Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Over the past week, the name Susan Boyle has been pegged at the top of the Trending Topics on Twitter. You can always tell when there's an item related to pop culture, current events or breaking news, because it rises to the top of Twitter's barometer of culture on http://search.twitter.com.

In this case, the name belonged to a woman who has ascended to the 15 minute throne because of a television show (in this case Britain's Got Talent), the immediacy of YouTube and an amazing talent. Rather than try to describe what's been happening, I'll let you see for yourself. Since embedding is disabled for this video you'll have to click through to see it.

When you come back, we'll talk about another equally as remarkable video.

Just about two years ago, a car phone salesman by the name of Paul Potts had a very similar story unfold on the same show. You can see that video by clicking here. I wrote about it in two posts: "Your Next Creative Genius May be Closer Than You Think" and "What I Learned From Paul Potts."

In both situations, we see something happen with the audience (and perhaps with ourselves) that seems to universally apply to human nature: there's initial skepticism, followed by awe. But ultimately, we want the underdog to win. Why? Perhaps because we can relate to a "regular" person and we like the idea of overcoming odds to be successful.

The lessons that I wrote up in the Paul Potts post also apply to Susan Boyle's situation:

  1. Assumptions can limit your creative output
  2. It's okay to take risks
  3. Know your audience and connect with them on an emotional level
  4. Exceed expectations
  5. When we're constantly hit over the head with polished, branded, uber-cool ads, campaigns and come-ons, it's refreshing to see a down-to-earth, humble approach. It gets more attention.

But here's another thing that's going on. It's been just two years since Paul Potts made his first appearance, but the Susan Boyle phenomenon is being treated like an anomaly. How quickly we forget - the social media pundits and even the the show's judges seem to have forgotten Paul. The reality is we're overrun with the latest headlines, shockers, tragedies, personal issues and more, and things like this will always come and go. I still remember Paul, but mostly because I wrote about him before. I wonder how many others forgot?

Turning this to practical business advice (I wouldn't let you down!), do you think your company's product or service is that memorable? If a Paul Potts with 44 million views on YouTube doesn't even come to mind for the public and even the judges involved, what can you do that's going to stick with people?

Giving them a predictable, repeatable experience each time they use your product is one way - I'd say it's the price of entry. No amount of viral videos, marketing gimmicks or slick mailers are going to matter if you've got a shoddy product. But beyond what's expected, how are you exceeding expecatations, creating the "wow" factor, and still being on a level that they can identify with.

And that's the challenge, isn't it? Britain's got talent, but have you? If you don't, then go out and hire or partner with someone who does.

Maybe a Susan Boyle or a Paul Potts can help you.