The marketing game has changed but most companies are still trying to win playing by the old rules. Well it’s time to wake up and smell the pizza. Yes, I said it, pizza.
Domino’s Pizza has launched a new 75 million dollar ad campaign in hope of reviving its brand and overcoming negative product perceptions. Flash back a couple of years and you can just image what this campaign might look like. Pull back camera shot of a suburban home with a white picket fence. A Domino’s delivery car pulls up. Cut to front door where a family of paid actors answer the doorbell and exuberantly cheer as a blue and red clad delivery driver hands over a dominos box. Cut to steamy up close product shot.
Domino’s understands how the game has changed. So instead, in a new TV commercial from Domino’s Pizza, company executives huddle in a board room, some with hands clapped over their mouths in horror, as they listen to a consumer say, “Domino’s pizza crust, to me, tastes like cardboard.” The spot then cuts to an R&D kitchen where Domino’s chefs are preparing food. “The sauce tastes like ketchup,” says Head Chef Brandon Solano, repeating an often-heard criticism. It’s instantly clear that Domino’s is doing something different here. It has decided to face its critics head-on. The approach is not only different but also refreshing. It demonstrates that Domino’s understands the first key to the new marketing game:
1. Companies must actively listen to customers’ conversations.
In a short YouTube video the company goes so far as to show tweets and other online posts harshly criticizing their product. Again, Domino’s shows how it is listening to the pizza conversation.
Next, the commercial explains the painstaking steps taken to reformulate the product including the sauce, cheese and even the crust. Here lies the second key to the changing marketing game:
2. A company should not only listen but also respond with meaningful change if they wish to be successful.
This two-way avenue of communication is the key to any fruitful interaction.
Juxtapose this against the Corn Refiners Association recent campaign that tries to assure a wary public that High Fructose Corn Syrup isn’t as bad as your family and friends say. This is a knee-jerk defensive reaction to consumers’ heartfelt concerns. The response CRA gives is akin to sharing your concerns with someone who sin’t listening but instead is just waiting for his or her turn to talk. In this conversation the public is saying, “Hey, we’ve heard that high fructose corn syrup is bad. I’m going to try and avoid it.” The Corn Refiners Association responds back, “We’ve heard you and you’re wrong. Everything is fine.” Sounds like a short and unproductive conversation to me. In stark contrast, Domino’s has placed the consumer in the position of trusted advisor and ultimate authority on the value of the product.
The third and final key illustrated in the Domino’s campaign:
3. Transparency is what consumers value most.
Rather than just changing the formula and advertising the new taste, the company instead shined a light on its commitment to excellence and willingness to listen. It showed the process behind the scenes that led to this change.
Is your company hesitant to start a social media campaign because unlike traditional marketing no one party has full control of the conversation. What would have happened if Domino’s hadn’t listened to its detractors? The conversation would still be happening and the “crust taste like cardboard” story would be repeated endlessly. The company’s participation gives them a voice and the chance to change the conversation. They may even turn some of its fiercest detractors into brand evangelists. You won’t get that with traditional marketing.
It’s time to dip your toe in the Social Media Marketing water. Start by researching which blogs cover your industry and start to pay attention to what is being said. Great sources for finding industry or topic specific blogs include AllTop and technorati. Next, search Twitter for specific phrases related to your brand, product, service, industry and competitors. Setting up a social media listening post is simple using an RSS reader like Google Reader. But remember to listen first. Then slowly try and find ways to engage in the conversation. You might just find ways to improve your business and turn loud critics into raving fans.