Photos by Josh Keown
The Greek poet Euripides said: “One loyal friend is worth 10,000 relatives.” Think about the truthfulness of that statement. Friendship is a relationship we are not born into but still choose to cherish. In the hospitality industry, we form relationships with our customers and treat them like dear friends. We reach out, listen and react to their needs in a sensitive manner. In time we win them over as a friend and loyal fan, not just an acquaintance. This relationship like all others must be nurtured.
The fact of the matter is that: u 66 percent of adults surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said they’d be more likely to patronize restaurants offering customer loyalty and reward programs. u The restaurant industry is poised for growth as 40 percent of adults surveyed said they are not using restaurant services as much as they’d like. u It costs between eight and 10 times more to attract new customers as it does to keep existing customers coming back.
It stands to reason that focusing on a fan club or loyalty marketing is a great tool to increase customer loyalty, spread positive word of mouth and improve customer satisfaction. It also gives you a competitive edge, as the NRA reports that only about 30 percent of restaurants use such a program.
Why are so many restaurants not using loyalty marketing? Many programs are set up to only incentivize the next sale but not with thought to bringing benefits to both parties involved. For example, you build a fan club, and then send them all the same offer — $2 off a large pizza. Aren’t these people the ones who were already buying that pizza at full price? You got them to come back and spend less! Jay Siff of Moving Targets adds: “While I do agree with having a club to help keep your customers loyal, I believe a business needs to think very carefully before they commit to starting a program that constantly gives discounts to their customers. In addition, having to keep track of people’s points, etc. can be cumbersome. And how do you ever end such a program without upsetting customers?”
Manny & Olga’s Pizza, a 15-unit chain located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, has successfully built their fan club. “It’s a good way to have a closer connection to your customers and gives you an extra edge in the pizza wars when the customer is choosing who to buy from,” says Haralambos Athanasakis, president of Manny & Olga’s Pizza Systems Inc. To keep his edge, Athanasakis advises operators to be consistent and make offers appealing to your customers — not take a one-size-fits-all approach.
When customers opt in to fan clubs, operators have the opportunity to gather information such as birthdays, the anniversary of their first order, menu preferences, favorite sports teams etc., Operators can then be specific in your marketing. While Athanasakis could do this himself, he advises against that — at least initially. “Don’t do it yourself in the beginning,” he says. “Get a company to do it for you to get a feel for it, and then you make a decision what is good for you.” A dedicated company can help you to create a professional branded design template and coach you on offers and copy that get results. They also have resources to help you collect information needed for your database, such as adding online registration forms to join a club or sign-up sheets for in-store use. Reports provided by the service can help you determine the appropriate frequency for sending out messages to your fans.
Fan clubs allow you to do more than make a financial transaction. A good friend of mine made me some cinnamon rolls and when she packaged them up, she included a family newsletter. As I ate my cinnamon rolls, I read the newsletter and felt all good inside. Why? She made me feel special and she made me want to reciprocate. I loved the cinnamon rolls and her newsletter let me know of the new business she was starting — Grandma’s Doggie Day Care. The cinnamon rolls got my attention, the newsletter bonded us, and I will now always think of her when I need a dog-sitter. Your fan club can work the same. Today, I received an e-mail from Tutta Bella in Washington. They introduced a new pizza and made an offer for me to try it. They also paired it with a wine. And to seal the deal, their executive chef told a love story of when he first tasted this particular pizza in Naples. Fan Clubs utilized in such a way can get customers to try new things and to up-sell them on other complimentary products. This helps to give them a reason to increase their frequency to your establishment and raises the check average.
Athanasakis follows the same path, “We send out mostly coupons or offers two times a month and announcements, new menus items, stores openings, etc. We try to keep it fresh with new and rotating coupons.” He is able to track effectiveness through a monthly report of how many were sent out and how many were opened all the way through. A POS system makes it easy to track who is eating at your restaurant, when and how often. “Let the business decide who, how and when they want to offer rewards,” Siff adds. “And in behavioral psychology, it’s recognized that variable reinforcement is more effective than constant reinforcement. So the customers feel special for joining but the business controls the rest.”
Recall the old German saying: “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.” With loyalty marketing they will be eating and singing right out of your hand. u
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and a marketing consultant in the pizza industry. He is a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.
On October 7, you will be a businessman and a philanthropist, and your sincerity for the cause is essential. Consumers love it when their local businesses get involved and give freely. And, remember, the cause here is twofold — to battle breast cancer and to unite the pizza industry and show the world just how giving and caring we are.
We want our donations to make a difference, but we also want to be able to promote our involvement without a lot of overhead. If we play our cards right, we’ll not only do a great thing for society, but we’ll also be able to draw on the goodwill of our communities. When our neighbors see how giving and connected we are, they’ll want to thank us by patronizing our pizzerias. It’s a win-win!
Here are a few tips to help you promote Slice of Hope in your community without taking on prohibitive PR expenses:
• Show your sincerity. Let your customers know that you are passionate about the cause, and tell them why Slice of Hope means something to you.
Here is what I was told about Slice of Hope by a few pizzeria owners that I talked with recently:
“Once I saw the article in Pizza Today, about Slice of Hope and it being national pizza month, along with breast cancer awareness month, I saw that it was necessary to join the Slice of Hope program to help in any way possible to contribute to such a great cause. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to honor her in some way.”
— Thomas W. Barrett, Owner, Tommy’s Pizza & Family Restaurant in Hertford, North Carolina.
“We are a new restaurant and my husband and I have both had breast cancer. Early detection is key. We will donate 20 percent of sales to the event.” — Patty Stump, Westshore Pizza, Mason, Ohio.
“My family has been fortunate to be unaffected by this tragic disease. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Being a woman, maybe I’m biased, but I think most women put taking care of everyone else as their priority. I want them to know that this time, they can’t. Early detection gives a 98 percent five-year survival rate — that’s huge!” — Danielle Burger, Co-Owner / Manager, Wally’s Pizza and Subs, Carson City, Nevada.
• Get the word out. Make a list of your local media outlets (newspapers, TV, radio, newsletters, church bulletins, social media). If you have filled out a Slice of Hope pledge form, then you will soon (or may have already) be receiving a press release that you can send to these outlets. All you have to do is customize it by adding your name in a few spots and updating the quote, then it’s ready to roll.
Don’t forget to invite the media to stop in to your “pizza party” on October 7th.
• Do something unique in-house. One idea would be to purchase Slice of Hope t-shirts (available at PizzaToday.com or by calling 800-489-8324) for your staff to wear on October 7. You could even purchase extra shirts and offer them for sale to your customers.
Beyond that, consider creating a special “Slice of Hope” pizza or menu item. Stump, for example, says she will be selling pink cupcakes. She also intends to set up a donation jar in case her customers want to give to the cause. Out west in Tacoma, Washington, Farrelli’s Wood-Fire Pizza is also accepting customer donations. Beyond that, the company is going to menu a Slice of Hope pizza for 2 to 4 weeks and donate $10 from the sale of each pizza to the Karen Mullen Breast
Personally, at my Fox’s Pizza Den in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, I will be creating radio spots using a customer who is also a breast cancer survivor. She’ll serve as a spokeswoman and encourage people to support the event.
Stump says she’ll use box toppers to saturate her market, while Barrett is going to pre-sell coupons for his featured menu item and will use in-house flyers and signage to create awareness of the upcoming event. Adds Burger: “We will, of course, be posting to Facebook, Twitter, our Web site and the specials board in our restaurant.”
• Can you cross-promote? Are there other like-minded businesses that would like to be involved? A medical supply company, insurance agency or fitness center, perhaps? Perhaps they’d like to make a donation to the charity in exchange for putting their logo on your Slice of Hope box topper? The more local businesses you can enlist, the more this feels like a local community event.
Lastly, don’t forget to be on top of your game with your food and service. On October 7, you’ll expose a multitude of potential new customers to your product. If the quality is high and the service is good, you’ll convert them to regulars. Buying from you will make them feel good. But you have to execute operationally to convert them.
One way to do this might be to streamline your menu for the day. Or feature a particular item, which benefits Slice of Hope, in an effort to keep things simple for your make-line.
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.
Years ago I realized that my employees were one of my most valuable assets, both in my operations and marketing. Although I can be a savvy businessman, I couldn’t execute my strategies without good people behind me. Once I had acquired such a crew I needed to reward them and show my appreciation for their hard work.
After considering the musings of guerilla marketers, I realized that I was not alone in this query. The thoughts of cross-promotion, networking, trade and referrals kept reappearing. It was time to combine these elements into a marketing tactic of my own and implement it.
If I could trade gift certificates with a local retailer I could have a gift/reward to present to my valued employees. The perceived value would be at least triple of what I had paid (food cost) for their gift certificate. My gift certificates would be presented to another retailer’s staff, thus opening additional databases of potentially new customers. Best of all, the fact that their bosses were presenting the certificates gives me added credibility and implied testimonial.
Four years ago I composed the attached letter and sent it out to several retailers at my local area of commerce, choosing ones who had products my employees would want and that had a staff that I wanted as customers. As I composed the letter I realized that not only was I rewarding my employees and marketing my business, but I was helping to unite the retailers of a small town to support the local economy and thus support themselves.
What kinds of businesses did I target?
• Grocery Stores
• Department Stores
• Restaurants – Fast Food and Mom & Pop’s
• Theaters • Dry Cleaners
• Radio Stations – They have a stacked prize closet and they talk
• Gift Shops
• Local Avon Representative
You get the picture; I got the response. I can now present my employee’s with a basket full of gift certificates that I may have paid 30 cents on the dollar for. The value in their eyes is that they know they are appreciated and they have the spending power to prove it. They have gained bragging rights over their contemporaries, none of whom receive such a valuable bonus. Most importantly, they have the motivation to remain productive. I have now established a good rapport with surrounding retailers. Would-be competitors now view us as a friend and community leader. I have gained Top Of Mind Awareness in my trading area. Staff members of other businesses are now sampling my product and becoming regular customers (in turn, my employees now patronize them as well).
The investment in such a program is minimal — food cost and printing gift certificates. The return is pronounced; happy, motivated employees, new customers, positive image in the business community, free distribution of my message and a very credible testimonial to my product. .
Photos by Josh Keown
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.
Return on Investment
It's all about ROI and how to maximize it
BY SCOTT ANTHONY
PHOTOS BY JOSH KEOWN
Wait, what? How so?
Allow me to explain: many companies spend countless dollars marketing a sub-par product and mediocre service. But if you promote a ‘dog’ more people will know it’s a ‘dog’ no matter how it is portrayed. Marketing campaigns are important, but they can backfire if your staff isn’t trained to provide exemplary service. And, even if your staff is trained to provide great service, if they aren’t trained to sell effectively, your marketing ROI isn’t living up to its potential.
When (and only when) your restaurant is running at the optimal level of service, you can then let loose great marketing. Until then, it makes no sense to attract more guests into a restaurant that doesn’t wow the customer. The best scenario? Fix the product, make it outstanding, then market it. You can implement numerous marketing strategies such as TV or radio ads, newspaper coupons or signage. These external methods, however, aren’t nearly as important as what you do internally to get guests coming back.
The biggest asset in business is relationships (better than cash because they can be turned into cash over and over again). It’s a new era in restaurant business, the era of Relationship Marketing. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, do it now.
Mag Retelewski, president and founder of Clarteza, a Chicago-based marketing consulting company, says, “The way a consumer experiences each marketing element has changed dramatically, especially in the areas of promotion, communication and advertising. The consumer is in the driver’s seat, and brands and services, including restaurant businesses, are switching from a ‘monologue’ with consumers, to a ‘dialogue’ where consumers directly engage with a brand or a product and collectively influence the overall state of consumer perception. Restaurant reviews on Twitter, Facebook or simply through word of mouth can make or break your restaurant, so treat your customers right and they will reward you; if not, they can break you.”
In this regard, our ROI is measured by the positive or negative buzz created by our restaurant. We must be invested in this relationship with the consumer to keep the buzz positive, respond to complaints, answer questions, address dietary concerns, tell your story and have the consumer embrace your culture. The No. 1 reason people will not come back to your restaurant is because they have encountered an attitude of indifference or unconcern by one or more employees. This accounts for 68 percent of why any restaurant will lose business. This is an issue that you can attend to by training on hospitality and the idea that the customer comes first! Build a relationship, boost your ROI.
We have heard it said time and again: ‘You get out what you put in.’ The National Restaurant Association reports that 52 percent of adults are likely to make a restaurant choice based on how much a restaurant supports charitable activities and the local community.
Retelewski adds: “Investigate the possibility of participating in an interesting event or promotion, something tied back to the community which can create some ‘buzz’ around your restaurant business that your customers will care about. Again, it’s about a bigger meaning and creating a conversation.”
Note this recent comment on my Facebook page: “I love Fox’s pizza because they have a great pizza, but I like the fact that they go out of their way to help out the community with fundraisers. That’s awesome. Thanks.” Here is someone who, along with his family, eats at my restaurant 3 to 4 times per week. Why? I have an established relationship with the family and that is reinforced by quality product and community activity.
So how does all this affect your bottom line? In its simplest form ROI is a calculation expressed as percentage:
ROI = [(Payback - Investment)/Investment)]*100
Your payback is actually the total amount of money earned from your investment in your company. Investment relates to the amount of resources put into generating the given payback. This is usually thought of as ‘how much did I spend on that ad?’ and ‘how much profit did I make from the sales it generated?’. In general it can be said that as long as the percentage is greater than zero your investment was good. Why? It is because our marketing goal is for long-term results. Even if you did not make your first million today, the foundation you are laying will produce greater results to build on during your next marketing campaign.
“Most important are fundamental marketing elements, such as defining your restaurant’s target market and positioning territory and the tailoring of your message to appropriate communication vehicles,’ says Retelewski. “Ideally, your marketing plan will be integrated, including multiple channels of communication to optimize your reach and allow for targeted messaging.”
Measuring ROI is a complex matter that can be approached in many different ways. Naturally, as a business we need to have a stable bottom line — we can also see that payback is a direct result of many marketing elements working together. You maximize your ROI when you and not just your message reach the consumer and touch their lives and their communities.
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney,PA.
Photo by Josh Keown
A photo of a recently deceased friend was posted on a social network. As people commented several words kept reoccurring; beautiful, confident, intelligent. That photo was powerful; it evoked memories and emotions. Though we view things in varying ways, all of us have emotional responses to the things around us. A picture can convey intense emotion, or even a complete thought or feeling.
Danie J Boorstin, the renowned social historian, once said that “an image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.”
As marketers, we reckon with the power of imagery. A seminar I attended talked about the use of images in menus. The example was given of a Midwestern rib establishment that used a photo of ribs, taken with a cheap camera, on its menu. The picture was awful, but sales of ribs rose. Was this a coincidence? No, because we eat with our eyes.
Consequently, when deciding what to eat the eyes play an imperative role. Our appetite is more about cravings than need. It’s based primarily on a craving to satisfy our senses versus a hunger for the necessary. Your imagery should provoke desire, the better your imagery the more intense the desire becomes and the more likely you are to achieve the desired sales. When the Midwest restaurateur replaced his amateurish rib snapshot with a professional image, sales of ribs skyrocketed.
We perceive that because people are visual they are naturally drawn to image-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Text is becoming obsolete as 60 percent of images uploaded are food related. I attest to this when customers call and request the menu item pictured. Further proof is my dine-in sales growth of two percent since the installation of a digital menu board.
Pizzerias must be very careful to see that food is appealingly presented in all marketing materials, including online venues. Many operators can’t afford to hire a world-class photographer, but there are other resources. Opt for a marketing design company that has a respectable library of pizza specific images. When searching for the perfect picture for menus, postcards or Web sites, think of single words that convey your message accurately. Words such as “family”, “freshness”, or “authentic”can make a real impact. You may also search online stock photography companies for images. While not a quick and easy task, it’s one that pays off.
Take note to use consistent images, conveying a standard with minimal variation, throughout your marketing. This builds and reinforces your brand. Ignoring it will lead to a disconnect with your brand and message. When I incorporated this concept, sales rose 14 percent and more than doubled profits. I captivated emotions and motivated people to buy.
Beware of pride — it comes before a fall. Those who feel they can just snap a photo or have an amateur photography enthusiast do it don’t attain their full marketing potential. Food photography is an art. It requires special lighting, angling and props. This type of art will build desire, persuade and inspire.
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
My manager’s paycheck and my driver’s tips last week both were more than I took home as the pizzeria’s owner. I logged as many hours as both of them, but I don’t have a steady income (sometimes I don’t even make minimum wage). Sound familiar? Many operators relate to this scenario. Why? One forgotten factor is that operators delegate compensation, but not accountability. Who gets the tip for getting that big order out on time? It is delivery driver Joe. But while helping to prepare the order, who paid for the wings Joe dropped, or the smashed tomato at the bottom of the case that we couldn’t use in the salad? All too often the business owner bears the burden of the world as his profits are thrown in the trash.
Let your staff share the accountability. How, you ask? Consider trying a weight chart. Post it by the makeline for all to see. Every time a pizza, sandwich or stromboli is made incorrectly, note it on the chart, along with its value and the identity of the person who made the error. Each time I find a smashed bun or produce gone bad, it is duly noted along with its cost and whose responsibility it was to check in the order, rotate stock and so on.
Daily, if possible, I review and total how much of my money was wasted. I now have the ability to make sure it does not happen again. Was a pizza made incorrectly because our new hire could not take an order properly or read the ticket? Was the crew just goofing off? Do I need to improve my management skills? Do I need to have a better training system?
How about that moldy bun or rotten produce? Does my stock need rotated properly? Did my manager order too much? Am I receiving outdated product? The answers to these questions will point to the problem that needs fixing. Now, I can fill my wallet instead of my dumpster.
The Waste Chart instills in employees a sense of pride and responsibility. How many times would you want your name up there? If it were up there regularly, would you still have a job? I have found that equating ‘Oops!’ into dollars opens eyes. Letting employees know how much they cost you puts them on their best behavior.
I also utilize a Driver’s Performance Chart. Each week, I use my POS system to post a list of my drivers’ performance by the schedule. This allows my staff to see who is the fastest, who took the most deliveries, etc. Once again, no one wants to be last.
What does this tell me about my drivers? Is Graham on his cell phone instead of getting to and from his deliveries? Does he have no sense of direction? Am I bad at giving directions? Was there no phone number on the delivery ticket? Now my drivers are motivated to safely compete for the coveted top position, and I am able to make sure they have the tools to succeed.
The Waste Chart and Driver’s Performance Chart are two tools any pizzeria operator can use to their advantage — and we need all the advantages we can get!
Free publicity? Nothing is free these days — or is it?
I don’t want my pizzeria just randomly mentioned by whomever, whenever or wherever. Ultimately, I’d like to control the image I have created and to generate more awareness of myself and what my business is all.
None of us have the resources of a major corporation. We can’t advertise on prime-time network television or do weekly mass mailings. But, there are little things we can do to make a big noise. These little things are not secrets, either. They’re simple little tricks of the trade that we all know — yet we don’t always execute them in the proper way to get the desired results.
First, you have to decide who you want to be (USP) and how you want to accomplish that. Then convey that message to your demographics. Gear your marketing and media placement in the direction to develop your niche.
•Be community-minded. I sponsored a parade, hosted a fundraiser and buy local ingredients.
•Best Pizza – Why can I say that? What separates me from the rest?
•Gourmet Pizza – I offer healthy alternatives, unique products.
•Sporty Image – I sponsor a baseball league, I display sports memorabilia, teams eat here, a famous athlete ate here.
Develop your business around this theme or image. Make your community aware of it and make them like you by showing the positive benefits your business brings to them. Creating this awareness lends itself naturally to bringing on the free publicity.
Remember that you are part of community. You are not on your own, so make a list of those who you can align with to help promote your image.
•Police – I support safe driving; I use anti–theft devices; my drivers always wear seat belts.
•Red Cross – Am I there when a disaster strikes? Do I help others, do I donate?
•Make-a-Wish – Is there anyone who does not have a soft spot in their heart for a sick child?
•Fire Department – Everyone loves, respects and needs these guys. Do you?
•Big box stores, like Wal-Mart, are generally willing and have budgets to donate to a good cause. Wal-Mart, for example, has a set goal to raise a specific amount of money for the Children’s Miracle Network annually. Can you provide a fundraiser?
•Think of other local businesses or organizations that are influential in your community.
The PR departments in these types of organizations have great resources that will help you promote your image for free just by aligning yourself with them. They also have their own employees and databases that are now being made aware of you and your product! And they all like to talk about good things going on around town. Be part of that.
It is a good idea to have some kind of relationship with each type of media. Don’t just approach them when you want something for nothing, and don’t burn bridges by throwing the nagging salesperson out when they come calling.
Know the editor(s), news directors and food critics, and be familiar with their work – what exactly they do and how they do it. When was the last time you sent a free pizza to a media outlet and attached a note saying, “I really enjoyed your last article on……” Just let them know you are around.
Be sure to advertise within your budget in a consistent manner so that you are recognized by them when you do want to have a press release run or when you receive recognition in the community. Also, bear in mind that an editor’s job is no walk in the park. If you can make their job easier, your chances of having your story published increase significantly. It is much easier to copy and paste than to write a story form scratch.
‘Tis the season to be frugal? Consumers are finding their disposable cash at an all-time low. The reality of a recession has hit home. Consumers now have to be more discreet than ever or change their ways — and change does not come easy. Dining out is still a large part of the American lifestyle, but its trends often mirror the economy.
Many operators in the pizza industry are experiencing drops in sales and profits. How can an operator adapt to the changing times and keep his customer base alive and well? Here are a few suggestions adopted from trends I’ve seen throughout the restaurant industry.
Rebates – People love them, like an operator, a consumer looks at the bottom line. How can you offer rebates? Maybe you already do and all you need to do is adopt some consumer friendly language, such as ‘Buy 5 XL pizzas and receive a $5 rebate check good on your next pizza purchase’.
A rebate can be as simple as a gift certificate. Obtaining a rebate is a consumer motivation. This tactic can increase the frequency of a consumer’s purchases. We tend to call such buying incentives “reward programs”, but in trying times consumers’ loyalty can wane. Renaming your program will attract a consumer with language they are becoming increasingly familiar with. Using gift certificates as your rebate will also heighten awareness of this ‘product’ on your menu. Statistics show that an average of 16 percent of gift certificates are never redeemed — pure profit for you. Those that redeem their gift certificates for full value can usually be upsold another 15 percent.
Value Menus – Fast food giants present their value menus to masses and find success. It is widely acknowledged that upon taking your family to a fast food joint, your wallet becomes $25 lighter. You did not experience quality or value, yet you still go. Why, because they have successfully positioned themselves as a value meal replacement.
Can we do a similar thing? Sure. Take your quality product and create a $9.99 Menu. I am not advocating deep discounts. I am promoting that you take the time to ask yourself “What can I offer for 9.99?” This will give the perception that we are not only a quality product, but a value, too — and value is a top concern for consumers in a recession. Try to come up with five items: a small pizza plus sodas, a medium pizza, an XL pizza with a thin crust and lite cheese (lower food cost, health benefits) and so forth. Once we attract the price-conscious consumer, the sale comes naturally. Ask yourself, “Did I order from the value menu the last time I went to a fast food joint?”
Another trend we see in fast casual is that $5.99 seems to be the magic number of what the market will bear for a meal. Once again, can we apply that to our operation? Can you offer a sandwich, chips and drink for $5.99? It doesn’t have to be a steak or bacon. Why not ham, or a veggie, or a smaller version of one of your signature items? People are looking for an affordable way to get through these times without making major lifestyle changes. Position yourself to be a reasonable option, then work to increase their frequency as you gain top-of-mind awareness.
Consumer Appeal — Combo ads with perceived value still remain the most popular in our industry. It now takes a little more to get them in the door, though. Add a tag or ‘bottom headline’ to your ad. You may also have to communicate your message in more appealing ways. Take this short letter, for example.
“Make your pizzeria a trick-or-treat stop. Bring your kids to my pizzeria on Halloween and receive a 'treat' — plus, get your picture taken with our mascot (costumed employee....). We will e-mail you a copy of the picture.”
Now, you have their e-mail address in your database. The marketing cost? Minimal. The same tactic can be applied to any holiday, and it’s an excellent way to show some goodwill, create traffic, build a database and communicate your message in a very cost-effective way.
YOU - Zig Ziglar once alleged, “You cannot tailor-make the situations in life, but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations”. The media is full of gloom and doom. Your positive attitude in the face of adversity will project to consumers that you are a thriving survivor. If you are not personally adding value, you are decreasing the profits of the company.
Your pizzeria may not be all things to all people, but you can be all things to your customers if you put yourself in their shoes and adapt your persona to appeal to their interests.
There he sat, as expressionless as an iguana as I explained how an ad I would create for him would sink like a dropped anchor, even with a great headline, plenty of benefits and a no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. He would be pouring money away with the tap wide open. It was a bit awkward for sure.
I recently sat eyeball to eyeball with a client that tasked me with finding a way to advertise a fish pizza that just hadn’t caught on. It was his “pet” pizza. He loved it. I thought it was okay, and customers had already been given free samples. Yet it just wouldn’t budge.
He figured some fancy ad would surely get this pizza moving up the sales channel and turn it into a signature item.
Let’s get straight on something right now: A deep-rooted, fundamental marketing “fact” is that you will make lots of money by selling people what they already want to buy. That said, you can go broke “on the quick” by plowing your ad budget into promoting fringe items with little interest.
Take, for example, grocery stores. They advertise top-selling items only. Stuff with wide appeal. Things with proven ability to drive traffic. Items that cast the widest net over the marketplace: milk, meats, soft drinks. They don’t promote mousetraps, toilet plungers or liverwurst.
I often see pizzerias advertise a “Large Cheese Pizza” at a low price-point because they’re afraid of scaring prospects away with a higher-priced offer. Now that’s fine if cheese pizzas are one of your top sellers. If they’re not, though, you are advertising something with little demand — and the low-price offer is costing you more than it’s bringing in.
Even though my pizzeria was widely known for “gourmet,” I found it best to advertise the Combo, BBQ chicken pizza, and I’d always throw a veggie pizza in the mix. Why? Because those pizzas made the phones ring off the hook. Now, I certainly listed my entire menu on most ads, but I only used photos and offers for my top sellers.
You’ll instantly improve your advertising results by following this path of least resistance. And that is by advertising what people already want to buy from you.
Here’s three easy ways you can figure out exactly what you should be advertising to drive the most traffic with the least money spent.
• What are your current top three selling pizzas or entrees?
• What has been a crowd favorite for a long time?
• What are the big chains advertising?
Okay, the mere fact that your top-selling pizzas are your “top-selling” pizzas means people want to buy them. Your marketplace has already told you what to advertise. Listen to your customers!