Thursday, April 23, 2009

susan boyle and kaytee suet

unless you've been hiding under a giant rock for the last several days, you know about susan boyle and the close to 50 million downloads of the youtube video showcasing her performance on "Britain's Got Talent." she's been on larry king, she's been the subject of articles in the world's major newspapers, and certainly gotten her 15 minutes and more in the blogosphere, with more than 2700 posts a day last week.

most of the coverage that attempts to explain why the world is so taken with susan, i think, misses the mark. many of these stories flail into armchair psychoanalysis, such as peter bregman's: "Who among us does not move through life with the hidden sense, maybe even quiet desperation, that we are destined for more? That underneath our ordinary exterior lies an extraordinary soul? That given the right opportunity, the right stage, the right audience, we would shine as the stars we truly are?" or even the more straight-up commentaries about how an angelic voice emanating from a sort of frumpy exterior has unexpectedly provoked a debate about prejudice against the not so young and not so beautiful.

but i think the reason that we're captivated is much simpler, and it's actually the same reason that i am at this moment, in an equally odd turn of events, thrilled with Kaytee suet.

those of you who try to attract wild birds to your feeders know what i'm talking about. birds are notoriously fickle. you can put food out in the middle of winter when there's nothing else to eat, and if they don't like it, they won't eat it. (this concept is totally lost, by the way, on willy & hoover, who never met a foodstuff -- or even non-footstuffs -- they didn't like). anyway, we'd tried the gamut of designer-brand suets, some with cherries, or orange pieces, or nuts, or i don't know what else. they might as well have been laced with gold, and we'd sometimes spend upward of $6 or $8 on the stuff, only to have to dig it out of the stupid little box to try something else. so one day, out of spite, almost, we bought the kaytee product, which was about $1-something and -- thinking about susan here -- didn't really look the part, if you know what i mean.

but remarkably, the kaytee worked! along came the cardinals, bluejays, finches and the little blue buntings in droves, and they couldn't get enough of the stuff. i could not have been more ... and here's the point of this post ... more surprised and delighted. if you watch the entire clip of susan's performance, somewhere in the first minute or so, they cut to backstage where the field producers are, and one of them says to the camera, "you weren't expecting that, were you... no!," which is i think really what's driving the emotion around this.

the surprise comes from, i suppose, what some people see as the incongruity between her visage and her voice. i got over this a long time ago, however, when i first got a look at the album covers for rush, steely dan and some other incredible musicians who were not similarly gifted in looks. but then again, isn't this why even the cheapest concert tickets sometimes sell out? presumably, some people are there for the music, as well as (or even maybe for more than) the spectacle.

anyway, surprise and delight are absolutely key to customer engagement, retention and advocacy. good advertising and pr may get a horse to your bucket, but it won't keep him drinking, much less telling other horses about it. when we run into surprise and delight, 2 things happen: 1) we build an automatic positive relationship with the product/brand at that moment (not to say it can't be undone later, but that's for a different post); and 2) we are generally motivated to tell others about it, often in a highly proactive way. whether you're talking about susan or suet, the results are the same ... we need more of it, and quickly!

1 comment:

KAYTEE said...

Great blog post! KAYTEEproducts will be tweeting it tomorrow morning! Great to hear that you like our product and it was a very interesting Susan Boyle connection. Made for a great read.

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