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Use 'Twinkie Diet' Example to Make Your Marketing Messages Stick

Nov 10, 2010 / by Dan Bischoff

Did you hear about the professor who lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies? It’s a prime example of how to create your own message that will resonate with the public, and how to better leverage your search marketing campaigns.

Here’s the basic rundown if you haven’t seen it:
Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State, lost 27 pounds and lowered his cholesterol by eating Twinkies and other junk food.

In just a couple days after this story broke out, it hit almost every big publication. Do a search right now on just “Twinkie” and you’ll find first page results on the guy losing weight.

A search for "Twinkie diet" gets 131,000 results. Search for “Mark Haub” and his Twinkie binge is all over the search engines. And the story is going viral all over Facebook and Twitter, too.

So what is it about this story that makes it resonate and stick with audiences everywhere? And how can we similarly create stories about our companies that can have similar effect? I’m sure this is big for Hostess and its Twinkies.

If you’ve read the book “Made to Stick” you’ll understand where I’m going. The Twinkie story fits each of the six ingredients that make an idea resonate. The acronym is SUCCES:

Simplicity

The message is very simple: You can lose weight by eating Twinkies. This is the core of the idea. Each marketing message should similarly communicate the basic idea so it’s easily understood.

Unexpected

The results of the Twinkie diet are extremely unexpected. Losing weight and lowering cholesterol by eating Twinkies? Nobody would believe that. This is probably the biggest reason this story has quickly reached a huge audience.

Concrete

This is about understanding, remembering and applying. If a CEO were to write the Twinkie story, he may have written it like: “Hostess Twinkies cultivated distributed portals and synergized integrated, turn-key schemas, and as a result, an industry-leading professor hit a benchmark of his mission-critical success and at the convergence lost 27 pounds.”

Instead, the story is: Professor loses 27 pounds by eating Twinkies. It’s more concrete and understandable. Strip down the corporate speak and leave a concrete message.

Credible

When talking about eating and losing weight, what’s more credible than a professor of human nutrition? What if it was a student instead? It would probably still be a sticky message, but not near as successful as a nutrition professor.

Emotional

Losing weight and improving health is near and dear to almost every one of us. And everyone would love to eat junk food if it wasn’t as bad for us. This story combines these things magically. Finally, I can eat Twinkies and be healthy! While that’s really not what the good professor recommends in the story, that’s the emotional tug that keeps us interested.

Stories

Stories by themselves are concrete and have emotional and unexpected elements. This is a story about an educated man losing weight in a surprising way. If it was just about the numbers of how you can lose weight by eating Twinkies and avoiding going over a certain calorie limit, then it wouldn’t have near the effect of telling a story about an individual doing it.

SEO, PPC, social media and all that stuff gets a customer to the door. But what really makes it all work is having a good foundation behind the marketing – a story or message that sticks. So, remember the Twinkie Diet when you're creating your next marketing message.

Topics: Blog

Dan Bischoff

Written by Dan Bischoff

Dan is the former VP of Public Relations at PRMarketing.com. He has worked as a sports writer, a business editor, and an outdoor recreation editor in various media outlets -- including the Associated Press, The Salem Statesman Journal, the Deseret News and the Park Record. Dan received a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Utah.

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