausePlanet summary store.

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Eight lessons for working with female prospects or donors

Women control 51 percent of the wealth in America according to a recent article in the New York Times.  Additionally, the percentage of women earning bachelors and master’s degrees is up to 56 percent. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that women now surpass men in business ownership.  So why do we still pitch the women like they’re men when it comes to philanthropy?

I was delighted to see an article titled Eight lessons for working with female prospects or donors and remind myself of some of the gems I should know about my own gender!  Two of the lessons struck a chord with me as to why we women are a little more involved when it comes to giving.

One: Women often work collaboratively and seek the opinions of others. Be sure to include and respect the opinions of those in your donor’s close network.

Two: A major gift is not just a transaction for women. It is an experience that requires time for reflection.

Both of these lessons tell the ED or the DOD in any organization that engaging women philanthropists is going to involve a more robust cultivation process. However, some of the most accomplished fundraising programs I’ve had the privilege of being part of embraced the female perspective and are wildly successful because they facilitated an environment where women could learn, reflect and give…in the company of other women.

Kim Klein, author of Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times further makes the profound point by efficiently saying, “Good fundraising focuses on the donor, not the donation.”  Perhaps the reason why some make the mistake of only asking men for a donation or treating women like men when they do ask is because they’re operating on an antiquated fundraising model.  I bet the ad execs at Nike don’t run print ads for men’s shoes in Oprah magazine.  Let’s get on board and think about the donor.  She would really appreciate it.

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