In our market, there is a limited amount of people that we can market to. We also have a saturated market, with chain stores and other local competitors. One of those local competitors has 30 years on us. In order to get people to try us, we have been sending out every door direct menu mailers. We spent a lot of time on them, making sure that the quality of our product is portrayed through imagery and the overall quality of the menu itself. It also includes a coupon strip to entice them to try us that very important first time. Once they do, it is our job to keep them coming back.
We have a strong Facebook following. Social media has been critical in our development. When we were trying new things out before we opened, we did Facebook giveaways to get feedback on what was working, and what people thought about our products. The day we opened, we already had more than 200 followers. We have also done the traditional marketing for pizzerias — door hangers, mailers, etc.
We are a local sponsor for Relay for Life, which is a huge event in our area. We held fundraisers for the last two relays, which helped us, in turn, raise awareness that we are here and that we care about the community. We have also done some fundraisers for high school sporting teams, which has had a good response. We participated in last year’s Slice of Hope as well.
Our main focus is quality. We also try to give our customers a more personal experience when they come in. Making connections with our customers and letting them know that we really appreciate them visiting us has gone a long way. We also have a “lunch punch” card that rewards frequent customers with a totally free lunch on their 11th visit. Our lunch regulars love that.
Whenever I am in the kitchen creating something new, I always try to take samples out to customers that are dining with us. They, of course, like to receive something free of charge, but more then that, they like that I want their opinion and some get excited about new menu items, which gives me an opportunity to connect with them personally.
When we first introduced late night delivery, the response was more than I had hoped for. The idea was that while I was making our dough for the following day, I could take a few orders, and have a little help rolling out the dough and preparing for the next day. Now that we have been doing it for a while, the immediate excitement has worn off, but I have earned a few new regulars because of it, and we still get enough orders to make it viable.
RED STAR PIZZA COMPANY
This small-town, independent pizzeria serves up thin crust and Chicago deep-dish style pies. The shop has generated more than 3,000 Facebook likes.