Monday, October 8, 2007

Making It Sticky--Simple and Unexpected

Our team has been reading the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It's a great resource! We've been using it to look at how we can market our ministry to the church in a way that really reaches people. This week I posed the question of what can we be doing to genuinely reach people? How can we help them see, experience and understand our mission? What can we do to make Children's Ministries at Morning Star really stick? How do we communicate the core (mission)of our ministry?

The Heath brothers' give a wonderful acronym for sticky ideas, SUCCESs.

Since we're only through the first two chapters of the book, our focus was on simple and unexpected. Parents in our ministry (as I'm sure in all Children's Ministries) are bombarded with paperwork each week from school newsletters to advertisements in the mail box. How can we make it so that what we send home doesn't get classified as another piece of paper? We need to keep it simple and to the point. "Compact ideas help people learn and remember a core message" (Made to Stick pg 48).

I love to talk, write, read--anything dealing with words. I wish I could write a long, newsy note to parents each week and have it actually be effective! So while the temptation for me would be to give every parent the long version of what our ministry stands for, it wouldn't stick with them. It needs to stay simple. In the same way a catchy, repetitive song sticks in your head, a simple message will carry with a parent despite a paper overload in all other areas of their life.

"The first problem of communication is getting people's attention" (pg. 64). It doesn't matter how wonderful my simple message is unless I communicate it in a way that catches someone's eye. The unexpected message doesn't blend in. Whether it's a flier of a different shape, a video instead of a spoken announcement, or a child wearing a sandwich board instead of a sign on the wall, it stands out. A sticky idea not only gets attention, it holds attention; it's valuable. The Heath brothers explain that surprise gets attention and interest keeps attention.

My message to families needs to be worth their time. My unexpected message gets me a listening ear (or a watchful eye). My simple message gets them to pay attention to the point of understanding. Say I want a family to attend an upcoming event. In our world of electronic communication, a hand written note is unexpected. And not only that, a personalized note is endearing. Keeping it short and to the point not only saves me from a lot of writer's cramp, it leaves my main message in their minds.

I'm looking forward to next week as we look at the concrete side of sticky ideas and making sure people get what I'm talking about. I hope to see a transformation in the way our communication sticks to those in the church. This book is sticking with me :) What sticks with you?

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