Monday, March 20, 2017

Your Symbiotic Relationship with Customers

Control. To call one's own shots. To be the master of your own destiny. That's part of the American Dream; part of the entrepreneurial dream.  

Every entrepreneur has worked for bosses somewhere along the way that they didn't see eye-to-eye with. You may have had your own ideas about how things should be run.  And one day you knew you'd eventually be the head honcho.  This is a theme in an old Roy Oribson song, "Workin For The Man."
Oh Well I'm pickin em up, and I'm layin em down
I believe he's gonna work me right into the ground
I pull to the left, heave to the right. I wanna kill the man but it wouldn't be right
Cause I'm working for the man, working for the man
So I slave all day without much pay, cause I'm just bidin' my time
Cause the company and the daughter, you see, they're both gonna be all mine
Yeah, I'm gonna be the man, gonna be the man.

But will you REALLY control your own destiny, even when you become "The Man"? What IS control? In The Matrix Reloaded, Councillor Hamman poses the question to Neo who insists the machines in Zion are under their control:

Councillor Harmann: Down here, sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines I... I can't help thinking that in a way... we are plugged into them.   
Neo: But we control these machines; they don't control us.  
Councillor Harmann: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But... it does make one wonder... just... what is control?  
Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.  
Councillor Harmann: That's it. You hit it. That's control, isn't it? If we wanted we could smash them to bits. Although, if we did, we'd have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air...  

Sure, you might have developed five of the most perfect pizza recipes of all time....but what if the general public won't buy them at a price that generates a profit point? Can you afford to keep them on the menu? Do you call the shots, or does the consumer? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Just as the machines in the Matrix can't survive without humans who also can't survive without machines, a boss is in a symbiotic relationship with her/his customers.

Consumers respond to a number of factors. Taste, perceived quality, price point, service, atmosphere and experience, and sometimes even human relationships. These factors also exist in a symbiotic balance.
Finding the sweet spot requires tweaking and fine-tuning.  It also requires information from your customers.

Now that I've got you thinking about symbiotic relationships and communication, maybe it's time to take stock of yours. You may be doing enough communicating on your end, but how do you improve your listening skills when it comes to the consumer?

Fortunately, in the information age, it's never been easier. Your consumers live on their smartphones and in their social media spheres. Go where they live! I'm going to leave you with this tip today: Twitter polls.  If you're not on Twitter - get on it. But if you are, and have a lot of followers, you can take advantage of surveying specific questions with a twitter poll.

You can make a poll about anything you want. Whether people like a particular dish, how they feel about items you're thinking about adding to a menu, what to name a new product, what area you should expand to, even who they think is going to win the big game if you just want to have fun creating interaction with a poll.

To learn how to set up a Twitter poll, here's Twitter's article explaining it:

Hope I've given you some food for thought. Until next time, take the red pill.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lights, Camera.....Wait, Let's Re-Cast The Lead!

"You were expecting someone else?" - James Bond
You may have found yourself here at Pizza Perspective by way of our editor-in-chief's column in the March issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine. Although he cited my colleague Andy Knef as the author of this blog, Mr. Knef informed us mere days after the issue went to print that he’d gotten a great offer in teaching that it would be almost criminal of him to pass up. And so Andy left in pursuit of new opportunities.

But have no fear, the Pizza Perspective blog will continue under the penmanship of Yours Truly.

"Allow me to re-introduce myself." - Jay Z

It's actually fortuitous timing that I take over this blog during the March issue. The cover story is “Lights! Camera! Pizza!” A feature on the importance of video content in marketing. For the past six years, I've served PMQ and the pizza world as the Senior Media Producer. That's a vague title, because I wear many hats here. But the heavy lifting in my responsibilities is video production.

If you've taken even a cursory look at the modern world, you've probably noticed how often people check their phones (I've even watched Cleveland Indians playoff games and pro-wrestling pay-per-views on mine.) There's a slew of social media apps, and every single one of them utilizes video (some more than others.) From subways in Shanghai 

that project ghostly, holographic video ads onto the tunnel walls, to the sensory overload of Times Square, to custom ad screens on gas pumps all across Middle America - there is nowhere you can turn to avoid seeing moving images. It's kind of the reason I have a job.

"Video killed the radio star." - The Buggles  

With video so prevalent, you can't afford to be left behind when it comes to promoting your products and brands with video. Fortunately, there are a LOT of different ways to use video and no single “right way.” Even if all you’ve got is an outdated iPhone, there's a marketing avenue for you. Our March 2017 issue will help you learn how to get in the game of video. 

But just because I've taken over Pizza Perspective in March doesn't mean it will become a blog about video. Pizza Perspective will continue to cover a wide variety of topics, subjects, ideas and cultural zeitgeists. 

In my experiences with PMQ and Pizza TV, I've trekked across this continent chasing the American Dream, delved into the cradle of pizza in Napoli, and explored the next frontier of pizza in Asia. If I've learned one thing in the process, it's what noted poet Maya Angelou wrote so eloquently: "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."  I hope, with this blog, to share new perspectives with you, that you will in turn share your unique perspectives with me, and together we'll share our perspectives with the readers. That's a win-win-win.