Analytics & Marketing Insights

Susan Boyle – Made to Stick – What You & I can learn

April 20, 2009           Digital Marketing

What can you and I learn from Susan Boyle (if you haven’t heard of her, you’re likely the only one)?

It is to craft our marketing messages (or any communication) so that they will stick in the minds of our audience.

If you are a marketer (or you are in any way responsible for creating messages for your company) you need to read Made to Stick. In it Dan & Chip Heath researched and presented what made stories and messages (both modern and ancient) stick in the minds of those who heard them.

So let’s compare the principles outlined in Made to Stick with the video of Susan Boyle that (as of this writing) has been viewed 33,570,148 times (four days ago when my wife showed it to me it had been viewed 4 million times. That’s viral!):
  • Principle 1: Simple – What could be more simple than a singing contest (we’re all familiar with them now)?
  • Principle 2: Unexpected – Here’s where the producers hit a home run. They made it appear as though we were going to witness a train wreck, but instead witnessed a virtuoso performance. Brilliant production.
  • Principle 3: Concrete – Susan sings beautifully and wins over the the crowd.
  • Principle 4: Credible – The judges, crowd, and show in general give the message its credibility. Would the message have spread if it was an audition tape with no judges or crowd?
  • Principle 5: Emotional – I know people who actually teared up when they watched this. A quick view of the comments show people are viewing it again and again because they are emotionally attached to Susan.
  • Principle 6: Stories – This is a classic Cinderella/Ugly Duckling story.
As you can see Susan Boyle (and the “Britains Got Talent” producers) hit every one of the SUCCESs Model principles and excelled in at least 3 (unexpected, emotional, and a story).
You and I will have more SUCCESs in our online marketing efforts to create messages that stick if we will follow the same model.
Apply it today and let us know how it works.


  • The SUCCES model is a great framework for thinking about how we tell stories. I use it every time I give a speech or go make a pitch. The one thing it does is provide a great yardstick to measure ideas against.

    How have YOU used it?


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