Do you want to give better pitches, create better marketing campaigns, and better articulate your ideas to investors, customers and supporters? The answer to achieving all of this is simple. You need to make your idea stick.

To legitimize your idea (and venture), you must be able to communicate it. You must make your idea stick.  Tweet This Quote

After pouring hours, weeks, months and years into an idea, it is easy to feel as though everyone should understand exactly why this ideal is capable of solving the challenges facing the world today because it is difficult to assume the mindset of someone who is not equally invested in the idea. Do not allow this curse of knowledge to impede your idea’s potential. In order to fully realize and legitimize your idea (and venture), you must be able to communicate it. Better said, you must make your idea stick. How do you get your message to really stick with people? How do you design your message in a way that will be memorable and will change the way people think? Chip Heath has designed the framework below to answer these questions. By implementing it into the messaging of your idea, he posits that you will give better pitches, create better marketing campaigns, and articulate ideas that stick with investors, customers, and supporters. Keep your messaging…


If you say 10 things, you say nothing. Don’t bury the lead, and focus on emphasizing the most important thing your listener needs to know before diving into other details. Consider this: Malala Fund site visitors are instantly captivated by the organization’s motto, “We must #BringBackOurGirls to create change.” One must dig deeper into the site to learn the fund’s means of achieving the mission is to provide formal education to the 600 million adolescent girls in the developing world who are denied it because of social, economic, legal and political factors. Immediately though, the hashtag is all that one needs to know, simple.


To get someone’s attention, you must break the pattern. Consider this: Judah Folkman, a medical scientist best known for his research on tumor angiogenesis, broke the schema of cancer and drew attention to his research by changing the conversation around the illness all together. During his pitch he questioned, “Why should I only know you have cancer when you develop a big tumor? Why should you walk into a doctor’s office with a tumor? I want to treat cancer years before it appears.”


Make your ideas concrete, whether in a pitch, on your website, or when launching a marketing campaign. Take away the abstraction and jargon and use words that are easily defined and relatable. Paint a picture for your listener. Consider this: When CFL Lightbulbs first hit the market, consumers weren’t buying the more environmentally-friendly light bulbs because of their higher sticker price, even though they’re cheaper in the long run due to savings on electricity costs. Lightbulb producers changed the message from “Use 25 percent less electricity” to “It’s seven years between changes.” This was more effective, but even more effective is this: “You’ll change this light bulb when your child is learning to walk, going to 2nd grade, and taking driver’s education.” Now that is concrete!

Take away the abstraction and jargon. Use words that are easily defined and relatable.  Tweet This Quote

Establish credibility

It is no secret that people are more likely to believe people who they respect. Credibility is enhanced by giving people concrete details that help them picture the idea being discussed. Consider this: Why do startups note when they’ve been featured on media outlets like Forbes or the New York Times? These companies have garnered trust from national and international audiences, and many consider the insights written by these media resources highly credible.


If your message is simple and concrete, the audience likely understands it. In order to gain their full support you must make the feel it though. Appealing to the sympathies and imagination of people is key to doing this. Consider this: Boys and Girls Club mission to create “magic” and “memories” is more compelling if it is discussed in terms of working toward “thousands of boys throwing a baseball and treating girls with respect.” This message reaches your heart before making its way to your mind.

Tell a story

Directly following a talk, 5 percent of people can remember a statistic; 65 percent people can remember a story. Bottom line: The story is what matters. Consider this: Steve Denning, founder of Smithsonian Storytelling Weekend, ignited excitement about World Bank’s “knowledge management” program by sharing the story of a Zambian healthcare worker logging onto the Center for Disease Control website in Atlanta and discovered how to treat Malaria. This was before the internet was wide-spread, so this story spring boarded the power of the internet into people’s minds.

Unreasonable Institute Mentor Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Along with his brother, Dan, he is a co-author of three New York Times Best-selling books: Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive. He is also a consultant working with clients ranging from Google and Gap to the Nature Conservancy and the American Heart Association.

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The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.

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