Written by: Frank Iacono
Despite her petite stature, Denise DiNorscia Williams has been described as a powerhouse and a one-woman work force. To illustrate, Denise is the Director of Strategic Marketing and New Biz Development for Goodman Marketing Partners, Chief Innovation Officer of a home-based e-commerce retail bakery, and serves as Internship Chair and Liaison to the Advisory Council for the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association (PDMA). And, on top of that, she is the mother of a teenager, a wife and a volunteer for causes close to her heart.
Denise began her marketing career in 1988 and has enjoyed the client-side marketing experience at large financial institutions like CIGNA, CNA, and AON Corporation. Moving to the agency side in 1997 and recruited by some of the top Direct Response professionals in the industry, Denise has worked in account management and business development at big names like Devon Direct Euro RSCG and DMW Worldwide.
In 2002, Denise launched BellaPizzelle, the beautiful cookie company, along with her mother, Lucy. She primarily established the company because she wanted people to know that there’s a fresh, authentic alternative to the mass-produced Italian cookies known as pizzelles.
Over the years, BellaPizzelle has appeared on CBS 3 Philadelphia with Pat Ciarrocchi (video shown below), Good Day Fox Philly, Good Day Sacramento, CBS Morning News, Port Arthur, TX News, and in the Burlington County Times, Charleston Daily, Philadelphia City Paper, Reading Eagle, Baltimore Register, Women’s Day magazine, Philadelphia Business Journal, and more…
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of catching up with my friend and colleague to ask her a few questions about her passion for business, her career goals, her company, and of course her handmade authentic Italian pizzelles.
CS: How did you come up with the company name of BellaPizzelle and what is the meaning behind it?
BellaPizzelle is a name I came up with – literally at 3 in the morning one day back in the year 2000. It means “beautiful cookie” – and that’s what we create!
CS: Who or what inspired you to create the company?
Well first, I thought about multiple streams of revenue. (I must have heard it from a seminar or some article I read.) I always had an entrepreneurial spirit like my father, but I have my mom’s interest in creating delicious food. Add to that my mom’s desire to do something “productive” at age 76 and into retirement. So at 3 a.m. BellaPizzelle was born.
CS: How long have you been in business and how many people work for the company?
We launched the business in 2002 with a website, mom’s kitchen, a couple of bowls, 2 pizzelle irons, and ingredients. In those early days we collected orders throughout the week and baked on Saturdays. We packaged in her dining room and shipped via FedEx with a pick-up the following Monday. It started out with just mom and me. Today we have up to 6 at any given time, usually my husband, my daughter, and a couple of my sisters.
CS: Are your cookie recipes family recipes?
Kind of. We took my paternal grandmother’s recipe and spruced it up. We also add a shot of whiskey or Frangelica, an herb-flavored liqueur, if requested for an additional $2.50.
CS: Do any of your cookies bring back family memories and stories? If so, can you please share some of the stories with us?
The stories have to do with eating at my grandmother’s as a child. In those days, family met often – including all the cousins – on holidays and Sundays. There would always be a tin of pizzelles in the house. Us kids longed for Fig Newtons, Oreos, you know…American cookies. But instead we ate pizzelle, biscotti, fiadone, caggionetti. It does bring back memories of warm family ties, big bowls of pasta and everyone at the long table smoking cigarettes.
CS: Where is BellaPizzelle located and what specific geographic areas do you serve?
Our bakery is located in our home, built to specification by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and we ship all over the world.
CS: What are your days and hours of operation?
We are a 24/7/365 business.
CS: Do your customers include both residential and commercial customers?
Yes, BellaPizzelle includes both residential and commercial customers.
CS: Can you describe your average customer (i.e., location, age, income, likes and dislikes)?
Our average customers are middle aged women and men who grew up eating pizzelles, had a neighbor who made pizzelles, or who definitely doesn’t want to make pizzelles themselves. My customers love these authentic cookies and will pay the high-end price for a gourmet cookie.
CS: What types of products do you have available for purchase?
Pizzelles and pizzelle scented candles featuring the following options:
- Select Original BellaPizzelles
- Anise BellaPizzelles
- Chocolate BellaPizzelles
- Sampler BellaPizzelles – (4 delicious BellPizzelles)
- Care Package – A Short Stack of BellaPizzelles and a scented candle in Vanilla, Anise or Chocolate, (1) dozen biscotti, (1) brick of LavAzza coffee, a FREE history of the pizzelle, and a FREE hand-written gift card.
- Friends Package – Two short stacks of BellaPizzelles (20 Original & 20 Anise) a FREE history of the pizzelle, and a FREE hand-written gift card.
- Corporate Package – Two tall stacks of BellaPizzelles, 24 BellaBiscotti, a FREE history of the pizzelle, and a FREE hand-written gift card.
- Sweetheart Package – Two tall stacks of BellaPizzelles (34 Original & 34 Anise) a FREE history of the pizzelle, and a FREE hand-written gift card in bright red tubes.
CS: What products are considered your bestsellers?
Our bestseller is the Select Original BellaPizzelle with vanilla flavor and a shot.
CS: I recently noticed that you started marketing puppy pizzelles how did that come about?
We rescue Great Danes. Have you ever fed two Great Danes twice a day? I decided to make my own dog biscuits after I looked at the monthly spend. When I read through an organic dog treat book, I experimented with the batter and the mini pizzelle irons. Voila! They looked perfect and tasted great. And they are Great Dane approved.
CS: Are you currently working on adding any new products?
Not at this time – we are working on building a new website (currently in its 4th iteration) to keep up with technology advances and social outlets.
CS: Can you describe your package and shipping procedure?
My packaging reflects my brand. It is gold foil covered cardboard, circular tubes to reflect a round golden pizzelle. We double bag the stacks and use bubble wrap generously. They can’t break. Shipping is always trackable.
CS: What separates your products from your competition?
No one makes a pizzelle like BellaPizzelle. No one packages and ships like we do – and no one is really doing it. Do you know of anyone? We compete in the gift market primarily. But the Harry & David and popcorn companies like The Popcorn Factory have become very generic. And not very good.
CS: Do you provide any special packages for holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc…? If so, please explain.
Nothing specific, however, we did supply pizzelles for two big weddings in the last couple years. One bride had her rings carried on a pizzelle and the photography was magnificent!!!
CS: Do you offer satisfaction guarantees?
Yes, BellaPizzelle has a satisfaction money back guarantee but we’ve never had to use it.
CS: Have you embraced customer reviews and testimonials?
Yes, but there are so many I need a secretary to keep up. To read a long list of satisfied customers that have ordered BellaPizzelles, go to our Testimonials page.
CS: How you do handle difficult customers?
I don’t really have anyone who is difficult. I have picky customers – which is fine. That’s why they choose BellaPizzelle.
CS: What is the best and worst part of being an owner of a business?
The best part is the fact that I created a brand that is growing in both customer base and customer satisfaction. The worst part would be thinking that I have to do it all – be the head chef, the marketer, the financial person, the fulfillment/ operations lead, and webmaster.
CS: Are you a member of any local businesses or organizations?
Yes, I am a member of marketing associations such as the:
- American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
- Business Marketing Association (BMA)
- Center City Proprietors Association (CCPA)
- Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association (PDMA)
CS: How do you market your business (i.e. conducting advertising such as direct mail, email marketing, website, and more traditional avenues like customer referrals)?
BellaPizzelle has marketed the business through direct mail, dimensional mail, email and search marketing, banner advertising, sponsorships, and hands down word of mouth has been best.
CS: What is your website address and what can your customers and prospective see or do on your site?
The website address is http://www.bellapizzelle.com/ and our customers and prospective customers can learn more about the company and our products, shop online, view our photo gallery and videos, and connect with us on social media.
CS: On your website, I noticed that you’ve been mentioned on FOX Good Day Philadelphia, been interviewed by Lorraine Ranalli, the host of Cucina Chatter on WWDB AM, and appeared on 1400 AM – Philly with Ed Hitzel so tell us how did those and other article-based opportunities arise for BellaPizzelle?
I hired a PR firm to help me get my name and samples out to news outlets. Lorraine and I are friends and I sponsored her book Gravy Wars. She is a PR guru and connected me with Ed Hitzel and interviewed me on Cucina Chatter.
CS: Have you embraced Social Media to promote your business (i.e. Facebook or Twitter. Yes/No how and why)?
So far BellaPizzelle has embraced Facebook and Twitter because I can connect them together, driving interest in food, healthy tips and BellaPizzelle kitchen happenings on both with photos in Facebook. With Twitter, I am always looking for people who are foodies, Italians, affiliate Italian goods like wines and cheeses and see what feeds are happening. Then I communicate with folks based on the subject matter. “Likes” and “Followers” grow and offer relevant content to people which is rewarding and generates sales. Staying top of mind is the key. We also have a YouTube page as well as a blog entitled Hot Off The Iron.
CS: What is the best way to contact your company to purchase your delicious cookies?
The best ways to reach us is through our website and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our address is as follows:
Morgantown, PA 19543
CS: Do you offer specials, coupons or free shipping for certain purchases?
Sometimes – there’s no assembly line where discounts are applicable or free shipping is a bonus for us. It may draw more business, but we lose money since it’s such a manual process and labor intensive. We do special offers, but in driving business outside normal holiday peaks.
CS: Is there talk of expansion for the company?
No. For now, we keep it small, manageable, and family run. It’s a great time to come together for us and fulfill orders together. I would be interested in selling to a company who could scale it and drive business from grocery chains that we’ve had to turn down.
CS: Do you think our world would be different if cookies were never invented? If so, why?
Of course. Mothers and daughter baking cookies is like apple pie. It’s one of the first things you learn to do. With all the varieties of cookies in the world, one thing is for sure. We can’t live without them. The trick is to make them commercially but not to let them taste commercial – ever. That’s what happened to all the folks who started their brownie companies and chocolate chip cookies….major manufacturing killed the cookie – well it did for us foodies. It needs to be produced in volume, but it can never taste like it. The homemade taste and freshness of a round delicious pizzelle is what makes the world go round.
CS: In your opinion, what makes the perfect cookie?
You can’t buy it just anywhere. It is versatile in that you can eat with drizzled chocolate, on a cheese and fruit tray, topped with ricotta cheese, fill two with gelato/ ice cream, top with jam, or eat them plain. How many cookies can you do that with?
Why Should You Place An Order From BellaPizzelle
Remember, pizzelle cookies aren’t just for holidays. (Of course they do compliment your sweets table at holiday time.) Sending BellaPizzelle cookies is saying you really care about the recipient. When you send something else like those meat sticks, cheese with no expiration date, popcorn and general “miscellaneous” stuff, you’re actually saying “convenient.” They want your recipients to rave — so keep them in mind for “anytime” gifts and delight anyone who appreciates this authentic Italian specialty.
BellaPizzelle cookies are handmade to order, with no preservatives or any of that funny stuff that some people use. They taste homemade, because they are. BellaPizzelles are made two at a time, in a gourmet kitchen, using authentic polished metal irons. You may place your order 24/7/365.
BellaPizzelle bakes within 48 hours of receipt of your order and ships. They pledge to deliver the best-tasting pizzelles, handmade to order by real Italians — fresh from their kitchen to yours. Guaranteed or your money back.
BellaPizzelle promises…one bite and you’re hooked!
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.