Chicago Pizza Guy Creates Social Media ‘Domino’ Effect

social media case studiesWhen it comes to social media, it takes a lot to impress Amy Korin.

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.

Organization:

Domino’s Pizza (7 Chicago-area franchise stores)

Social Media Tools Used:

• Twitter—2,500 followers, @ Ramon_DeLeon
• Twitter search
• Tweetlater alerts (now SocialOomph.com)
• TweetPhoto
• TweetDeck
• Viddler
• Flickr
• Monitter

Results:

• 7 successful Domino’s franchises
• Doors opened to provide pizza for large groups
• Hundreds of thousands of impressions of one video alone
• Dozens of blog mentions

“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.

Take-Out from Domino’s Pizza’s Ramon DeLeon

1. Be ready at all times.
An opportunity to “wow” can arise anytime. Carry the tools you need—and spare batteries.

2. Do the unexpected.
Going beyond inspires people to share.

3. “Put social media fires out with social media water.”
Counter negative online comments online, with something unexpected.

4. Thank customers creatively.
A creative thank-you goes a long way, especially if it’s sharable like video.

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.

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About the Author, Casey Hibbard

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 »




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  • edgandia

    Casey – This is a FANTASTIC social media success story! Great job providing us with the juicy details. This guy really “gets” social media. And what really impresses me about him is that, rather than whining about how competitive the pizza business is and throwing in the towel (when most others would), he’s embraced the current business reality and found creative ways to differentiate. That’s the kind of businessperson I admire. Bravo!

  • http://kolbemarket.com/blogging-and-linking/ BarbaraKB

    LOL! A video apology: nice touch, Dominos. But still, this is a large, corporate example, not a small business one. Got one for a truly local Chicago pizza store? That would be the most interesting to me… and countless small business retailers wondering about power of social media for customer service.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Barbara,

    Yea I like the video apology too. That was what first grabbed my eye.

    This is NOT Domino’s corporate by the way. This is local pizza franchise owner. No different than any other local pizza shop in any town except he happens to own some Domino’s pizza shops. This really is a good example of a small local business.

  • http://www.OwnYourBrand.com/ Mike Wagner

    Casey, thanks for sharing this great application of social media.

    This is the first time I’ve visited your site. Love what you’re doing with case stories. Much needed to get business owners moving.

    There is magic is the doing!

    Keep creating…a brand worth raving about,
    Mike

  • http://starkmedia.com/ Natalie

    Thank you for sharing this case study. I work in social media, so it is encouraging to see someone utilizing it’s full potential. I like the fact that Ramon is not only responding to negative posts, but thanking devoted customers. If a company only responds to negativity their interaction comes across as a PR move instead of as helpful. Customer service has always been a great way to build loyalty and now social media has enabled companies to reach customers they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise!

  • caseyhibbard

    Ed, thanks so much! Ramon is an incredibly inspiring guy. He got me super pumped to do more with social media, so I hope his enthusiasm comes across here.

  • caseyhibbard

    Barbara,

    Yep, he is a small biz owner operating independently from Domino’s corporate. In fact, Domino’s has him speak to other franchise owners to share what he’s doing.

  • caseyhibbard

    Mike, thanks so much for your comments!

  • caseyhibbard

    Also, we’re always looking for great candidates for these sm case studies, so drop me any leads you hear about and we’ll check them out.

  • caseyhibbard

    Natalie, I agree. I think Ramon’s attitude of gratitude really goes a long way. He’s genuinely appreciative, and also tries to give his customers exposure on sites like Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/icowboy Reid Carr

    Wow. Beyond the tactics, which are great, he does a great job exuding his passion and authenticity over video. He hits all the data points, yet come across natural and caring. Junior has been there for 11 years… I can see why.

  • mflaherty

    Great case study, Casey. You certainly captured Ramon’s enthusiasm–and business acumen. I completely agree with his take on social media as the toolkit to accomplish basic business goals. As you wrote:

    “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.”

    He nails it.

    best,
    Mary

  • http://www.designsuccessu.com Gail Doby

    Incredibly smart marketing, customer service and use of social media to enhance his brand. His enthusiasm an creativity is terrific!

  • http://twitter.com/howdoimarketbiz Joann Whetstine

    Love how he asks customers to take a photo with their phone while they wait for their order and upload it right to their social media sites (and how you can share the pizza you just ordered on Facebook). Great stuff! Just goes to show all you have to do is ask someone for what you want and if they like you, they will do it.

  • JoanAlte

    This is great publicity…not only for correcting a mistake…which we all make…but in showing that if you own up to it and show that it is an aberration and go above and beyond, you’ll get the right payback. Gives you faith in doing the right thing.

  • http://twitter.com/AJGerritson AJGerritson

    GO RAMON! I am so impressed by the enthusiasm, what a case study. Thanks for sharing, Casey!

  • http://www.globalcopywriting.com/ globalcopywrite

    Hi Casey,

    What a fantastic story! I think you’ve set a new standard for case studies. I’ll reference this with my prospects in two ways: 1) power of social media 2) how well-crafted success story can help your business.

    The most important thing about this is the value to small business. So often SMEs consider social media something for big business with big budget.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • caseyhibbard

    Exactly Joann! He gets customers genuinely excited about sharing their Domino’s interaction with others.

  • caseyhibbard

    Thanks Sarah! I really appreciate that. Yes, social media is powerful for ANY size business.

  • caseyhibbard

    Thanks Mary! He was an awesome interview! If only I could have included everything he said. Like all the marketing gurus tell you, he realizes he’s not just selling pizza, but contributing to life experiences, whether it’s just a night in front of the TV, a party or moving day. His passion nearly brought me to tears.

  • http://www.meebee.com JD

    Providing an “Awesome User Experience” is our philosophy, the meebee way, but Ramon takes this further by saying its about creating “unexpected” customer experiences. Good stuff! I occassionally order pizza or sushi for my team in different parts of the world to celebrate or brainstorm, but from now I’m gonna order from Ramon. Love what he’s doing ! Go Ramon :)
    JD, meebee.com

  • 10box

    This guy is a freakin’ genius. I love social media, because it’s a new world. And in this world, businesses must be real, they must be genuine – no hiding behind glitz, lies and false promises. You are what you are and you can’t lie for long and not be found out. Kudos to DeLeon.

  • dmbryan

    Wow, talk about supreme inspiration! Or maybe, meat lovers… Just goes to show what a little creativity and good old going the extra mile can do.

  • http://www.kellyolexa.com Kelly Olexa

    Great article. And I will confirm that Ramon De Leon is as passionate about his business and about people in person, as he is online. He uses the social media “tools” that are available to create a phenomenal customer experience and to provide exceptional customer service. He is also a very forward-thinking business individual, always thinking of the next best way to reach new customers and keep existing ones coming back. I am honored to count Ramon as a dear friend, and I know he will continue to be hugely successful.
    And for the record, their new vegie thin crust pizza is heaven on earth. ;-)

  • jc46202

    It is a great story, nice video, and over-the-top response, but for people who are business owners it presents a conundrum: will responses like this to ONE person whose pizza was mishandled (something that must happen hundreds of times a day across the world) create false expectations and a sense of entitlement for anyone in the future who Tweets a similar complaint? What are the long-term bottom-line costs of these decisions? Does all the social media sharing of this story translate into more than just eyeballs and head nods?

  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    great writing of a an excellent example of real small businesses in social media. I’m asking clients “How can you be more like DeLeon

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    YEA YEA YEA! This is exactly what I have encouraged local biz to do and they look at me with their eyes crossed. So gonna use this case study as I continue to go out and speak locally so they can start seeing how others are doing it….(even though you give them ideas, until they see third party DOING it, they are still leary)

    Now I am asking myself what can I do to give outstanding service to people who are NOT my customers YET! (giggle)

  • caseyhibbard

    10box, I love how you put it! So true about not hiding.

  • http://www.Viddler.com/ Bernie

    Casey,
    great article. :)
    I like to hear of all the different ways people use Viddler as a part of their social media toolkit.
    I really think like how you captured Roman’s passion for social media and ‘making things right’.

    Good luck,
    Bernie

  • http://www.viddler.com/ Bernie

    JB,
    I think you bring up a great point that many of us wonder about too. :)
    i wish there was an easy answer, but I think the only person who can answer these questions are those that use social media. It’s up to us to have realistic expectations and honest intentions. :)
    Bernie

  • http://twitter.com/Ramon_DeLeon Ramon De Leon

    WOW! I am “Beyond Excited” to read all the comments and Tweets this article created. It inspires me to open the thoughts and eyes of others to take their own game to the next level (#2TNL).

    Thank You,
    @Ramon_DeLeon

  • http://blog.meltwater.com/ Kimling Lam

    I really enjoyed this article. Very genuine and fun. Good job Mr. De Leon, you are ‘making things right’!

  • http://www.NehalKazim.com Nehal Kazim

    Thanks for the solid article Casey!

    An apology from a business alone takes unsatisfied customers by surprise. But an apology that was effectively communicated like in the video with the manager of the store and Ramon present is brilliant!

    @NehalKazim

  • http://twitter.com/CBirchallRapid Colin Birchall

    Just read this in snowbound UK and its a real inspiration. There is so much suspicion around social networking in businesses genarally and its so great to hear an inspirational boss like Ramon. This has really got me pumped up today !

  • pampelino

    Sounds to me like this guy is a “locally owned store” but I hear what you are saying–he still had the power of the Dominoes brand behind him–and an independent pizza shop would not have the power of national advertising, etc. As a marketer, I’m saying that even so, this example can be re-created for the small pizza shop. As we are navigating the sea of social media, remembering that marketing strategy dictates the tactics…the guy or gal who owns the independent pizza shop should hone in on their key differentators–and exploit those things using social media. That being said, Michael, do you know of any examples of independent retailers, restaurants, etc who are using social media to gain market share?
    Pam Pelino

  • pampelino

    Sounds to me like this guy is a “locally owned store” but I hear what you are saying–he still had the power of the Dominoes brand behind him–and an independent pizza shop would not have the power of national advertising, etc. As a marketer, I’m saying that even so, this example can be re-created for the small pizza shop. As we are navigating the sea of social media, remembering that marketing strategy dictates the tactics…the guy or gal who owns the independent pizza shop should hone in on their key differentators–and exploit those things using social media. That being said, Michael, do you know of any examples of independent retailers, restaurants, etc who are using social media to gain market share?
    Pam Pelino

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Pam,

    Most of the stories we come across are from slightly larger than “mom and pop.”

    I still think the ultra-small local business is largely ignoring (at their peril) the opportunities presented by social media.

    Mike

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Pam,

    Most of the stories we come across are from slightly larger than “mom and pop.”

    I still think the ultra-small local business is largely ignoring (at their peril) the opportunities presented by social media.

    Mike

  • pampelino

    Hi Mike:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Im with an ad agency and our clients are beginning to feel the power of social media. We are writing campaigns for grassroots marketing efforts–with social media at the helm. Building or linking to a great web site and making that the hub can do so much for businesses–small or large. The key factor I am consistently seeing people NOT doing is integrating. I direct the marketing at the agency–and integrating the marketing pieces WITH social media is big. Also, another stumbling block I am seeing for clients is not identifying a designated community manager(s) for posts, etc. I like to see a social media calendar with an owner of the project–just as you would have for any other tactic. This ensures maximum continuity for the brand. Your thoughts?

    Just found out about social media examiner. Great content!

    Pam

  • pampelino

    Hi Mike:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Im with an ad agency and our clients are beginning to feel the power of social media. We are writing campaigns for grassroots marketing efforts–with social media at the helm. Building or linking to a great web site and making that the hub can do so much for businesses–small or large. The key factor I am consistently seeing people NOT doing is integrating. I direct the marketing at the agency–and integrating the marketing pieces WITH social media is big. Also, another stumbling block I am seeing for clients is not identifying a designated community manager(s) for posts, etc. I like to see a social media calendar with an owner of the project–just as you would have for any other tactic. This ensures maximum continuity for the brand. Your thoughts?

    Just found out about social media examiner. Great content!

    Pam

  • http://www.Tenbridge.com/ Phil McCusker

    Well it is quite different. Think about how many stores they have worldwide and the reach of the Domino’s name. His actions and the spread of his good deed impacts the entire Dominos brand in a way that people can associate themselves with and what their friends can associated with. Outside the chatter of social media circles, would I care about a local shoe shop in Moscow that did the same when I have never heard about the brand and can’t even buy the product? Would the brand name stick in my head the next time I’m in Moscow ?I think an important factor that I’m surprised no one has mentioned was Amy Korin. She’s got to be a very well connected and respect individual online in addition to 350 other social media pundits. Knowing or otherwise when Ramon went to great efforts to please her and her friends, he tapped deep networks and it went on from there. The vehicle that was Amy Korin & friends was crucial seed for widespread chat in my view.

    I think its a great case, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.TwentyFeet.com/ Paul Herwarth von Bittenfeld

    Thanks for the story! Nice article and a lot to learn for other small businesses.

  • http://TheComputerBlogger.com Geoff Burnette

    Wow. This article shows a new facet of social media marketing. Its so simple yet brilliant.

    I have spent a couple of months getting my blog up and populated with good content-rich articles and am ready to start getting the word out to let more people know. This article is right on time. I’m going to go thru it again when I get home so I can absorb it slowly – then put the ideas to work.

    Thanks for such great info.

  • inspiredeggs

    The social media tactics used in this example are great for any small business. With a little innovation a small business owner can leverage these ideas in her local market. Great story!

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/Dominos-Pizza-Menu suzan

    i like pizza yummy:) nice article about dominos pizza..very informative

  • AlinaHere

    Today is July 30th, 2010 and this story & case study is More Relevant than Ever!! I aplaude Deleon’s initiative years before Social media was the New Rave!! He saw an Opportunity to Create Relationships with his customers and did it against advertising norms at the time. Today video marketing is the new gold rush & DeLeon is already an old pro at it!! I totally Love it!!

    Many would be wise to study this article and Implement many of his strategies and tools. I can’t believe I still hear business people in the news scoff at Twitter and such. BIG Mistake!!

    Building Relationships & ANY Business is Easy as well as Free using Social Media… to ignore these tools and their importance in today’s economic climate is completely foolish!! Ignorance is not an excuse. There is a vast array of information available to business owners so that they may learn how to use these tools to promote their businesses and leverage their customers experience for loyalty & testimonials… such as DeLeon has shownus. It may very well turn out to be more expensive not to learn these tools.

    Thank you for this article, I plan to share it and hope many can gleam the gems within it!!
    Keep it coming! Again Thanks!! xo

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  • Jennifer Osbon

    Since I don’t live in Chicago, I don’t get this kind of customer service. I live in Atlanta. I just received half my order and I was told it would be another 45 minutes before they could make it right. No apology. More of a “I can send it to you but it will take a while… long silence.” I said “Never mind.” which is what the manager wanted me to say. From his perspective, problem solved. I hung up.

    From my perspective, it’s harder. I am a CEO of a social media agency. We work with big brands like Sunglass Hut, Coke and KSWISS. However unlike DeLeon’s client base, my local manager doesn’t care if I’m unhappy.

    When I read this article earlier this week I was frustrated because I thought DeLeon went overboard to please an influencer. What if she weren’t a social media czar? She still deserved great service. I still feel this way and I was just written off as a hungry nobody.

    This year my agency is focussing on how franchises can leverage their local ownership base to deliver consistent messages through social platforms.

    Over-delivery in some markets and under-delivery in others is not good for the brand. Consistency of response is best.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Snow/100002633454855 Tara Snow

    Domino’s has always been great to me, I
    love their new ingredients, but I keep coming across stories of
    people who have had really bad experiences with them, there are some
    really funny vents about them here>.

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