Fear of the Unknown

It was a strange anomaly. As I drove home with the fresh knowledge that I had no spare, I was struck with the overwhelming fear of a flat. I inadvertently noticed that the car appeared to be wobbling. It was more a sense of an auditory sensation than an actual feeling as a slight thumping seemed to eke from the four tires. I turned down the radio and listened, but the car seemed to smooth itself out.

I turned the radio back up as the music died out and a commentator began to speak of the harsh implications of an economic recession. Again, I began to sense that at least one of the four tires was about to give way. I turned the radio off and listened again. The car rolled along smoothly, and my fear appeared unfounded.

However, the sound I did hear proved that I was lacking something. A grumbling arose from my belly, and I realized that the omelet I’d had with David was long gone. I immediately considered a restaurant I knew was close by and switched lanes to pull into the parking lot as I approached.

The sign out front, which usually carried shifting messages of daily specials, was blank, and as I made my way into the parking lot, mine was the only car there. I lulled to a stop by the front door. Hanging on the inside of the glass, the owner had posted a sign thanking patrons for their years of dedication, but sorrowfully stated that the restaurant was forced to close for financial reasons.

I pulled my car around the building and pulled to the edge of the street, scanning the area where a handful of fast food joints boasted full parking lots and drive through queue lines. I took a short

moment to mourn the loss of one of my beloved eateries against the success of its corporate competition and pulled out into the road, driving past the smell of French fries and hamburgers as my belly continued to grumble.

I noticed that another building sat dormant, this one a familiar chain that had at least another dozen locations in the city limits. The screen printed sign in the window offered no explanation of its closure, but simply said, “Sorry. We’re no longer open for business.”

I pulled into a local pizza place and ordered a slice. It occurred to me that I’d seen many restaurants go out of business lately as well as other independent stores and businesses. However, I hadn’t seen many pizza places closing up shop. And if one did happen to go out of business, it seemed as if someone else would come along, change the sign, and offer up more slices of this circular wonder food.

I wondered how it was that pizza places manage to survive and multiply when other restaurants seem to wither and die. Perhaps pizza really is the perfect food. Its collection of what have been considered the four basic food groups of bread, dairy, meat, and vegetables made it a dietary staple that can’t die out regardless of the economy. Perhaps its circular shape attested to the pattern of life and how all things flow and come around. Or perhaps it just tastes good and is really hard to mess up.

Most people have their favorite pizza joint. Maybe it’s a chain restaurant or maybe it’s a neighborhood mainstay. But few people, regardless where you buy the pie from, will ever turn down a slice when offered one.

It was one of the first foods widely accepted as deliverable, perhaps again inspired by its wheel-like shape. It has the ability to feed several people, and while it is extremely simple in its design, it is very versatile in its applications. It’s the food of choice for birthday parties, late office meetings, fundraisers, post movie viewing discussions, and all other sorts of events where one or more are gathered. It’s not only a dietary wonder, it’s a social bridge.

As I bit into the first corner of my triangle of cheese laden ecstasy, it occurred to me what little marketing a pizza place had to do in order to sell their product other than to exclaim, “We have pizza!” The product basically sells itself. But what of the other businesses that I would be trying to help in my new mission?

How, in this age of economic unrest, is any business supposed to accelerate their commerce? When people stop buying there seems little to be done in order to get them to part with their money to help an entrepreneur continue on with his chosen calling. But perhaps it wasn’t too different than the pizza man who simply states what he has to offer in the hope that someone is going to want it. Maybe the basis of marketing, even in an economic downturn, is to simply communicate what it is you do and how it can benefit others.

I took a few more bites and mulled it over as I chewed. Surely it wasn’t as simple as that. There had to be more to it than just telling people about your apparent offerings. Even with the pizza, there was more than just the crust. There’s the sauce and all of the spices that go into it. There’s the layer of cheese that needs to be apportioned just right. And there is the selection of toppings that individualize every pie. As I reached the edge of my slice, all that remained was the crusted dough that seemed to offer me a meager smile as my belly reacted with satiated pleasure.

I realized that in spite of all of the toppings, to make a good pizza, and to create a good business, you need to start with a good foundation. And I realized that if my new business was going to be writing about the tenets of marketing, I had a bit more research to do in order to make my foundation strong.

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!

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