Chicago Pizza Guy Creates Social Media ‘Domino’ Effect
Her resume includes digital strategy for global companies like Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Sun Microsystems and Zappos.
But her local Domino’s Pizza joint left her “completely shocked.”
On a rainy Sunday night, her Domino’s Pizza order took an hour to arrive and then was the wrong pizza. She turned to Twitter to vent: “hardly any room for human error, but still a mistake.”
What followed went way beyond the mea culpa tweet increasingly more common in business today.
Ramon DeLeon, managing partner of seven Chicago-area Domino’s stores, saw the tweet and contacted her immediately.
The correct pizza was already on its way. But “he insisted that he would make it up to me, and WOW me. He certainly did just that!” Korin says.
“The only way to put out a social media fire is with social media water,” says DeLeon.
The next morning, Korin found a new tweet from @Ramon_DeLeon: “@interactiveAmy we will make it up to you” with a link to a video apology from DeLeon and his store manager.
Korin in turn shared it with friends, family and contacts across her social networks. “Pandora’s pizza box had been opened,” she said.
To further wow her, DeLeon provided pizza for 350 people at the Chicago Social Media Club, an organization DeLeon was initially unaware that Korin was involved in.
“Ramon successfully kept my business, and his professionalism, timeliness and attention to every customer is what keeps me coming back for more,” says Korin, founder of interactiveAmy.com Social Media Consultancy.
To date, the video apology has been embedded more than 87,000 times (the number of times the video’s HTML code has been pasted in online). A Google blog search brings it up on countless blogs in dozens of languages.
It’s just one example of how self-proclaimed “pizza guy” DeLeon has built his business in a competitive pizza city like Chicago.
“Using the tools of social media, I’ve been able to put Domino’s pizza on the social media radar map in Chicago,” says DeLeon.
It’s 1 am Monday, Get Selling
When the Domino’s sales week ends each Sunday night, no matter how good the week before was, DeLeon can’t stand a register that reads $0.
“There are people awake at 1 or 2 am and they’re not eating my pizza!” says DeLeon. “I start thinking of hospitals, police departments, fire departments, gas stations, maintenance people in high-rises—all these people who are in the middle of their day right now.”
That’s the mindset that took DeLeon from a pizza delivery guy at age 19 to a seven-franchise managing partner today. From the start, he’s exceeded not only Domino’s expectations but customers’ expectations as well.
In 1998, DeLeon offered customers online ordering seven years before Domino’s corporate. To maintain a personal connection, he began communicating with customers via pager and AOL Instant Messenger in 1994.
Today, his arsenal of electronics on hand has grown to two web-enabled cell phones, a digital camera, a Flip video camera and spare batteries. Back at the office, DeLeon sits in front of four giant computer screens monitoring social media activity—perhaps a micro version of NASA central command.
With tools like Monitter, TweetLater (now SocialOomph), TweetDeck and instant messaging, he waits, watches and responds as fast as possible to keep customers happy, proving “You’re never alone with Ramon DeLeon!”
He Creates It
DeLeon has proven to be incredibly adept at creating content that people want to share. How? By instigating memorable customer experiences.
“With every single delivery or order, we are part of someone’s life. No matter how redundant the process is, the end result is not the same,” he says.
When Chicago resident Theresa Carter tweeted happily about her Domino’s order, DeLeon sent her a video thanks straight from London, where he was speaking to a group of Domino’s franchise partners.
“When I saw that thank-you video from Ramon—from London—I was blown away!” says Carter, president of The Local Tourist. “Now when I want pizza, I automatically think of calling one of his stores and feel guilty if I go somewhere else!”
Carter then made her own video thanking DeLeon for the pizza, proving that he gets big reactions by going beyond.
His contagious enthusiasm comes through in 64 creative videos on Viddler.com (under DPZRAMON):
- Telling customers about Cyber Monday deals, offering coupon codes
- Getting MC Hammer’s autograph as a thank-you for a blogger
- Documenting his trips around the world to speak about social media
- Presenting a giant dummy check to a guest pizza maker, and trying to deposit it in an ATM
He posts photos of special offers on TweetPhoto and Flickr, which encourages even more sales.
They Share It
If DeLeon can get customers to share their positive experiences with others, “even if it’s just with your cat,” then he’s succeeded.
To that end, he makes it easy to share experiences online. After ordering using the online pizza builder, customers can click on a Facebook link, which populates their own Facebook status with details of their pizza order.
Or customers waiting for orders at DeLeon’s stores can take a snapshot in front of a “Photo Op” poster featuring breadsticks and all of DeLeon’s social media handles. He finds customers post those pics on Facebook and Twitter right then, creating even more impressions of Domino’s.
11″ x 17″ pizza box fliers highlight DeLeon’s Twitter wall
The pizzas on his menu even have Twitter hash tags to encourage customers to share what they order.
He uses prime ad space—the top of pizza boxes—to showcase what he calls his “Twitter Wall.” An 11″ x 17″ flier lists the top customer tweets mentioning his stores.
“I try to promote customers as much as I can,” DeLeon says. “If I keep my customers in business, then my customers keep me in business.”
A customer poses in front of Ramon’s “Photo Op” poster
Customers Do Facebook for Him
One of DeLeon’s stores serves Northwestern University and its 15,000-plus students. Yet surprisingly, DeLeon does not have a Facebook fan page. In the days when only .edu emails could get accounts, he was desperate for one.
“I even thought about enrolling to get a Facebook acount,” he admits.
Fortunately, he didn’t need to. He learned a Northwestern student had started her own Domino’s group, “Dominos Is Better than Papa Johns.”
“I try not to come across as advertising, but as word of mouth,” he says.
To give students something to talk about, he started taking photos of every campus event where Domino’s was involved, including images of students holding coupon signs.
He posted them, with a Domino’s logo on each bottom corner, on his www.nudominos.com website. Students would download the unprotected photos of themselves and then share them on Facebook.
Today, students take their own shots and post them, and often tag the pizza box with DeLeon’s individual Facebook ID.
By connecting with students, DeLeon invests in relationships that he hopes will continue as students move into the workforce.
He also reaches out to the administrators of Facebook groups to offer special discounts. In response, all those group members experience Domino’s and post their own comments.
Create Addicts and Advocates
With sales and social media success, DeLeon now speaks to Domino’s franchise owners all over the world—drawing the first-ever standing ovation from a British Domino’s group. Dozens of blogs have featured him and he’s a top draw at social media conferences, where he rubs elbows with Starbucks corporate and social media celebs like Gary Vaynerchuk.
But he insists he isn’t doing anything truly different than 20 years ago as a pizza delivery driver. It’s still about creating unexpected customer experiences.
“Social media is just modern tools to do something very basic in business,” he says.
“I want people to get addicted to the experience of Domino’s. If they go somewhere else, I want them to feel a void in their body. ‘It’s good but it’s not the same.'”
How can you use social media to do the unexpected for customers? What creative ways can you use video to wow them? Please comment below.
Casey Hibbard is Social Media Examiner's case study writer. She is also president of Compelling Cases Inc. and author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset. Other posts by Casey Hibbard »