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The Book Doctor | How to Sell an Idea

SUCCESs — an acronym from Chip & Dan Heath's book Made to Stick will help you make your good ideas sticky enough to sell.
by Caitlin Schiller | Jul 15 2016
18th July 2016

Dear Book Doctor,

What is the best way to sell an idea” Scott R.

Dear Scott,

Ah yes. You have a query that’s common among certain groups around this time of year, the Western Hemisphere summer, when it’s easy to allow great ideas to stagnate in a shallow pool of margaritas and summer vacations. Good on you for getting moving—and your question is the right one! A great place to begin is by gathering momentum through sharing your idea with others. But doing that well takes knowing how to sell it! Happily, there’s a pretty straightforward prescription that even someone in the midst of the summer “blahs” can follow to get back on track. Your prescription is Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath.

Chip and Dan Heath are well known for their ideas on, well, ideas. Our main virality guy, Jonah Berger, studied under Chip Heath, who is a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford. Jonah cites Made to Stick as his favorite book on this early episode of the Blinkist podcast, if you want to go have a listen after you read your prescription.

But back to Made to Stick: The basic idea is that to sell an idea, you have to make the idea “sticky.” An idea is sticky when it’s memorable and people want to pass it on. A classic “sticky” idea? Urban myths, like the one about unknown villains who sneak razor blades into Halloween candy.

Here’s a breakdown of SUCCESs—the six elements of a sticky idea:


Like Southwest Airlines’ slogan “THE Low Fare Airline,” or a really good newspaper headline.


It must shake people out of autopilot.


Your mum told you about that Halloween candy, so obviously you believe the story’s credibility, right?

Concrete & Descriptive

Jargon-free; don’t say the retail representative delivered outstanding customer service, say “She gave a customer a refund even though he bought the shirt at another branch.”


Consider this anti-smoking campaign. Right?


Classic molds, like the David & Goliath story, or a story of the Good Samaritan will do it.

SUCCESs is a remedy that Blinkist’s content team has tried and tested—in fact, SUCCESs guides almost every piece of content that we publish in the app. All this is to say that I feel pretty strongly about this recommendation.

You can read the blinks, to Made to Stick here, Scott, or just go grab the book. You’ll be on your way to selling your great idea in no time!

The Book Doctor

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