2009 July: Marketing Matters

2009 July: Marketing MattersYou still standing? Congratulations. It’s been pretty tough lately, to say the least. The good news? If you’ve made it this far, you stand a good chance of surviving this downturn and popping out stronger than ever on the other side.

As the weak players fall by the wayside, make sure you’re grabbing up your fair share of their customers. Fact is, right now is a great time to be sweeping your trade area with a solid message — because as less viable pizzerias trim the ad budget, it means there is less clutter for consumers to sift through. Fewer ads to compare means more opportunity to gain “share of mind and wallet.”

Just the other day I headed out to grab some lunch at a nationally known Tex-Mex restaurant. It’s close to my office and I go there about once a week. I got out of the car … stood confused for a moment … looked up, then down, then sideways. Had I driven to the wrong place? Where was it? Then it hit me — they were suddenly out of business. The sign was already gone.

Can you imagine the huge opportunity this opens up for a sharp Tex-Mex restaurant owner in the area? This is like hitting the mother lode on the first swing of the pick. A fl yer (dropped off to local businesses in person) offering a “no strings attached FREE lunch” would pack the place. When people show up for the free lunch, I would see that each one left with a menu and a hand-written thank-you card that could be used for a free side dish or drink on their next visit (this is called a stealth bounce-back).

In general, value propositions seem to be a key message right now. Wal-Mart keeps pounding this message: “Save Money. Live Better.” They show how much you’ll save each year by preparing one extra meal a week at home ($800). KFC has done a great job of promoting their $4 meal, complete with drink. Domino’s Pizza CEO Dave Brandon starred in the company’s “bailout” commercials. The list goes on. Get out there and reintroduce your pizzeria, your menu and yourself to your neighborhood. Clearly state the benefits they’ll get by choosing your pizzeria over others. Package some meal deals and point out the savings they’ll get by buying more from you. Make it easy for them to make a decision.

Seize this rare opportunity to position your pizzeria to take advantage of trimmed ad budgets and failing competitors. Understand that if people don’t know you’re around, they obviously can’t call or stop by. It’s really back to basics here –– pizzeria marketing 101. Sure it’s a little more work; and it will cost a few bucks. But, if you want what others don’t have, you need to do what others won’t do. ?

Kamron Karington owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and author of The Black Book: Your Complete Guide to Creating Staggering Profits in Your Pizza Business. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.

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