The Marketing Dilemma – feedback needed!

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

First – headlines from this week in Sabi.

Sabi Makes its First $1Pretty monumental for us. Outside of prize money that we’ve won for talking about our business, this was the first time we earned money for actually doing it. A catering for a 150-person law firm downtown. We got the job by giving away free sushi (while testing our menu) in the kitchen we work out of. It pays to be nice.

Launch in T-Minus 2 days – Needless to say, we’re feeling calm, relaxed, and overly prepared…

Record crushing blog hits – We’ve had over 1,200 people read the blog over the past 48hrs. Pretty awesome, you guys are great, and seeing/hearing the reactions to our launch just gives us more momentum & motivation to work harder. Every comment you guys leave us (you can do so by clicking the little bubble with a # inside it on the top right of the page) – is fuel to the fire.

And now to today’s post. There have been three overwhelming reactions to the Pivot, and the video about our pre-launch activities :

1. I would never order (trust) delivery sushi”

2. “cool idea, but I think you’re going to have a really hard time trying to get people to know who the heck you are, since you don’t have a physical storefront

3. great idea!”, “best of luck!!”, “unlimited potential to change the restaurant industry!” “thank god you guys are finally opening“, “wow, you guys are really good looking” (ok, I made that last one up)

This of course was nothing new. Hell, we wouldn’t order delivery sushi ourselves. With Styrofoam packaging, questionable freshness, and poor value – there’s no reason to!

Here’s what we do know, our sushi is delicious. We get all our fish fresh every single day. (that means NO fish from yesterday. Which is a pretty powerful point that I challenge any sushi restaurant to match.)

Which basically means, if we can get people to try our food, and hear us out, we’ve got a chance to actually make this thing special. This is where you come in (you blog reading legend, you). We’re trying to come up with the first series of marketing campaigns we’re going to run in Denver. We’ve come up with a few possibilities centering around a few messages…(below) – each campaign would have a several pronged attack, posters, videos, guerilla stunts, and PR (trust me, we sit around and think of this shit all the time) – each would be fun and cool, but we want to first choose two messages that we’ll focus on and repeat. One message will be an overarching campaign, and the other will be a more niche campaign around one “hesitation point” that would prevent customers from trying it for the first time. I won’t explain each in detail, because I just want to get feedback from the most simple/basic look at each message (since that’s how customers would see it).

The Marketing Campaign Possibilities

1. The “Bringing Fresh Back to Denver” Campaign

2. The “Boxed Sushi is disgusting.” style message

3. The “Restaurant Without a Restaurant” campaign

4. The Damn that looks High Quality campaign

What do you guys think! Let us know, drop a comment with your opinion (you can even do it anonymously) by clicking the little speech bubble in the top right corner of the post.

All credit on the posters go to Trevor, the self-taught Doctor of Photoshop. He started on a 5 year old Dell laptop that barely could support Solitaire (let alone Photoshop) with one goal : create cool shit.


  1. Anonymous says:

    love the shelf life one!

  2. anonymous says:

    I like all but #3. People are not interested in numbers (even though you are trying to make the point that you can spend more on food if you don’t have so much overhead).

    I especially liked #2 (boxed sushi). A picture is worth a thousand words…

  3. Steve says:

    2 and 4 are best to me. Good luck Sam.
    via facebook

  4. Stacy says:

    I think #3 is good for explaining the advantages of your concept for business purposes, but not really as consumer-facing messaging.

    I love #2 and would maybe add the “bringing fresh back to denver” tagline to that image. Overall, though, I think #4 might be the best if you are targeting the business crowd. Both #2 and #4 are great and could be used for different purposes (#2 for the guerrilla marketing aspect and #4 for more general marketing).

    Great work on these! 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    #4 makes me want to order it tonight!

  6. i really like the first two! though, if there’s a way to avoid cutting off the left-side bracket on #1 it would have a better impact. #2 reminds me a little bit of an MTV show promo spot — so caught my attention in a of pop culture way, in addition to the actual message.

    echo the above thoughts on #3. i’m a math major and even i don’t find numbers tasty.

    #4 — but to be honest, it makes me think ‘cheesy stock photo’ and the words don’t jump out at me as much as the background picture.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love 1,2, and 4. the phrase “bringing fresh back to Denver seems like it would work well with that picture too. Of them all 1 and 4 are my favorites.

  8. Anonymous says:

    LOVE #1 and #4….in that order

  9. Anonymous says:

    Shaan – I just want to say how awesome I think this idea is. Who would have thought 5 years after graduating from ‘Ridge, you’d be on a journey like this! Congrats brother…I wish you all the best and the next time I am in Denver, you’ll be my first meal!

    PS – #2 has the most effective message

  10. Darsizzle says:

    I think #1 and #4 are definitely the best. The other two don’t leave the audience with a good fresh, excited feeling, which is what you are going for, I think, with this restaurant concept. I think #1 is best because of the mystery element, but I also think it could use a little more info about what sabisushi is. The “bringing fresh back to denver” concept is something I think can be built on in a clever, cool way. #4 is good, the safest, and most descriptive.

  11. Anonymous says:

    #4 and #1

    Also, nice job with the pivot. Awesome to see you guys actually serving some sushi to customers. If I ever make it out to Denver I’m going to eat enough Sabi keep me full for a week!

  12. LP says:

    #2. with #4 as my other favorite.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I like the 1,2,4 …….Now even I want to try to your Sushi….Keep up the good work

  14. Lori Carlson says:

    I like #1 for glitz, and #2 for shock grab-your attention…4 is too normal…3 just not showy enough, even though the numbers tell the story that we followers “get” …good luck!

  15. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth: I agree I’m a numbers person but 3 is boring. I don’t like #2 since it doesn’t look appetizing and your associating it with your name. I like #1 and #4 the best…. would Denver natives find offence to having been accused of “losing the fresh”? So with that said I guess I like #4 the best – wouldn’t offend anyone and presents Sabi in a “Positive” note.

  16. Steph F says:

    I think #2 is funny and catchy. good luck guys!

  17. Shaan says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone! you guys just saved us a night of debating, it sounds like #1, #2, and #4 are all winners!

    (damn – #3 sounded like such a good idea in our head too…maybe it just needs to be re-executed…or maybe it only is interesting to us because we’re dealing with those finances on a daily basis)

  18. Samara says:

    I like 3 & 4 best. 2 makes a great point, but I’d like to NOT think about gross sushi when being encouraged to buy sushi. And 1 may offend your Denver restaurant colleagues, kind of like on Food Network when one of the contestants said in front of Giada & Bobby that her tagline was “Bringing Sexy Back into the Kitchen.” -My 2cents – Good luck guys!
    via facebook.

  19. Anonymous says:

    4 is the only real susi image….you grab peoples attention in 4.5 seconds….a picture says a thousand words……

  20. Anonymous says:

    Find strong corporate partners. If you can get a few office buildings to love your sushi, “sabi lunches” will become normal.

    How long are you going to be working on this project?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Stick with the Restaurant without a Restaurant, with a URL…makes people wonder and go to your website (half the battle). “Bringing freshness to you”….is good
    Drop the Food network chef….he’s a Great Chef, Talented Chef, world renown….I’m not questioning his talent, being on Food network is not what makes him or the food great.

  22. Anonymous says:

    #2 is the message you want. Simple, unpretentious, truthful.

  23. Kristine says:

    I like #2 and #4!!! 🙂

    #1 looks nice but it doesn’t really make you think of food/hunger. Definitely choose one showing sushi.

  24. G's dad says:

    #3 appeals to people that like GREAT food and like numbers to back up their choice! Great!
    Also #1 makes me want to TRY YOUR SUSHI this Friday!!!
    ( enjoyed Sabi Sushi last week !!!!!!!!!)
    Sabi Sushi…the #1 cloud restaurant !!!
    G’s dad

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