April 18, 2009

What Susan Boyle & Patrick Doyle of Domino's Have in Common

The Susan Boyle performance that took the world by storm this week has an important lesson to teach us about Social Media Fundamentals, a lesson Domino's also learned this week, the hard way.

It's easy to call Susan Boyle an ugly duckling who blossomed into a swan, but that's where a lot of commentators are getting it wrong. Susan Boyle did not "transform" on stage; it was we -- her audience -- who transformed and, most importantly, engaged.

We all felt we knew something in advance about how talented she would turn out to be. The judges rolled their eyes; the studio audience snickered; and I watched the youtube link, I admit, with trepidation. But Susan Boyle stood there confidently, "cheekily", and held her ground. She represented herself truthfully and had presence.

She engaged us and showed us her strengths. We dabbed our eyes and tipped our hat (or our computer mouse) to her. We let go of preconceptions based on her lack of polish and gave her the credit she deserved. We met her halfway and changed, hopefully for the better.

Expectation>Surprise> Engagement

The two other most talked about videos of the week were the "Disgusting Domino's People" video and the response by the CEO of Domino's, Patrick Doyle.

Our reactions to the "disgusting" video by two malicious employees was based, in part, on a confirmation of our fears about fast food -- that uncaring employees make our food unsafe. The "Ewww... I knew it!" factor.

But our reaction to CEO Patrick Doyle's well-crafted message was surprisingly similar to our reaction to Susan Boyle and followed a similar pattern:

  • We were initially distrustful about what we were about to see: "This is going to be painful."
  • We were wary: "If you're good, why did you wait this long to come forward?"
  • We were begrudgingly tolerant: "Okay, let's see what you've got."
  • Then, surprisingly, we were engaged because Doyle, like Boyle, held his ground unflinchingly, told us what he stood for, defied our expectations, and had presence.

He took charge of the conversation with his audience -- like Susan Boyle did with her unwavering voice -- and transformed the conversation.

Presence > Voice

When judge Simon Cowell asked why she hadn't achieved success yet, Susan Boyle said, "I've never been given the chance before but here's hoping it will change." The internet, Social Media, and reality shows have given us all a chance to have a "voice." We can waste that chance like the Dominos Duo did and end up with arrest warrants (and poor career options!), or we can craft that voice and engage with our audiences.

Now clearly,someone knew Susan Boyle could sing; she had auditioned with the show's producers, who were savvy enough to leave the schmaltzy music swelling. But the audience didn't know and the audience was moved, uplifted, and transformed. And clearly Patrick Doyle has a crack team that helped him word his statement carefully, but he delivered it with heartfelt resolve and class (note to crack team: add CEO to your youtube tags). And while Domino's is using the clunky @dpzinfo on Twitter, at least they now have a presence on Twitter which is an important next step (2nd note to crack team: @P_Doyle is available!) The next step now, for Domino's, is to craft an engaging voice,

Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden got it right when she told Susan Boyle, "I honestly think we were all being very cynical and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever." Perhaps it's not the biggest wake-up call ever (the stock market crash, anyone?), but it is an important one.

We all have expectations based on preconceptions. Sometimes all it takes to help us evolve as audiences and consumers, though, is someone coming out, center stage, to let us hear their voice.

Presence and voice: brava Susan Boyle and bravo Patrick Doyle.


Scott Monty said...

Interesting parallel, Catherine. I'd give Domino's a less than stellar grade on the voice, though. The notion of reading a statement and not making eye contact on their YouTube video didn't work for me. Do one or the other (or BOTH if you can) - if you're reading a statement, look into the camera, or if you're looking off-camera, ad lib it.

Good food for thought.

Jake Widman said...

I like the line in the second paragraph about how Boyle didn't transform, we did. Both of them made it about us, if only because they needed something from us: Boyle needed our applause and the votes of our proxies, and Doyle needed our forgiveness and future business. Too many people use their chance to have a voice to make it about *them*--to broadcast what they want to say without considering what we need to hear.