I have had many different job titles, bought and sold over 250 businesses, been the CMO of a Fortune 100 company, a best-selling author (http://www.thinkbigtour.com/), TV host and a professional speaker. People are always asking me how I do it. The answer: because I think big, and act bigger. I believe success comes from tying visions to actions, forging beyond the stories, excuses and self-imposed limitations to be the biggest and best version of you.
While filming C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett on C-Suite TV, (http://c-suitetv.com/video/why-dominos-spent-millions-to-fix-its-pizza/), I sat down with big thinking companies to learn more about their strategies. One of the companies I visited was Domino’s Pizza. At the time, they were in the midst of a huge advertising campaign and rebrand. In 2010, Domino’s Pizza announced in a major advertisement that their product sucked. What kind of company would do that? Was this a marketing campaign gone wrong? Did this commercial somehow slip past the lawyers and the PR team? No.
In fact, this was a campaign Domino’s launched to show they heard their customers and wanted to respond to their complaints. Domino’s is the world leader in pizza delivery and a large publicly traded company with annual revenues in excess of $1.5 billion. So why take the risk?
When I visited Domino’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I learned it was because it didn’t know what it didn’t know. Meaning times were changing and consumers no longer just wanted fast food. They wanted quality fast food. Research showed that this change in consumer palates was not going away, and the company needed to adjust. Domino’s started re-making and re-baking everything, and when the company was ready, they decided to do something really radical: tell the truth.
While Domino’s actions were radical, they underscored essential lessons in genuine leadership when it comes to learning what you don’t know and thinking big and acting bigger. Here are some of my favorite tips.
Listen to Your Customers
“If you want to speak to a representative…good luck.” Stop hiding behind e-mails and 800 numbers and start speaking with and listening to your customers. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Respond to Your Customers
Once you have decided to listen to your customers, you need to respond to them. Domino’s heard the complaints about their pizza for a long time, but once they decided to listen, it was time to change.
Listen to Your People, Too
Your employees are your best assets; so don’t forget to listen to them too. Ask them, without consequences, to tell you what they really think and then offer ideas to solve the issues.
Take a Risk
One of the questions my employees hear me ask a lot is: “did anyone die?” In marketing, the answer is always no. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Taking risks can be great for everyone if everyone taking the risk is aware of where you want to go and is genuinely 100 percent committed. Remember: No one is going to die!
Be “Radical” by Being Transparent, Open and Honest
Never underestimate the value of honest, open communication and radical transparency to address and find out what you don’t know. Whether it takes a serious crisis or a moment of self-scrutiny, the most important thing is to be honest.
Anyone can apply these tactics to their own businesses or marketing campaigns. What I learned from Domino’s was not to get too confident or complacent. As leaders, we know a lot about our business, but we don’t know everything. Avoid tunnel vision, learn what you don’t know and get over yourself!