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Take it from the Pizza Man

Guest Blog : Kelsey Kruzel, MOVE Communications 

“People thought we were crazy. But we wanted to be different. We wanted to break through.” Tuesday night at Ann Arbor’s local Michigan Marketing Minds event, Tim McIntyre of Domino’s Pizza told the remarkable story of how the pizza powerhouse went from a company with great service, suffering quarterly earnings and lackluster pizza, to a well-respected leader in business thought and action. Tim told the story of the “turnaround,” a story few companies can boast about. In 2008, the pizza business was suffering, as was the majority of the economy. Instead of blaming the circumstances or the competition, the brand took accountability for their shortcomings and vowed to do something different. And they did.

Dominos M3XMany people have heard the Domino’s turnaround story, so I won’t sit here and spell out the tale of how pizza made a comeback. I will, however, encourage you to apply a few of the lessons you can learn from your local pizza delivery guy.

Innovate. Set your sights on something better than the way you’re doing it now. Don’t get stuck in a rut just because it’s “the way you’ve always done it.” Dare to take a step back and see where you’re failing. Make a choice to do something better. Not only will it improve your business, it will challenge your soul.

Be transparent. When it doesn’t work, admit it. You might not need to broadcast your failure all over national television, but admit to yourself and your colleagues that something needs to change. Invite your customers or clients into the process whenever it’s relevant. Be honest about where you are as a company and don’t hide when things get tough. Rise to the challenge. When you tell your kids that “honesty is the best policy,” make sure you’re living by that policy too.

Failure is just the beginning. Many companies have to fail at something before they figure out the best way to do it. Failure creates an organic space for improvement and perseverance. If you’re able to grow, learn and endure through those failures, you can achieve many things you never thought you were capable of. Failure exposes you to many lessons you would otherwise have missed—and makes you better prepared for future obstacles.

Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Domino’s is a very successful pizza chain, expanding into another city every day; but even they don’t take themselves too seriously. Domino’s discovered that your plan doesn’t always execute itself just how you would have hoped. Oftentimes it’s necessary to take each day as it comes and make adjustments as you go. Domino’s realized that the best way to market to people is to connect with them. The best way to reach someone is to treat them as only human. Domino’s played into who they were as a brand and embraced the fact that life gets messy and people make mistakes. People respect a brand they can relate to. People respect a brand that owns up and calls themselves out. People like a brand that pokes fun at themselves. And people buy from those they like and respect.

These lessons aren’t just for companies on the brink of failure and desperately in need of a turnaround. They’re for every company looking to find a way to connect with customers and improve their business. Maybe we should all pay a little more attention to the “pizza man.”

If you’d like to hear more great stories from companies fighting the good fight in the marketing world, be sure to attend one of Ann Arbor SPARK’s Michigan Marketing Minds events.