10 Years Ago, ‘Cardboard’ Pizza Almost Killed Domino’s. Then, Domino’s Did Something Brilliant

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In 2010, Domino’s had an issue. Positive, Domino’s was one of many largest pizza supply chains on the planet. In reality, analysis agency Model Keys named it the highest total pizza chain.

Pace of supply and comfort of ordering — Domino’s was the primary within the trade to introduce cellular ordering, to gamify the ordering course of, and to permit clients to trace their orders — had been unmatched.

When it got here to style, although, Domino’s got here in tied for final with Chuck E. Cheese, the kids’s pizza-party chain.

The excellent news? You might get your pizza actually, actually quick.

The unhealthy information? You then needed to eat it.

“It is a firm,” said CEO Patrick Doyle, “that had constructed the entire model round quick and dependable supply, and … we realized that everybody on the planet who needed quick, handy pizza was already shopping for from us, and the individuals who needed a terrific pie merely weren’t.”

The style subject was so unhealthy — and so widespread — that when Domino’s ran its personal client checks, it discovered that that individuals preferred the identical pizza much less in the event that they knew it was from Domino’s than in the event that they thought it was a pizza from one other chain.

“We had one way or the other created a state of affairs,” Doyle said, “the place folks preferred our pizza much less in the event that they knew it was from us.”

Whereas an entire recipe reinvention appeared dangerous — CMO Russell Wiener referred to as it as massive a danger as McDonald’s reinventing the Massive Mac — slumping gross sales and a stagnant share value made the choice one most corporations would have made.

However one other choice was not.

“Worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.”

Domino’s might have taken a web page from most any firm’s playbook: Work behind the scenes to treatment the issue, whereas doing all the things attainable to downplay publicity and buyer consciousness within the meantime.

In spite of everything, admitting an issue naturally brings extra consideration to that drawback. “Our pizza kinda sucks” is the very last thing potential clients need to hear.

As an alternative, Domino’s actively sought suggestions by way of its Tracker app, and inspired clients to add images in its “Present Us Your Pizza” marketing campaign.

After which it shared a few of that suggestions in nationwide adverts and on an uncensored — aside from profanity — Instances Sq. video billboard.

Like, “Microwave pizza is way superior.” Like, “Worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.” Like, “The style of its crust is like cardboard,” one the corporate mentioned it heard “time and again and over.”

The CEO appeared in a few of these adverts. Product and advertising and marketing managers. Cooks. 

The corporate took the suggestions, shared the suggestions, embraced the suggestions, and as Doyle mentioned, promised to “work days, nights, and weekends to get higher.”

The outcome was a case examine in producing huge product enchancment publicity and consciousness. Domino’s did not say, “What was nice, is now even higher,” a standard method that nobody pays consideration to.

As an alternative, Domino’s leveraged the “attraction” of destructive suggestions; research shows folks naturally hunt down information that’s predominately destructive. That bought folks speaking. That bought folks — in each the story and the pizza.

Plus, the very fact suggestions was typically shared publicly made extra folks possible to present suggestions. Which gave the corporate extra knowledge, extra insights, and extra customers of its cellular app.

And quite a lot of free publicity for its new recipes.

However, probably most necessary, Domino’s confirmed vulnerability. 

It is onerous for folks — a lot much less corporations — to confess a weak point or failure. But Domino’s did what nice leaders typically do. It acknowledged it had an issue, and requested for assist in addressing that drawback.

And it reaped the advantages: Identical-store gross sales progress elevated 10.4 p.c between 2009 and 2010. As for long run? Should you had invested $1,000 in Domino’s 2004 IPO, your inventory could be value extra at this time than if you happen to had invested $1,000 in Google’s 2004 IPO.

After which there’s this: “By saying what we mentioned in regards to the pizza, we blew up the bridge,” famous Wiener. “That is what made it a lot extra highly effective. If it did not work out, there was no place to retreat to. There was no going again.”

When your clients know you will have an issue — higher but, when you know you will have an issue — personal it. Admit it. Embrace it.

As a result of admitting a weak point will not trigger you to lose respect, together with your clients or your staff.

Particularly if you happen to then ask for assist and work onerous to beat it.

The opinions expressed right here by columnists are their very own, not these of

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Huynh Nguyen

My name is Huynh and I am a full-time online marketer.

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