Marketing Matters: Community Engagement

Are you a team player or do you just talk a good game? Pizzerias have found that being involved with local sports is a way to score with the community.

Today’s world takes effort to keep young people on the right track, and participation in extracur­ricular activities gets them off the couch and teaches them many valuable life lessons. First & Ten clubs, Band Parent Associations, Little leagues … organi­zations of this ilk all need to earn money to make sports fun and interesting. A senior jersey for a high school football player can cost $75. It took an extra $800 to provide the necessary refreshments for a 2-week varsity football camp. Banquets, trophies and trips are usually not budgeted for by a school district. These non-profit groups need a partner to help finance these significant items.

Can you “step up to the plate” and be a friend to programs like these? Can you do this and still run a profitable business? Yes! This falls within the “Local Store Marketing” category. Assisting groups to raise money will raise money for you, too. This aspect goes beyond a donation or sponsorship and forms a solid symbiotic relationship.

What are the benefits? The obvious one is an increase in sales. During fall months when I do the majority of my concession sales, for example, that extra few hundred dollars a week is icing on the cake. As I generate goodwill, people talk. Soccer moms tend to have more than one child, and the children are often involved in more than one activ­ity. Your concession sales will have a snowball effect. While you usually have to offer special pricing for concession sales, never view this as a discount — these are marketing dollars spent wisely. No matter what price you charge, the group will charge more, so the perceived value of your product is never questioned. As your product is featured at events you gain top of mind awareness. You also get new people trying your pizza and liking it. The goodwill generates new and loyal customers. For my pizzeria this has become a long-term strategy. During my 18 years in business I have watched as young peo­ple “grow up” on my pizza and then come back as adults to feed their families.

How do you get in the game? First, be seen in your community by attending events. Get to know your customers and your employees. Ask yourself what they and their families are involved in.

By utilizing your existing circle of associates, you can connect with the decision maker of the group and get your foot in the door of concession stands. A locally owned and operated pizzeria will have the home field advantage. Once you develop a competi­tive pricing structure that is mutually beneficial, you need to back it up with service that shows you value this relationship. Sporting events can be time sensi­tive, so focus on making sure each order is punctual and accurate.

This could help put you in a league of your own.

Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punx­sutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.

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