What if you could sell your product or service in five seconds? How great would that be?

Recently, we’ve had a number of people walk into our offices trying to sell something. It’s ranged from printing services, to promotional products. At one point, the sales person wanted to trade food coupons to a local restaurant for my personal information and when I indicated that our team was very busy and I wasn’t interested, she had the audacity to ask if there were others in the building she could interrupt to talk to.

After that last one, a couple of us talked about how off-putting that experience was - it’s just so disruptive.

But if you dig a little deeper into it, you’ll realize that the reason it’s disruptive isn’t because our work was interrupted, it’s because in each case, we had no felt need for what was being offered by the person standing in our entrance area. If what they were peddling was of great interest to us, their visit wouldn’t feel like a disruption at all, it would leave you asking: For me? How did you know?!

Which is what happened this morning with pizza.

A person walked in the front door of our offices, and when greeted, simply handed us a set of coupons from Papa John’s and indicated that, amongst others, there were coupons for one free pizza, and one at 30% off. Then she promptly left. And I can say with some confidence, that there’s not a single person in this office that felt as if they’d been disrupted in any way.

So why did pizza work?

Because, while there are often exceptions to rules, it’s safe to say that an overwhelming majority would be quite happy with a free pizza. In fact, it’s 10am as I write this, and I’d crush one right now (I said as much out loud to the whole office after she walked out).

On a related note, I remember sitting in a Denny’s in Virginia about ten years ago and seeing the staff wear t-shirts that read: No one ever returns bacon. I laughed because it’s true. But what a powerful position from which to market. It’s the same position pizza holds.

Papa John’s didn’t need to make a big pitch because they were just connecting to something we already want. They just needed to tap into, or awaken, that existing felt need, and then make sure they were top-of-mind when we went to buy. All that in a five-second exchange.

I’m all for five-second marketing. But too often, organizations try to create five-second marketing on the back of products and services that don’t meet a felt need, or they haven’t figured out the right language to speak to the felt need (brand position), and that’s a recipe for a failed campaign. Five-second marketing can sound like a silver bullet, but in reality, it operates solely on the back of tons of hard work to create a product or service that is easily marketable, and to understand the language that will cause your audiences ears to perk up with interest.

If your product or your positioning isn’t that, then prepare to spend a lot more than five seconds, and a lot more money, to convince people to buy it.

If you need some help with that, give us a call. But not in the next hour or so...it's almost lunch and, well, I think you know where I'm heading...

Andrew VanderPloeg Guest Blogger, Consultant

Andrew served at Bark for over 20 years before recently taking over the role of Vice President of Marketing & Communications at ShareWord, one of our favorite organizations.