Pizza Shops: Get Into Your Customer's Phones

The Yellow Pages industry made a point a of reminding people that the yellow pages are an ideal place to look up pizza places during January. This happens to be a busy month for delivery due to sporting events and the weather.

While the yellow pages are certainly a good advertising venue for pizza shops, here’s a tactic that may have even higher returns: Get into your customer’s phones. How? By publishing vcards on your website. Make it easy for people to download your business’ contact information with one click. Then, the next time they’re hungry for pizza they’ll already have your digits – and possibly only your digits – so you’ll gain more recurring business for no additional cost.

If you have to occasionally put people on hold, consider putting a “don’t forget to add our number to your phone’s address book” reminder to the hold message. Add the message to your receipt.

Anything that gets your into your regular customer’s phone is going to help cost effectively generate more business down the line.

Profiting in the Long Tail

Kevin Kelly points out that it’s quite common to hear a flip in explanations of the long tail when people move from left to right where best sellers and popular successful niche products are explained from the perspective of the product developer while the longest tail products are described more from the perspective of the aggregator. It gives the assumption that the products are not actually profitable for anyone other than the Amazon’s of the world who can make money off the products in aggregate while the creators of the long tail products are largely forgotten.

Personally, I don’t think this is the case. Many long tail products and services fall into different categories that also have low volume sales yet are extremely profitable. Very high end products, custom products, and niche consulting all come to mind. If you’re doing something with huge margins due to customization or specialization, you’ll have a hard time scaling your product or service, but you probably won’t need to in order to consider your business a success.

The important thing is to simply understand your market potential and where your offering falls on the long tail.

Convenience Trumps Fidelity in Most Markets

Fredric Dannen, author of Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business participated in a quorum on the Freakonomics blog looking at the music industry. While laying out his take on the industry, he made the argument that convenience wins out over fidelity:

Whats the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum

My epiphany, if you want to call it that, was simply this: consumers of recorded music will always embrace the format that provides the greatest convenience. No other factor — certainly not high fidelity — will move consumers substantially to change their listening and buying habits. The single exception to this rule was the introduction of two-channel stereo in the late fifties.

That’s a brilliant point. People want their music, and they want it in easy to consume formats. Tapes are easier to consume than records. MP3s are easier still since you can put thousands of them on a relatively indestructible Nano.

As I’ve thought about this concept, it’s become clear to me that convenience wins out over fidelity many other markets as well. Here are a few that come to mind:

1. Cell Phones – sound quality sucks compared to land lines, but I haven’t had a land line for 7 years. The quality goes down another step when you add a BlueTooth headset, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing down people who live off audio communications.

2. Fast Food – the food sucks compared to what you could make yourself. But that doesn’t stop people from eating a ridiculous number of meals in their cars.

3. BitTorrent – it’s easier to steal music, movies, and TV shows than buy them today.

4. CraigsList – it’s easier to post ads and search for ads on Craigslist than most every newspaper’s classifieds site. And it has RSS so you can create persistent searches for your RSS reader.

5. Travel – it is more convenient to run a search for a flight to Vegas on Expedia than it is to talk to an agent to has to describe to you what she’s seeing on her screen.

What would you add to the list?