2011 January: Marketing Matters

If you are on a tight budget, you are more than likely an independent owner/operator — and you probably work 80-plus hours per week. You are literally the business, and at this point you are a commodity.

How do you get away from that? Market yourself. Get out of the kitchen and be seen. Why? Because people are more likely to do business with someone they know. The visual connection facilitates a positive buying response. You need to be the front of the house.

Next, strengthen this connection with a well-designed business card. Beyond basic information, adding a presentable photo of you looking competent and approachable adds credibility to the card. It’s also a good idea to take it a step further and utilize the back of your card for a bounce back offer that is personally initialed by you. Every time that card or offer is seen, it reinforces the emotional connection between you and the customer. Thankfully, many companies today allow you to design your own business cards for the cost of a few shoelaces.

How about your staff? Why are they here? Sure, you are a great boss and they love pizza, but the bottom line is they need a few extra bucks? When building my business, I found my employees to be an untapped resource. I induced them to secure their hours by finding us new customers. I designed an inexpensive business card that had a compelling offer for new customers. The employees would pass these out to potential new customers and proudly explain our great product to the new candidate. The back of the card had a place for the employee to sign his name and to gather the new customer’s information. Whoever brought in the most customers got cash.

Yes, I am on a shoestring budget. This marketing tactic cost me a mere 1 percent of what I would have paid for a ‘Spray and Pray’ campaign … and it provided me much
better results.

After you personally connect to your customers and your employees are with the program, you need to get the customers on board as advocates of your pizzeria. I got customers singing my praises by creating a pizza coupon card fundraiser. A customer’s non-profit group sells pizza coupon cards at a discount to their friends and neighbors, acquiring new customers for me. No order taking, delivering hoagies, or carrying boxes of candy is needed. It’s just “one” simple stop. With a 70/30 split, the group earns more money than it would make by selling cookie dough, candy, jewelry or magazines. By the way, roughly 20 percent of these cards never get redeemed. That is 100 percent profit for me! My only cost is to print these business card coupons. My customers do all the rest.

Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.