You’ve got a lot to celebrate this week! May the Fourth be With You (Star Wars Day, followed shortly by Revenge of the Sixth) and Cinco de Mayo(interestingly, more popular in the US than Mexico).


While I will leave the merits of celebrating – and how – to the individual reader, I am particularly interested in how the respective holidays have gotten popular. I think it has less to do with what they celebrate and more to do with how they are marketed. And marketing starts with the name.


These two holidays are both great examples of “sticky” communication. Sticky communication stays with your listener after you are done speaking and is the true measure of success in communication. Can (and does) your audience repeat what you said when you are not around? You can’t necessarily make them do what you want, but you can dictate whether they remember your message or not.


Here are three tips to help a message get remembered and repeated.



1. Make it rhythmic, catchy, and short –
How popular do you think a holiday called “Vigésima séptima de noviembre” would be? Years ago I compiled a list of marketing slogans for a speech I was working on. I typed them all out on a page and used them as a quiz. While I was looking at the page, something jumped out at me: almost all of the slogans (59 of 64) were short and had short words (only one or two syllables). One of the exceptions was, “Breakfast of Champions.” I guess you probably still know the company (Wheaties). Bonus points if your message falls into a triplet. I’m a big fan of threes.
2. Link to something that is already familiar –
If there is already something stuck in your audience’s minds (like Star Wars), then making a connection to that helps make your message sticky. Whether it’s drawing an analogy (we’re the Wheaties of the XYZ market), making a play on words (May the Fourth), or building off a prior message (if we were the next Star Wars hit, we’d be called…), the brain doesn’t have to work as hard if it’s connecting to something it already has memorized.
On a pitch for an education grant, a team I worked with played off the 3Rs: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic (ever wonder why only one of the three Rs actually begins with R? No wonder students can’t spell!). They came up with their own words starting with R to highlight memorable aspects of their bid. When they finished the presentation, one of the panel reviewers repeated their three Rs back to them. Success!
3. Get others to share your (short) message –
Here’s the holy grail of marketing. Instead of paying for clicks and impressions, get your fans to do it for you for free. Easier said than done, I know. But one thing we can learn from the Tik Tok generation is that short viral content can go farther on the clicks of others than you can ever push yourself. Ask yourself, what would someone say about my message or my organization? Find out what you want that message to be, and craft ways for them to repeat it. The old adage used to be, “Make it easy to do business with you.” Now perhaps it’s, “Make it easy to share you.”


Just crafting a message or initiative for others to consume is no guarantee of success. Plenty of great ideas died because not enough people got on board. Whether you’re selling speaker services, widgets, or trying to get people to celebrate for a good cause, a repeatable message is a communicator’s goal.
Oh, and you missed National Chocolate Custard Day and National Two Different Colored Shoes Day, both on May 3rd. But a big day is coming on the 6th (literally): National No-Diet Day (and also No-Pants Day!?).

Communication matters. What are you saying?


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This article was published in the May edition of our monthly speaking tips email newsletter, Communication Matters. Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today to receive our newsletter and receive our FREE eBook, “Twelve Tips that will Save You from Making a Bad Presentation.”  You can unsubscribe at any time.

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