One of the most critical commonalities of successful people boils down to one simple thing. Innovation. My favorite example of innovation is Tom Monahan of Domino’s Pizza. I have a lot of stories about Tom - you may have already heard some of them, as he's become a bit of a legend in the marketing world and has done an amazing job inspiring the same outlook and tenacity in his franchisees. But here's my favorite Domino's story:
There was a guy who bought a Domino’s franchise and decided to open his pizza place at a resort area near a lake. Unfortunately there were a few problems.
Now, the first problem was with his market area. He had chosen a hot vacation spot that was jumping in the summer, but virtually dead in the winter. So for 6 months of the year, it was crammed full of people, but come winter, the place virtually became a ghost town.
The second problem was discovered shortly after he opened. You remember Domino's guarantee? (Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less?). Well, unfortunately, there was no way that he could deliver the pizza in thirty minutes or less consistently because it was a big lake and the houses were stretched all the way around. Trying to do it in a car was impossible.
Marketing Strategy #1: He needed to navigate the shortest route between the two points. Thinking hard about his dilemma, the guy decided he'd just have to deliver the pizza by boat because every house was right on the lake and had a little dock. And so he became the first Domino’s franchisee to deliver pizza by boat.
The next problem he discovered was that boats don’t exactly stay stable like a vehicle does. And so the pizza was getting there in 30 minutes but it was all squished to one side of the box and stuck to the lid. Kind of disgusting, as well as being the exact opposite of what they advertise.
So do you know what he did?
Marketing Strategy #2: He went straight back to the Domino's HQ and asked for a little help. The Domino’s engineers got together and invented a device solely for his use, no other reason. They invented a device that holds the pizza in the boat, keeps it hot and stable regardless of what the boat does underneath it. (I guess it must somehow involve a gyroscope).
But this guy wasn't out of the woods yet. The next problem he had was that at night, unlike the lighted road and lighted address, the docks and the lake were very dark.
Marketing Strategy #3: Now his delivery guys were getting lost out there in the lake with the now upright, unsquished, hot pizza. So the Domino's franchisee decided to put lights and dock numbers on everybody’s dock at his own expense. Now when people ordered their pizza they could just give their dock number and the guy in the boat could get there.
That sure is a lot of innovation to make a pizza business work. But here’s the up shot. That franchisee, in a six-month period of time, out grossed two-thirds of what Domino’s franchisees do all year long. On an annualized basis, he out grossed all 2,999 other Domino’s franchisees last year - delivering pizza by boat, on his lake.
His ability and willingness to innovate and think out-of-the-box in his marketing strategy demonstrates a very important characteristic of all highly successful entrepreneurs. Just like that great quote says, “Within every adversity lies the seeds of equal or greater opportunity!” (Napolean Hill).