September 11, 2012 |

Dan Collier Expo Exclusives 2012

By Dan Collier

I had an epiphany. It was a long time coming. Pizza marketing is and always will be about the database.

Over the past couple of years, some of the old-school marketing had been dying in an ugly, expensive manner. Old-school marketing was being compared with dinosaurs. “Print is dead,” they said.

Everyone was clamoring for a new school of marketing: social media. Social media was exciting, sexy, interactive. So “now,” so “new,” so “raw.” “Social media is interactive,” they said.

Here was the problem: While the returns on print were diminishing, print still yielded more returns than social media. Here’s just one case study: 20-store chain sends out a “Tweet” on a Friday at 4 p.m. that all a customer need do is show the Tweet that evening at the store to receive a free medium pizza. Total tweets: 2,313. Total returns: 1.

More than ever, we are in the Get-Rid-Of-Information Age. Trash the junk mail. Erase the voice mail. Delete the email. And what about my Facebook friend who believes I am interested in his post about what he had for breakfast? We approach all information with the first rule of sanity: Can I ignore this?

Many years ago, we in the pizza industry learned that our most effective marketing was delivered to customers who had already shown an interest in our products and services. In other words, we marketed to our database. We built the database from delivery-customer information, dine-in customer data collected through contests and drawings, email clubs and rewards clubs. We then marketed that database monthly. Well, guess what: Nothing has changed.

Is it possible to build a business one customer at a time? Sure. I do it every day. I respond to customer emails and Facebook posts. I touch tables in the dining room. I take phone orders and deliver pizzas. My persona is “Dan the Pizzaman” and many of my customers call me by that moniker. But will this build the business fast enough to keep up with competitors armed with national media dollars? Not in my experience.

Three months ago, I had my epiphany. I was working with my Facebook IT guy and he posed the question: “How do we get fans (or ‘likes’) and what do we do with them once we have them?” It came to me. Simple: We market to them in the same manner as we do my current database.

My delivery database of current customers is about 7,000. I wanted to add social media to my current marketing, not to have social media replace my current marketing. Database marketing means you measure your returns and then adjust the offers, the timing, the content and the look to achieve maximum return. Our International Pizza Expo planner, Bruce Allar, said it best: “No need to throw out the print baby with the inky bathwater.” I knew I needed a database of at least 5,000 through social media to make it worthwhile and effective. So three months ago I set out to create another database, primarily through social media. That database is now over 7,500, surpassing my delivery database in size. In only three months!

There are 3 components I use to build the social media database.

1. Online Ordering

2. Drive 4 Five

3. Two-Cent Tuesday

Online ordering accounts over 3,000 of my social media database. When a customer orders online, they have the option of joining our e-club to receive better-than-average offers every two weeks.

Drive 4 Five is our goal to reach 5,000 Facebook likes. When you ‘like’ us at and you complete the information form, you receive a free medium, two-item pizza.

Two-Cent Tuesday was a Facebook promotion that ran for eight weeks. With the purchase of $10 or more, you could buy something for only two cents. All you had to do was tell us the “secret phrase.” The two-cent item changed weekly, as did the secret phrase,’ and it could only be found on our Facebook page.

Every two weeks this database receives email with a video and the best coupons we offer. Our open rate is 28 percent, with a coupon return consistently over 20 percent.

Social media is the new kid on the marketing block. But it still plays by the older kids’ rules. Build a database and then market that database. Measure your returns. Adjust your offers, timing, content and look to improve your return rate. It’s not sexy; it’s not new; it’s effective.

See Dan Collier at International Pizza Expo® / Click Here to Register for Expo

During Expo March 13-15, Dan Collier, owner of Rusty’s Pizza Parlors in the Los Angeles area, will moderate a panel on employee issues, deliver his own marketing seminar (“My Best Marketing Messages”) and appear on a Power Panel discussing social media.