By now you’ve probably seen Domino’s Pizza’s commercial where they admit that their pizza was terrible. They’ve grabbed a lot of attention with this bold tactic and I give them credit for daring to be so transparent.
For all the things they’ve done well here, the story still seems less than genuine to me. They forgot one thing: the scapegoat.
They show chefs and executives reading all the negative feedback, swallowing hard and going back at it with a new enthusiasm. After a big group clap, they unveil the new pizza recipe that tastes way better than before. Does anyone else see the problem here?
The people delivering the new pizza are the same people that made the old pizza. Why should we trust them to do any better this time?
Domino’s almost got it right. But if you’re going to admit your product stinks, heads have to roll. We need to know that the problem has been identified and eliminated. There has to be a ‘new management’ moment that makes us feel like things are truly different.
Ending the ‘pizza makeover’ that way might not have been as uplifting but it would be more believable.
What’s the difference between the pesky magazine subscription inserts that fall into your lap when you’re trying to read an article and your personal business cards that you slaved over, shelled big bucks for and stake your reputation on? To the manufacturer, not much.
To the printer’s eye, it’s all just ink on cardstock. Ask the consumer though, and the difference is obvious: one is obnoxious advertising that you didn’t ask for, the other was co-created by you to be perfect. The difference in those points of view has never been greater and that spells opportunity for manufacturers.
(Good) Content Producers Add Value for Money
Artists and content producers have long known about that ability to add value to simple production materials. That’s why Renoir canvases go for millions of dollars and your art school homework gets $5 at a garage sale. By arranging their paint or design or text in certain ways, the artist has the potential to sell their products for a profit. For the manufacturer making the materials used in production, it doesn’t help them a whole lot. It’s better than making generic widgets maybe, but the author of the content has the best chance to make the money.
Things are different these days. The modern trend of mass customization through micro-quantity manufacturing is fueling a major Do It Yourself movement. People are empowered to produce their own content and products and want to do so, to show the world how unique they are.
Digital Manufacturers Enable Production for Money
This enables a really amazing opportunity for manufacturers that produce personalized stuff. Technology improvements now allow one-off production of things that used to require production runs of thousands. With the right tools in place, they can accept content produced by customers in the form of graphics, text, video, etc. and turn it into a tangible product. And sell it at a premium price. To the manufacturer equipped with digital production technology, they couldn’t care less whether they’re producing one order of 1,000 pieces or 1,000 orders of 1 piece. Except that they can charge a lot more for orders of 1 piece, even though their production costs are basically the same. After all, it’s just ink on cotton or toner on paper to them.
What happens to the content producer who sends their original design to a t-shirt shop now? They get the opportunity to see their work come to life in a real way, even if they have to pay to get it. That’s something I guess – it wasn’t even possible a few years ago. Meanwhile, the t-shirt shop that produces the item takes home a very large percentage of profit while effectively outsourcing their design development for free. At least the designer gets a cool shirt out of the deal.
It seems that everyone is opening up online these days. Tools for lifestreaming like Twitter and Posterous encourage publishers to share all kinds of details – how else are you going to fill a 24 hour day? Each person has a different idea of what’s appropriate to post in a public forum but there are implications for the reader who digests all of these personal details as well.
Flipping through the channels last night, I ended up watching a rerun of Extreme Make Over Home Edition, usually good for a heartwarming story. The Kadzis family was featured and they seem very deserving of a new house, having adopted several special needs children and working in their community.
What made last night’s show so unusual was that the day before the crew arrived to start on the new house, George Kadzis was rushed to the hospital, seriously ill. They knew that he had cancerous brain tumors and he had just taken a turn for the worse. The rest of the show made me feel a little strange because while all of the cool, entertaining things going on at the house were happening against the depressing backdrop of George’s deteriorating condition.
The segments where ABC interviewed the family were especially awkward and I kept feeling like I shouldn’t be watching it. It was too personal. Even ABC recognized there were some moments too sacred to be broadcast and agreed not to film George in his hospital room. (Although they did have cameras there and included some wide shots with his face blurred.)
With that experience fresh on my mind, I was made aware of another person’s turn for the worse this morning via Twitter. Baby Stellan has a serious heart condition. The only reason I know that is that his mom writes about her children, including Stellan’s struggles, at her blog. The blog is well written with beautiful photography and has a lot of dedicated readers.
Once I was made aware of the story from a Twitter friend, I could easily follow the unfolding events by reading MyCharmingKids.net, following the #Stellan hashtag or reading MckMama’s own Twitter feed (Stellan’s mom.) Seeing the resulting stream of activity is just heartbreaking.
In both cases, I felt surprisingly sad for people I’d never met before. There’s nothing wrong with that; I think we’re all called to have empathy. But it does take an emotional toll when you take on the worries of others.
The solution, of course, is to turn off the source if it becomes a problem. That’s easy enough when you’re talking about turning off a TV show but it’s a little more difficult in the always-on, everyone’s-a-publisher world of lifestreaming. I don’t have any answers for this one, just processing out loud.
Please pray for Stellan and spread the word as appropriate. If you’d like to, you can add a graphic to your Twitter avatar to help raise awareness.
Likewise, pray for the Kadzis family. You can also make a donation by following the instructions here.
It’s easy to ignore an acceptable business transaction, one that fulfills all or most of a customers expectations. But if a company can deliver the must-haves first AND surprise the customer with more, it will be hard for the customer to avoid spreading the word.
I ordered some business cards from Moo the other day. They are not like other web based printing companies and that’s a good thing. The thing that made my experience really fun and memorable, and the reason I’m writing about it now, is what happened days after I left their website.
Moo.com is not for everyone. The cards are expensive compared to other vendors online and the turnaround time is an unimpressive 5 business days. The design choices are neat but have very limited options for customization and there is no phone support. From a logical, features point of view, the site really doesn’t cut it. But Marketing is not all about logic.
It was easy enough to get my cards designed and I finished my order feeling okay about the whole process. They even sent me order confirmation details from a fictional personality named Little Moo, using snarky, sarcastic language. Fun, but a lot of people are doing that these days.
My view of Moo went from ordinary to remarkable when I got my cards in the mail.
Instead of packing the cards into a big brown box, they were delivered in a sturdy, handsome desktop display. The Moo logo is subtly included on the box in silver foil and my cards look great stacked inside. True to their personality, they also included an extra business card printed with a meeting crossword game, just for fun.
The effect was that I immediately wanted to show them off. It feels good to see your name on a high quality item and I was excited about the display. It was unexpected. The carrier itself makes you want to slide out a few cards and start handing them out.
For companies producing personalized products, the moment of unboxing is critical. When I was shopping around for a business card vendor, I compared the features like a rational shopper. But when I was opening up the packaging, I was excited to see what I would receive – at a fulcrum point for potential experiences. By nailing the product packaging and including surprise extras, Moo left a great final impression.
The attention to detail may cost a little more in materials and product development time. But the differentiation created and emotions produced make it worth it.
I’m a pretty logical thinker. I like to systematically break down a problem into its base parts until I understand all of the variables. I love figs. When I need make a decision (especially when spending money) I’m obsessive about research, listing pros and cons and triple checking my work. The problem is that people don’t really make decisions based on logic, myself included.
The truth is, we’re much more primal and impulsive than we like to think. If it were possible to be completely honest about why I do the things I do or buy the things I do, I wouldn’t find a list of benefits or features. I’d find emotion, needs, justification.
The truth is, even logical arguments aren’t logical if you look closely enough. I’m reading Godel Escher Bach right now (a real mind bender!) and it shows that there is no completely self evident statement. You can always question the assumptions of an argument into statements and then question the assumptions of those statements, on and on indefinitely. Eventually you need to just accept that a concept ‘feels right.’ In other words, you need to take a leap of faith.
So despite my love for data points and even though it makes me feel better to have all the background on an issue, it still comes down to feelings. My takeaway from a Marketing point of view: speak to emotional benefits, indirectly if need be, and take a flier on a project every once in a while.