Marketing Matters: Listen, learn, earn

Fresh Brothers birthday club

The venerable Benjamin Franklin is one of the most-quoted men in American history. His wisdom, it seems, still endures to this day. One of my favorite quotes by the statesman is this: “He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.”

In my case specifically, I needed a lot of help starting my business, so I listened to all the counsel I could get from consultants, peers and customers alike. Listening, in fact, is what led me to some of my best marketing experiences.

During my first year of business, a seasoned employee notified me that the Monday following Thanksgiving was an above average Monday. With several factors coming together (no school, hunting season, holiday season), it made sense to me. So I asked myself how I could make an already-good day into a great day. Our annual ‘Tired of Turkey’ promotion was born. To promote it, I used local newspaper advertising in conjunction with box toppers and posters.

I was able to make Monday sales turn into Friday sales by:

1) Making my own holiday;

2) Promoting a signature and profitable item;

3) Having fun with the community.

These principles have guided me through the years to other successful promotions.

Over time, as business grew, my old deck ovens could not keep up with demand — so we upgraded to conveyors. What am I capable of now? I decided to have a fundraiser for our chamber’s downtown beautification project. The goal was to sell 500 pizzas between 3 and 6 p.m. The offer was for a 16- inch pepperoni pizza priced at $5. The reward was to be a $500 donation to the project if the goal was met.

Since the general manager of the local radio station was on the board, we got the advertising donated. The station also did a three-hour live remote and offered many prize incentives to get people to buy a pizza and help their city. The chamber sent memos and newsletters about the promotion. I enlarged my regular newspaper ad, spending an extra $20 to have it run two days prior to the promotion and used box toppers for a week prior.

We achieved the goal and were able to see how well our new ovens performed. Business leaders in the community were especially thankful (and remain so, even to this day). We gained a lot of respect and fine-tuned our already good image as a result of this promotion. Most notably, we gained a lot of newfound customer loyalty.

Later that year I attended a conference and was introduced to the concept of e-mail marketing. How do you build a database? I decided to celebrate Fox’s 30th anniversary. For the occasion I obtained a copy of a Fox’s 1971 menu and rolled back prices. Customers had to go to the Web site and fill out a form, which bounced back to them a coupon to purchase a medium cheese pizza at the 1971 price of $1.40.

Press releases were sent to the local newspaper and radio station that mentioned the 1-day sale, along with the store’s history. I also did in-house promotions. Most notably, I purchased absolutely no advertising for this occasion. Sales jumped 5 percent and I built a priceless database overnight. And because e-mail is so cheap and effective, I was able to cut my marketing costs by eliminating $6,000 in what I refer to as ‘Spray & Pray’ advertising. (I later gained national recognition for this tactic, by the way).

Bottom line: listen and learn to earn.

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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