2012 May: Big Splash

If you sell pizza, you’re a craftsman. Just as a painter, writer, architect or designer creates so, too, do you. It is your craftsmanship –– the long hours of perfecting your recipes so that your artisan pizza comes out of the oven perfect –– on which you have built a reputation and a business. And if everyone could taste what you taste, wow, they would love it as well. Marketing your pizzeria is easy –– you make an offer for a pepperoni pizza, maybe add an order of wings and a two-liter beverage and you have it! You’ve probably even seen that coupon from another pizzeria –– or maybe 10,000 other pizzerias! Still, if your pizzeria sells more than just a pepperoni or sausage pizza, you’ve got the opportunity to brand yourself as artisanal. Even though everyone seems to be churning out artisan pizzas, there is a BIG difference in how you market your brand, your craft and your artisan pizza.

True artisan pizza makers follow strict codes of quality assurance and that is where the marketing thought process begins. Take into consideration the freshest local ingredients, your hand-tossed dough, housemade sauce. These and other terms are the foundation of marketing your pizza because your guests identify those terms with quality products. Using other local Artisan products helps increase awareness in your pizza and brand. Rather than saying “Our buffalo chicken pizza has real blue cheese,” consider instead “ We use only the finest (brand name) tangy bleu cheese for our Buffalo Blues Signature Pizza.” Using the actual name of a local purveyor from which you buy gives your guests the confidence that your product is high quality and supports other local companies. Customers will go out of their way to taste these ingredients –– and pay a higher price for high quality products.

We have all heard that saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true! So it would make sense to show your guests what awaits them when they visit your location. Use good quality photos in high visibility locations on your menu and in your marketing materials. Remember that we are a visual society –– keep in mind that your end product should look exactly like the picture! This is where most advertisers fall short. Remember that you are a “craftsperson” and your guests will begin praising your products because the quality is there. Using key words like “artisan” or “craft” will help you market your pizzeria with great results as long as your product backs up those words. A great example of this is Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, who coined the phrase “Respect the Craft.” That is exactly what he does everyday in his restaurant by using the highest quality ingredients and old world traditions to create artisan pizza.

Marketing artisan pizza can be achieved through outlets other than print. Radio can be used with recorded interviews of guests at your restaurant enjoying your pizza, recorded live and then put into a radio spot. The listener is now hearing a “real” person praising your pizza. If you don’t have a gallery of photos online –– or at least photos with your menus –– then you are leaving a huge audience behind, especially in an era where social media is free and easy. This kind of marketing starts in your restaurant with simple table tents asking your guest to “like” your Facebook page or “follow” you on Twitter. I use a QR code that takes guests right to my site. They simply scan the code with their phone and suddenly I’m marketing artisan creations to almost every person that guest interacts with on Facebook or Twitter!

Marketing artisan pizza goes far beyond getting guests into your pizzeria. Remember that you are building your brand, and brand loyalty is so important in these competitive times. Plus, that loyalty will build your business foundation into a profitable restaurant, one that is known for it’s artisan pizza. Standing out from the crowd is the key to marketing any successful business. Make sure that every pizza your customer receives is the best you can make and your reputation will soar. Guests will spread the word like wild fire! After all, the best marketing tool you can use and the best social network is still word of mouth — and those results can only be achieved when you respect your craft.u

Glenn Cybulski owns California-based Seasons Pizzeria Sports Bar Grill. He is an award-winning member of the World Pizza Championships and a frequent speaker at International Pizza Expo.