Utilizing New Channels to Create Unforgettable Experiences

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Dinner’s on Joe.
Illustrated by H.P.Riggs, JR.

In today’s ever changing environment it is important for companies to separate themselves from their competition by creating unforgettable experiences for members of their community (customers, vendors, friends, etc.).  The Disney empire was built on creating “wow” moments and every company strives to do the same. Wow’s are what keeps them coming back and are the cornerstone of customer loyalty. This month, while working with a local insurance agency, we came up with a unique “wow” moment for his company that we believe we should share.

The agent, we’ll call him Joe, works for a large and reputable insurance company. His agency, franchise of sorts, is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River and his target market are the more than 20,000 residents residing in the three towns close to his office.

His agency is relatively new so Joe and his three employees continually seek unique ways to separate his firm from his competitors. We meet monthly to discuss his approach and to brainstorm on how he can improve his business without breaking the bank. Among the many ideas we discussed the following stood out as the most creative.

During our conversation Joe mentioned that he wanted to figure out how to work more closely with a local and very popular cheesesteak / pizza shop in order to gain exposure. The shop is located within walking distance of his agency and the owners recently gave Joe their business. Up until this point he has considered trying the traditional tactics including the ever so  popular “place your card in the bowl and win a lunch” contest. But today, a new idea emerged.

From now through the end of summer Joe will sponsor two pizzas per weekend to be delivered to anonymous customers within his target area. He will pre-pay the pizza shop and allow them to randomly select which customers (delivery only) will receive the surprise pie. Here’s how it will work and why it is a great idea.

Customer A calls on a friday night for a pizza to be delivered to his/her home. When the food arrives the driver simply tells the customer that the pizza is complementary of Joe, a local local insurance agent, who wants to build his reputation throughout the community. A pre-printed “thank you” card will be placed on the top of the box inviting the recipient to “thank Joe” on his company’s Facebook page and telling them to enjoy their meal. A simple yet powerful gesture.

Here’s why it will work.

  •  People love surprises, especially ones that save them money.
  • Eating is intimate and so is insurance. A natural yet subtle connection.
  • It screams community. Isn’t that what it’s all about.
  • The pizza shop also looks good so they will begin to sing his praises.
  • If he can successfully encourage people to talk about it online and thank him on his Facebook page then he will begin to reach people in those places every company wants to be.
  • It’s out-of-the-box, inexpensive, emotional, an experience, and fun. In other words, a homerun.
  • It’s nice.
  • It employees a new channel in the B2C relationship. Engaging the pizza shop to creates a new and unexpected carrier (literally) of his message.

There are few details to be worked out, including debriefing the staff at the pizza shop so they are clear in their message and making sure we get the responses we need, but nothing too challenging. The best part about it is the cost – we estimate an annual investment of $1,200 – $1,500.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and we will certainly keep you posted.

There are Two “C’s” in Success

Line outside Mack & Mancos

If you’ve ever been to the Ocean City Boardwalk on the New Jersey Shore (and no, not that “Jersey Shore”)then you’ve heard of Mack & Manco, the most famous pizza shop around. There is always a line to get in and the wait is always worth it.

This past Sunday our family made our annual early Spring trek to “the boards” to grab some quality time away from the madness and to have lunch at our favorite sea shore eatery. As I sat and waited for our large pie to be delivered I began to wonder why this place, out of the hundreds along the Jersey coast, remained so popular and successful. Was it the pizza? Sure, but why this particular pizza shop. The two things that stood out to me were clarity and consistency.

Clarity: This is the one place where you won’t be confused by what’s in front of you. On the table there will be a napkin dispenser, crushed red peppers, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The menu, which is on the wall, contains two things – five or so pizzas and drinks. That’s it. No appetizers, desserts, coffee, spaghetti, or anything to complicate the decision making process. It’s that clear.

Consistency: The pizza is made the same way every time and its delicious. Beyond the great pizza there are other consistencies that lead to the success and unforgettable experience at Mack and Manco’s (and this goes for each one of their many locations.)

There is always a line to either grab a table or take it home. Always. You will always be sat in the order you arrive. You can always count on the entire staff being dressed in white. White shoes, white pants, and white shirts.

The process is also consistent: they drop straws in front of each person at the table and take your drink order first. Once everyone has a drink then they’ll take your dinner order. I’ve never seen anyone write anything down and they only take cash (clarity). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a check or bill and think it’s a requirement for the staff to tell you what you owe. The food and experience are always consistent, and consistently good.

Mack & Manco’s has great pizza but their success is also be due in large part to a focus on consistency and clarity. They make it easy and clear for their customers and their customers reward them by remaining loyal.