What is Suspense Marketing? An Old, Successful Tactic is New Again!

by | Oct 29, 2021 | 0 comments

Modern marketing, like old, suspense marketing, is emotional marketing!

Nico DiGoddi ran a grocery store in the neighborhood where I grew up. Everyone in the neighborhood shopped at DiGoddi’s and everyone called him by his surname.

DiGoddi styled Italian store

DiGoddi lived in a small apartment behind his store with his aging mother — there was no Mrs. D.  The store was small but a mecca of Italian foods piled high. Barrels of olives to umpteen varieties of pasta and oils, along with produce, can goods, cheeses, meats, and baked goods. DiGoddi’s was always busy. 

I was about 10 and I shopped at DiGoddi’s regularly. Making purchases for my mother, aunt, and grandmother. Enter the ‘DiGoddi Method’, which marketing experts now term mystery or suspense marketing.

The Scenario

One day, there was a buzz in the neighborhood. DiGoddi had just returned from his annual August visit to “the old country” and brought back a giant Provolone cheese. Without hesitation, I raced to the store, I was in awe. Right in the front window was a Provolone, 6ft. high x 3ft. in diameter with a thick white cord wrapped around it. WOW!

No one knew as to the fate of ‘the cheese’ – it was now mid-October. Suddenly, he announced that ‘the cheese’ was going to be pre-sold in 5 lb. increments only.


Marketing At Its Best

DiGoddi was a master at suspense marketing. He knew that if he had cut ‘the cheese’ right-off and sold it in one-pound pieces it would have taken weeks and weeks to sell and perhaps much would have gone to waste. Instead, he played on the mystery and suspense, the exclusivity — he created the desire! Result, he sold the whole cheese before it was cut!

I was there the day DiGoddi cut ‘the cheese’. It was a Saturday morning in early December and he was in great form, weighing out 5, 10, and 15-pound pieces at a time. Customers filled the store with a line going down the block. They were not only picking up ‘their’ cheese but purchasing lots of other items needed for the upcoming Holidays. DiGoddi had planned it that way.

Suspense Marketing Today

The hint, the rumor, the exclusive, the first-to-have, the bespoke — these are the buzzwords used in marketing circles today when a product or service is introduced, a sales event is planned, or a new company or product is launched.

Sneak previews and lures via email, blog posts, social media marketing, and influencers — these are the new ‘cheese’ that DiGoddi used years ago — and it works.

Categories: Marketing

By Jim Lavorato

Jim Lavorato is the founder of 4M Performance which is designed to assist businesses to survive and thrive in these uncertain times. Jim launched an entertainment-related company in 1988. He was at the forefront in cinema technology and helped spearhead the movie industry's transition to digital presentation and distribution. He also co-founded the Arboreal Group, an environmental consultancy. He has published articles on the motion picture and media industries and is a contributing editor for ScreenTrade magazine and writes a blog "Cinema Mucho Gusto". He is a certified SCORE Mentor in the SCORE Greater Phoenix Chapter and lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more about Jim in his "About" page.

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