How NOT to market your business

I was walking down a not-so-spiffy part of Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley the other day and saw a tiny new pizza place had opened up in an otherwise lackluster strip of storefronts. It was painted a nice Tuscan orange and looked like a sweet little place with just 2 two-top tables and an ordering counter. It was around 5 o'clock and I noticed a guy in there, but there was a big CLOSED sign in the window. I thought that was odd as it wasn't a "proper" restaurant, which often don't open for dinner until 5 or 5:30. And then I saw this chalkboard:


Besides the obvious ("NO SLICES NO SLICES"), there's the more subtle problem here: This unknown place on a sad part of Shattuck is selling whole pizzas for $18 and charging you for every extra ingredient ($1 for red onion, $3 for mushrooms... what?), when you can drive a mile over to Pizzaiolo and get a gourmet, wood-fired pizza with green olives, housemade sausage and basil for $17. And you can use your credit card.

The takeaway:

1) Do your market research. Price your product correctly or at least give the menu some love words-wise so that I am so blown away by the product description that I can't wait to hand over my hard-earned cash.

2) Avoid the "no" like the plague. If your customers are asking for something that's reasonable, give it to them and find a way to make it work for your bottom line.

3) Be nice. Even if you do the right thing and avoid the "no," you still need to put just a little bit of work into making your customers feel happy to be your customer. It doesn't take much, and I promise it's worth it.