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#110 Blog Post - A Roaring New Business
From:
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Thursday, October 1, 2020

 


#110 Blog Post – Thursday, October 1, 2020

 

Posted by Denny Hatch

 

Neophyte Direct Marketer—Amidst Covid-19—

Creates a Roaring Business in Just Six Weeks!

 


Robert Amar, Founder and Proprietor of SmallWorldSeafood.com

One day in late March our friend Marjory on the 29th floor alerted Peggy that a guy was selling superb seafood that we could order by email (or phone) and pick it up the next day across the street.

 

Really?

 

We went to the website, ordered mussels and salmon on Thursday, picked up the order from the truck on Friday afternoon and had two marvelous meals:

 

        • Mussels in white wine and garlic on Friday.

        • Glorious grilled salmon on Sunday.

 

We quickly became regular customers.

 

A Business Built by Word-of-Mouth

Robert Amar spent 25 years in the restaurant business. As a former restaurateur and savvy entrepreneur, he had done everything—owned eateries and worked with fledgling and experienced restaurateurs on wine tasting programs, staffing, menus, kitchen design, recipes, writing ads—the works.

 

 Four years ago he launched a thriving wholesale business selling the world’s freshest, finest seafood to top tier Philadelphia restaurants from his warehouse in the massive Packer Avenue Marine Terminal.

 

As Robert tells it, his world—Small World Seafood—was turned topsy-turvy one day in early March. He had amassed a large inventory of fresh fish ordered by his clients who were expecting to feed the usual crowds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Suddenly the Coronavirus-19 catastrophe hit that Monday and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney ordered the closing of all restaurants, leaving Robert high and dry.

 

Not willing to simply throw out his stores of splendid seafood, Robert went to his block captain’s email list of Fairmount area neighbors and described his predicament. 

 

His offer: Don’t let my wonderful fresh mussels, scallops and salmon go to waste. Take them FREE!  He couldn’t deliver house-to-house, but his truck would be parked on the corner of Woodstock Street from 2:00 to 3:30 where they could pick up their free fish.

 

Robert not only got a bunch of takers, but also email requests and phone calls asking if they could buy other fish—say swordfish or shrimp. The available swordfish was not top quality that week, but he could get great shrimp, frozen cod and marvelous canned crabmeat from East Coast waters. Plus branzino from Greece. He got 28 customers for free fish; and a number of folks ordered other selections and paid online by credit card.

 

A Funny Thing Happened…

The following day the Amar truck arrived on time and the masked customers formed a (socially distanced) line to pick up their orders.

 


Andy Farrell presents an order from the truck.

Behind him is direct marketer Robert Amar.

 

Neighbors in the next block noticed the ado on Woodstock Street and beetled over to see what was going on. When they heard the story, they not only phoned and emailed orders for free fish, but also asked if they could tell their friends and family. Sure. Why not? One member of the crowd that day was Robert’s long-time buddy, Andy Farrell, who had just been laid off from the popular City Tap House which was suddenly out of business. The following week, with Andy helping, Amar had 150 orders.

 

The Word-of-Mouth Miracle.

Over the next few weeks people all over center city heard about the new service—absolutely fresh seafood available for pick-up right in their neighborhood. They tried it, loved it and not only became regulars but told their friends and family around town. In the next few weeks the email list expanded exponentially. Robert and Andy hit the jackpot when condo owners at the Philadelphian—the massive luxury building across from the Philadelphia Museum of art with 753 housing units—learned of the new business

 

A week later the customer base had expanded across town to our 44-story St. James Tower. Our friend Marjory told us and Peggy immediately emailed the residents on the building e-bulletin board.

 

Today Robert and Andy have an email list of 3,000 customers that generates roughly 300 orders a day.

 

Beauty Shot from www.smallworldseafood.com

 

How Robert Amar Created a Brand New

Direct-to-Consumer Business in 6 Weeks

In the world of marketing, a supplier of seafood to restaurants would be pigeon-holed as a  b2b—business-to-business—operation. This means large orders of seafood delivered to relatively few high-rollers. Overnight Amar became b2c—busines-to-consumers—direct selling small orders to many individual households.

       

A Changed—and Far More Complex—Business Model

Here are the new elements:

 

Big Customer List. As new orders came in, names, addresses, emails and telephone numbers must be recorded in a format for emailing offers.

 

Preparation. Every family knows how to cook beef, bacon, chicken, hot dogs and ribs. Seafood is different. Early on Robert found many needed guidance on how to cook the many varieties of seafood. On his website is an extensive repertoire of world-class, easy-to-prepare recipes including YouTube links, so nothing is left to chance.

 

Delivery. Obviously Robert can’t deliver orders to hundreds of individual households, apartments and condos. So his instructions for pick-up are absolutely precise and easy-to-understand.


DIRECT TO CONSUMER RITTENHOUSE/FITLER/WASHINGTON SQUARES FRIDAY PICK UPS-SIGN UP HERE

CRAZY TIMES CALL FOR CRAZY MEASURES. WE HAVE STARTED BRINGING SEAFOOD DIRECTLY TO YOU. WE HAVE A SIGN UP FORM BELOW FOR RITT/FITLER. WE EMAIL ORDER FORMS ONCE A WEEK ON THURSDAYS AT 9AM FOR PICK UPS ON FRIDAYS. THREE PICK UP LOCATIONS FROM 11AM TO 3PM INCLUDE  AT THE CORNER OF TANEY ST AND PINE ST FROM 11AM TO 11:55AM, IN FRONT OF THE ETHICAL SOCIETY FROM 12PM TO 1:30PM  AS WELL AS WASHINGTON SQUARE FROM 2PM-3PM. I CURATE THE SEAFOOD SELECTION TO BRING YOU THE FRESHEST THE SEA HAS TO OFFER.

 

The Weekly Newsletter. I asked Robert if he had a professional copywriter. His response, “Nah. I do it all myself.” His copy is fun and upbeat—a delight to read.

 

After all, these are his kind of people. He has known them for 25 years—how they think and what they feel. They are literate—as is Robert Amar. He emphatically does not need a hired copywriter to talk to them!

 

(Dare I call them a-fish-cianados?)

 

Here is the September 15th email: 

Small World Seafood Update – September 15, 2020
From: SMALL WORLD SEAFOOD

Date: September 15, 2020 at 12:02:39 PM EDT
To: 2SMALLWORLDSEAFOOD
Subject: SMALL WORLD SEAFOOD UPDATE

?HELLO EVERYONE!!!

 

Well, if I ever get into a street fight, I know who I can call on. Boy, you guys came to my defense with flames and pitchforks.! I love it! But relax everyone. This isn't about starting a fight anyway. We love anybody anyway.

 

So for two weeks now, the markets have been upside down. There was no salmon one week and the trout turned out to be bad and halibut was no good last week. I imagine that some of you feel a little like this:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZiX28ViRBI

 

In the aforementioned spirit of things, this week, we will be featuring Sablefish or Black Cod as you may have seen on most Japanese menus. They are one and the same. This fish is quite oily which gives it its luxurious texture and is really well suited to a miso glaze which adds a little earthiness and sweetness. Here is a quick recipe that actually uses salmon but was first made famous with Black cod (sablefish). I will post it on our website, smallworldseafood.com as well.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSaKF6w22ho&t=224s

 

Also, we will be showcasing swordfish from up good friends up in Canada. These Nova Scotia swords are cleaner and creamier than swords that come from warmer waters. Those who have tried our sword already will attest to the fact that they never tasted sword so good. Well, yeah. Really fresh and from really cold waters. Better for sure.

 

Oysters this week will be coming from the Duxbury area of the Cape. These Standish Shores oysters are meaty and robust in flavor. It will be nice to contrast these Massachusetts babies to the PEIs we've been mainly featuring.

 

Mussels are back and, no worries, fresh salmon is here as well.

 

Lastly, let's talk smoked fish. Many of us have been shoving lots of smoked fish down our throats. My golden retriever, Schnitzel, has been so happy with the smoked salmon and trout. His coat is shimmering for sure. it can have that effect. In fact, I have noticed some of you even admiring the glistening of my eyebrows with an extra-long stare. With all the smoked fish I've been eating, they should be downright glowing.

 

Well, with the Jewish High Holidays coming up for the next couple of weeks, we will be offering several smoked products. We will be adding kippered salmon along with the smoked salmon, whitefish salad and smoked trout. I know this will initiate my wife's Hungarian Ashkenazi DNA to start  be pumping extra levels of dopamine through her frontal cortex. In other words, she'll be extra happy and that's all that matters. Hopefully it does the same for you regardless of where your DNA comes from.

 

Anyway, that's it from me for today. Look out for the order form on Thursday at 9am.

 

Best,

 

Robert Amar

Small World Seafood

Owner


 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

 

Small World Seafood Order Form Fit/Ritt/Wash Sq.

From: SMALL WORLD SEAFOOD
<smallworldseafood@gmail.com>

Date: Thu, Sep 17, 2020 at 8:53 AM
Subject: SMALL WORLD SEAFOOD ORDER FORM FIT/RITT/WASH SQ
To: 2SMALLWORLDSEAFOOD

GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY!!!

Well, one of the downsides of the week of a major holiday like Labor Day is that seafood is not abundant and there are many screw ups in the system because workers with seniority usually take the week off in order to take advantage of claiming less vacation days. The B team isn't as good so mess ups abound, i.e. the halibut from last week.

One of the great things about the week AFTER that is that all boats went out coming back with plenty of product but demand is low. So what does that mean for us? Cheaper fish with great quality. You can't beat that. So, swordfish this week will be $12lb instead of $16lb like last time. You are saving $8 on a 2lb bag. Also, sablefish, or Black Cod, is only $15lb instead of the $17lb like last time saving you $4 for a 2lb bag. That's pretty awesome!

Lots of newbies have joined so I just want to tell you all that all the fresh seafood freezes really well if you get a little extra. Just wrap in plastic film and you are good to go.

Along with these two specials, we've added a few more smoked items since the Jewish High Holidays are coming up for the next two weeks. Smoked trout is still available and so is kippered salmon. That, in addition to the whitefish salad and smoked salmon. Happy New Year to those celebrating from all of us.

Oysters are Standish Shores from Duxbury, Massachusetts and mussels are in vogue this week.

Anyway, I know everyone is busy with work and kids and who knows what so I will keep it short. Here is the order form. 

https://smallworldseafood.square.site/

See you tomorrow!
 
Robert Amar

Small World Seafood
Owner

Takeaways to Consider
• Obviously when (and if) Covid-19 eventually fades away, Amar can immediately revert wholesaling to restaurants again.

 

• But what of this retail business? Quite simply Robert loves it! “I’m meeting and talking to all kinds of people,” he gushes. “I listen. They tell me what I’m doing right and doing wrong. In this business, you have to listen.”

 

• Small World Seafood is not scalable, according to Robert. He does not have infrastructure and staff to take it throughout America’s sixth largest city with its 5.7 million population spread out over 141.7 miles. He’s pretty much maxed out.

 
• Robert Amar is truly a Renaissance Man. In the 50 years of making 
a living in direct marketing, I cannot recall knowing an individual 
who created a profitable direct marketing operation in six weeks 
with zero experience in the business.
 
• What’s more, in my 50 working years I cannot recall a business 
founded entirely on word-of-mouth advertising.
 
• Do you have a friend, family member or business colleague suddenly outta work for whatever reason? Is it "Alas... oh-woe-is-me time? What am I gonna do?" Forward this post. Okay, it's a niche business model. But I believe it's an inspiration that can fire up the creative juices and give a reason to jump out of bed in the early a.m. and...

       Don't lose your confidence if you slip,
       Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
       And pick yourself up,
       Dust yourself off,
       Start all over again.
            —Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern
 
Thank you.

###

Word Count: 2131
 

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At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.

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Denny Hatch
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dennyhatch@yahoo.com

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