2009 October: Marketing Matters

I still get calls to this day from pizzeria owners telling me how well the “Million Dollar Letter” pulls in new prospects — and brings back lost customers. If you’re not hip to the letter, it is simply a full-page letter, explaining in vivid detail, what you are offering your prospect and why you are different from your competition.

No time to go into detail here. But, in the world of advertising, a letter is considered a “very long copy” ad. It fi lls up an entire 8½ x 11 page. It does NOT ever mention price, either. Instead, it creates desire. It focuses the prospect on what they “get” as opposed to what they “pay.” And, it controls and limits the prospects’ critical thinking (which is dangerous when you’re trying to persuade). That’s because, if you allow a prospect to fi ll in the “blank” spaces in an ad with their own preconceived notions, they will not pay any more for your pepperoni pizza than they will for another.

That’s because you’ve allowed them to defi ne your pizza with their perception of what it should be. Not necessarily what it is. If they don’t know you use premium ingredients, if you don’t point that out to them, then all they see is a “regular” pizza.

If they don’t know your large pizza is 30 percent bigger than your competitor’s large pizza … guess what? They’ll “assume” your large is the same size as the last large pizza they had.

People hate a void. And in the absence of that void being fi lled by you, they will fi ll in the blanks themselves. You simply cannot count on prospects fi guring out on their own what you do differently and why they should care. That’s your job. You need to paint a complete picture for them.

When your prospect encounters gaps in the information they’re receiving from your ad, they have a stunning tendency to fi ll in those gaps with their own ideas. In other words: They just make it up as they go. And you lose control of your message when this happens.

Here’s a concrete example: “Large 3-topping Pizza $9.99.” Those are facts, and now your prospect fi lls in the blanks from their own mental storehouse of previous experience.

Take control of your message: “Do you prefer the taste of whole-roasted garlic cloves, garden-fresh, handchopped rosemary and fresh (bakes right on your pizza) Italian sausage over the “fast-food” powders, fl akes and mystery meat? If you do, you’re going to love Angelina’s Pizza. And here’s an offer that’s sure to put a smile on your face: It starts with an enormous, extra-large pizza that’s more than big enough to satisfy the whole family …”

Gonna get everybody in the front door? No. Just the exact people you want! At the same time, the message is infused with bargain-hunter repellent. That’s because you’re not pointing at a “price.” You are instead bringing the focus to your “point of distinction” — fresh, premium ingredients on a “big” pizza. That is message control.

Don’t allow prospects to sniff skeptically at your proposal –– all the while painting your offering with their brush. Their rendition won’t look anything like the original. ?

Kamron Karington owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and author of The Black Book: Your Complete Guide to Creating Staggering Profi ts in Your Pizza Business. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.

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