As an account executive at a B2B marketing agency, I’m always taking notice (and critiquing) advertisements and messages that companies send out to their audiences. Suffice it to say, the volume of messages I encounter each day can keep me pretty busy sometimes. As a result, it can be tough for a company to break through the clutter and grab my attention, especially in my free time. So when one actually does (and does it well!), I take notice.
Example: Dominos Pizza.
In their bold new campaign, called The Pizza Turnaround, the first thing Domino’s did right was going out and asking their customers what they actually thought of the product, and how it could be improved. (Now, they may have done this due to declining sales, I don’t know; but obviously I would normally recommend doing this along the way, rather than using it as a crisis management tool.)
Then, they not only listened to these focus groups, but actually used them to rethink their own product from the crust up. And it’s a good thing they did, because let me tell you, the feedback was not good. In fact, some of it was downright embarrassing. But Domino’s didn’t shy away from the ugly truth. Instead they owned up to it, warts and all, by featuring the actual focus groups in their ads, essentially telling America they’d been accused of having tomato sauce that tasted like ketchup (Ouch!). This bold move allowed them to reposition themselve’s as agents of change, centering the campaign on their mission to improve.
In addition to this outward marketing campaign, Domino’s also created an inward campaign (which they also show on the commercials) where signs emblazoned with some of the harshest customer critiques were placed inside the kitchens of every location to remind employees what not to sink back into.
Subsequent ads featured Domino’s higher-ups going door-to-door to revisit members of the original focus groups, this time with the revamped-recipe pizza in hand. The result? The people liked it. Now THAT, my friends, is effective advertising.
Lessons to learn:
- Listen to your customers. Ask them what they think. Don’t wait until its too late, but even if you do, OWN UP TO IT. Be honest. We all make mistakes, and the public will forgive you.
- Include an internal portion of your campaigns that reminds employees about your message. They are the ones who either are or are not making sure that message remains truthful, so be sure they know what that message is.
- Remember testimonials! Domino’s went back to people who said poor things about their product and got a retraction testimonial, which was great, but it also isn’t the only way to do it. Again, don’t end up in crisis management mode. If you’re talking to your customers already, gather as many testimonials as you can, because these can be effective in giving validity to your product (or service, or whatever you’re promoting.)
Bottom line? Domino’s messed up, fessed up, and even created their own campaign about it, and this was a great way to approach it from their situation. But furthermore, and even MORE importantly, they might not have had to create this campaign in the first place had they been listening to their customers all along. So remember engage with your customers (Blogs? Phone calls? Email? Anything!) and listen to them. They’re the ones who know about your product more than anyone, because they’re the ones who are (or ARE NOT!) buying it. So listen to them. As for me, I’m gonna be ordering myself some Domino’s tonight, baby! And hey, maybe after tonight they can use me as a testimonial!