Chapter three of “Made to Stick” talks about taking ideas and finding out what they’re really about. Concrete ideas are easy to understand and even easier to remember. Every idea has a core message it is trying to communicate. Unfortunately, that core message is often times wrapped up in abstractions, such as jargon or hard to understand concepts, that make the core message confusing.
When he was running for his first term as the president of the United States, Bill Clinton could have talked for hours on his policy reforms on health care, foreign policy, or the economy. However, most of these involved discussing ideas that are abstract and have very little meaning. Instead, he had three short and concrete messages he made sure to re-iterate in most of his appearances: “Change versus more of the same,” “It’s the economy, stupid,” and “Don’t forget health care.” (These three ideas were created by Clinton’s campaign manager, James Carville.)
Even though Clinton had three concrete ideas, only one of them stuck. Most people remember “It’s the economy, stupid” more than they remember the other two. Despite having three concrete ideas, the public also had a say in what they thought stuck best. Sometimes, it’s impossible to guess what the public thinks will work and what they don’t think will work.