made to stickDistinguishing your IT services is easy, but getting your prospects to remember you isn’t.  Having a good idea isn’t enough. You need to make sure it’s memorable. What makes a concept stick?

Check out these tips from the book to help make sure your ideas are both understood and remembered.

Making your ideas “sticky”

In the book, Chip and Dan Heath say that there are only six principles to making your ideas “sticky.”  The easiest way to remember these principles is to think of SUCCES: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories.  Utilizing all six will help make your MSP marketing unforgettable.


Keeping things simple is one of the most important ways to make your marketing unforgettable, but you shouldn’t dumb things down.  Instead make sure to express the core idea, and keep your concept simple and crisp.

Prioritizing your main objective is the best way to do this.  For example, if your MSP strategy is to offer outstanding customer service, this is your core idea, and every decision you make in your business should revolve around making your customers’ lives easier. This will help you fuel blog posts to offer insight on how they can accelerate their business, or perhaps it will encourage you to offer around-the-clock phone support.

Your core idea should also streamline your business plan and simplify decision making. Before making a decision, such as adding a new product or service, ask yourself if the decision supports your core idea. Keeping the core idea simple will enable you to have the tunnel vision you need to propel your business by staying focused.


According to Chip and Dan Heath, to be unexpected you need to change perceptions and create curiosity. Surprise gets customers’ attention, and interest holds their attention. To create a successful idea, you need to do both.

Being unexpected is difficult because you have to break your audience’s preconceived ideas. In your MSP business, you can easily mix the unexpected into how you educate SMBs. For example, many SMBs may be unaware of how rampant phishing attacks are becoming, so you might want to create an email campaign to demonstrate how important security is. An email with the subject line “Data breach epidemic: Could you be next?” will spark a reaction,  and in the email you can give your customer valuable information about how to avoid becoming the victim of a phishing scam.{{cta(‘be56c5a0-3d1a-4b71-aac2-dcbd913988a1′,’justifycenter’)}}


Concrete ideas create common ground between individuals. Instead of presenting an abstract idea, Chip and Dan recommend using something that is easily relatable. Out of all the principles the book suggests, this is the easiest one to incorporate.

To use concrete ideas effectively, you need to view your audience as beginners. If you simply say, “Phishing attacks can really harm an SMB,” your customers might not understand what a phishing attack is or how it can infiltrate their system. Using a concrete example, such as the company that lost more than $40 million because an employee was tricked by a fraudulent email, will make your concept more tangible and easier to comprehend.


Statistics can help your customers understand the importance of what you’re trying to tell them, but making sure the source of your information is credible is vital to your reputation. When people are skeptical about what you’re saying, you need to be able to back up your idea with factual information.

According to the book, you should stay away from Wikipedia and use more credible sources such as newspapers, periodicals, or industry journals to give your customers the best information. For example, this statistic we found on comes from Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Report and shows why it’s important to educate your customers about phishing: 30 percent of users open a phishing email, and 11 percent follow the links to fill out a form. This is a powerful statistic, and it can have even more impact because it’s from a credible source.


In their book, Dan and Chip Heath explain that if you want to get someone to take action you want to get them to think emotionally, not analytically. Getting people to care can be difficult, but when you evoke emotion, they’re more likely to respond.

In the case of your MSP, if you want people to care about backup and disaster recovery, you need to give them a reason. Showing how data loss has harmed other businesses can give them the jump start they need to put BDR plans in place to reduce the likelihood of something similar happening to them.


Stories are important to generating action. They usually include a moral and can produce an emotional response. When integrated with the other five principles from the book, stories help your point become memorable, give your idea meaning, and can help your customers make better decisions. Telling the right story will communicate a simple idea in an unexpected way using credible details and concrete examples to illicit an emotional response. This principle pulls all the others together.

Utilizing these principles from Made to Stick will help your MSP be more effective in your marketing efforts and create a more focused business plan.

Made to Stick

Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

291 pages. Random House. $15.16

Have suggestions about what we should read next? Leave a comment and let us know what we should add to our  MSP bookshelf.


Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *