Effective Pizza Marketing Ideas for Independent Pizzeria Owners and Small Chains
A whopping 93% of Americans eat pizza every month. To satisfy America’s pizza craving, 73,000 pizzerias across the country baked over 38 billion dollars worth of pizza last year.
Are you getting your share?
It is safe to say, pizza pretty much sells itself.
But here is the challenge – If you are the 2 out of every 3 pizzerias in America that are independently owned, you face growing competition from local businesses and large chains. It is important to get noticed and be on top of customer’s mind when they think of pizza the next time.
This is where a well-designed pizza marketing strategy is important for every pizza shop. The strategy should include both proven conventional ideas and newer innovative marketing technologies that can drive revenue growth for the pizzeria.
Pizza Marketing Ideas
Here are 10 ideas that you can include in your marketing plan that can lead to selling more pies and driving revenue growth.
1. Get Professional Visuals
Good quality pictures of your food resonate with customers. Mouth-watering images of pizza with melted cheese and the perfectly baked crust will arouse the appetite of potential customers.
For success with social media platforms and digital channels, visual media is a must. As Facebook analytics show, posts with images have significantly higher engagement compared to text only posts. On Instagram and Pinterest, good quality images are a must.
Hire a good food photographer who knows how to make your food look amazing. It is not a good idea to use stock images as people identify the food and potentially be disappointed when the image they see and the food they get from your pizzeria do not match.
Take a look at the images below.
(A) This photo was taken on a smartphone:
(B) This is a stock photo:
(C) This is a professionally shot photo:
Which photo do you think evokes a strong desire to have pizza?
The first photo (A) does not inspire due to the low quality. The second photo (B) does not relate since it is too perfect and probably nothing close to what the actual food looks like. The third photo (C) is real, it represents the actual food, looks realistic and increases desire.
Pro Tip: It is a good investment to get a professional set of photos of your food.
Reuse these images on your menu, fliers, promotions, website and social media platforms.
2. Offer Pizza by the Slice
Your customers have multiple needs and tastes. While it’s great to get orders for several pizza and related menu items, offering pizza by the slice is always a good option to have to attract customers who come by themselves. Offering a combo of a slice of pizza and pop in the $4-8 range will attract walk-in customers during lunchtime, especially.
Most walk-in business in pizzerias consists of people looking for pizza by the slice; so do not make them buy a whole pizza.
This is a great idea to implement when you are trying to attract the younger crowd who are looking for a bite, and not to carry a whole pizza home.
To promote the pizza by the slice deal, have a neon sign in the front window that can be seen from the access road. Consider using pizza sign feather flags by the road curbside as well.
3. Combo Package Deals
When it comes to getting food for a group, ordering pizza is the easiest option compared to any other kind of food. Because pizza can be shared versus individual orders with Mexican, burgers etc. The person ordering the food has the simplest option with ordering pizza by just selecting a package that is adequate for that group.
Create combo package deals for various group sizes in your carry out menu making it really easy for customers to order. Consider having a combo package deal for game days. Another good combo deal is targeting families of 4-5 for those weekend home movie nights and other family events.
Combo deals are great because the customer feels like they are getting a great deal which can turn into bulk sales.
Creating multiple combo deals can also be used to promote new items on your menu. But be careful with promotions and deals, because if you do it too much and for too long people will start demanding cheaper prices and that could affect the business bottom line.
Do you need help with designing your promotions and offers? Request Info»
4. Create an Effective Coupon Offer
Pizzerias are probably the most effective in the restaurant industry when it comes to coupons and deals promotions. Coupons from pizzerias (and hair salons) have continued to resonate with customers.
Coupons have been a proven way to increase foot traffic to your pizzeria. If you place an incentive in a local magazine, newspaper or direct mail campaign it will cause more customers to go to your place of business than a regular ad without coupons.
When creating coupons deals, they should be for a limited time only. Scarcity sells. But an ongoing stream of offers should always be a part of your marketing plan.
Always lay out the terms of the promotion clearly on the coupon, otherwise some people tend to abuse them.
The 12-month marketing planner has all the coupons and deals for each week of the year. Do you have one for your business? Request Info »
5. Fix Local Online Listings
Being found online is the most important thing when trying to attract new customers for your pizzeria. The pizza business is hyper local.
More and more customers search on various local directories and search engines such as Yelp, Google, Facebook and other popular directories and social platforms when they are looking for new pizza places.
“Pizza near me” is one of the highly searched terms on Google.
You want to ensure that your pizzeria appears online and the basic NAP information (Name, Address Phone number) is correct for your business in the major local directories. we often see new client listings that are incomplete or incorrect. That confuses customers and the search engines, which can lower your online visibility.
See how your pizzeria appears online with a free scan. Scan Now »
Pro Tip: Most directories will allow you to upload 10 images and some videos, but most businesses don’t! This represents a huge advantage over your competitors. You can also post videos shot with a iPhone or Smartphone and then edit the videos on the phone. There are also services, like Animoto, that allow you to create videos using photos.
These help more people select your listing and get them to order online, by phone or in-house. Use the best images available, including the outside of your store and some mouth-watering pizza pix. If the owner is famous locally, we suggest your include a picture of them as well.
The pictures should support the various groups you want to sell to, from a slice of pie to a big catering order.
6. Replace Plastic Punch Cards with Digital Check-in
With the Millennial audience, plastic punch cards simply do not work anymore. Create a digital rewards program for your loyal customers that is simple for them to checkin- at each visit, earn rewards and redeem rewards. Apart from relieving the need for customers to physically carry the cards, it is cost effective for the business by eliminating expensive plastic printing costs and maintenance.
A “custom” loyalty program branded for the restaurant is much better than marketplace loyalty programs such as Belly or Spring. And unlike 3rd-party vendors, you own the program and keep all the proceeds.
With your own custom loyalty program, you have full access to customer information that you can re-market easily. Avoid the 3rd party marketplace loyalty programs where you have restricted access to your customer information and often higher marketing costs.
Need help with developing a custom loyalty program for your business? Request Info »
7. Segment Email Lists
Building a customer email list is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways for pizza shops to connect with their customers effectively and re-market to them. The key to engagement and conversion is to nurture the email list using relevant content to ensure high open rates and click thru rates.
One of the issues with many email marketing campaigns is the lack of segmentation. They are often referred to as “email blasts” which results in poor customer engagement.
Segment your customer email list so that you can deliver relevant content and promotions for each segment. Here are some simple email segmentation ideas:
- Online ordering customers
- Loyalty program customers
- Reservations guests
- Website opt-ins
- Local events and fund raisers
With each segment, you can deliver content and offers that resonate the most for that segment.
As an example, dine-in specials should be sent to reservations customers ideally. It may not resonate with online ordering customers; while a free delivery coupon should only be sent to online ordering customers.
The key is to send RELEVANT offers to specific target audiences.
To learn more about effective email marketing strategies for your restaurant, read “7 Email Strategies to Boost Restaurant Marketing ROI“
8. Engage on Mobile Channels
For pizzerias looking to tap into customers by engaging them on their mobile devices, there are quite a few options.
- Text messaging
- Mobile apps
- Push notification
- Social media apps
Text messages are opened more often than emails, that’s why text messages are a great way to reach your market but you need to be careful not to be too invasive or your efforts will have the opposite effect and put people off.
Creating a mobile app for your business provides your loyal customers a convenient way to order and drive up repeat business.
We have revised The Digital Restaurant’s mobile app to compete with the chains at an ‘independent’ price.
Mobile apps are also a great way to place your brand on the top spot of your customer’s mind when they think of pizza, and even when they don’t think of pizza as they look at their phone and there you are.
Push notifications are becoming increasing relevant and a better alternative to text messaging.
Social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email apps also provide effective channels where you can drive mobile engagement specifically.
The key is to have a mobile engagement “strategy” that includes an ideal mix of the various channels.
Learn how to have a solid mobile marketing strategy? Request Info »
9. Sustain Conversations on Social Media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide a great way to engage with customers and stay on top of mind.
Your customers all use different social platforms, so it is important to be on more than one.
To stay top-of-mind requires an ongoing conversation on relevant topics in addition to the regular posting of specials and deals that customers see. The key is to create a following on these platforms and ensure you reach people every time you post something.
Pro Tip: Social media success depends on being a valued member of the community and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your posts should be helpful to the community and not really about you. If Little League tryouts are announced or if the mayor makes a proclamation, you should share or re-Tweet it. Support community events by promoting them. Engage local people with large followings. The more their followers see them engage with you, the more free publicity you receive. Promote specials and new items the other 20% of the time.
The challenge is having a consistent social media strategy requires a commitment of resources and a social media plan that should ideally be part of an integrated marketing plan.
Our Pizza Marketing Playbook includes a 12-month marketing calendar with promotions and offers template for an entire year. Do you need an integrated marketing playbook, contact us »
10. Support Local Fundraisers and Sponsorships
Word of mouth marketing is very effective, and increasing your perception of being a community leader gives people a reminder or reason to recommend your pizza to friends, family, and others in the community.
Look for opportunities to sponsor or participate in fundraising programs at your local school, church, service organizations and sports teams. Many have “Dine and Donate” fundraiser programs, where a certain % of the dinner check is a contribution to the fundraiser program. These are great opportunities to get visibility and creating buzz. Donate pizza at such events for free for people to sample your food.
Here are some additional ideas:
11. Align Pizza Marketing Strategy to Operations
For your pizza marketing strategy to be successful, it has to tightly align to operations. You need to ensure the order-taking and order fulfillment processes are working to meet or exceed customer expectations.
For carryout and delivery, ensure phone ordering, online ordering and mobile ordering (if offered) are working well to ensure the order accuracy.
As your business grows, your kitchen staff and front desk need to have great communication and have systems in place to deal with multiple orders. Your kitchen has to be able to pump out orders quickly maintaining deliveries of consistently delicious hot pizza.
Your POS system needs to be working and able to handle peak volumes of Fridays and Saturdays. You have to be able to take credit cards, especially with online orders. Your delivery staff needs to be on call.
Without this marketing will do your pizzeria no good.
12. Repeat Business is the Key to Pizzeria Success
People are creatures of habit when it comes to ordering pizza. If customers love the pizza and like the customer service, they generally become repeat customers. And they tend to refer their friends!
Pizzerias tend to get a loyal customer base once a preference has been established. Most people will find their favorite and stick with that one for a long time.
If you can deliver good quality food consistently and provide decent customer service, you will have a loyal customer base for a very long time. The key is to get to your customers with a solid pizza marketing strategy and then just stay consistent and deliver quality pizza every time.
Need help with your pizza marketing strategy? Start Here »
13. Manage and Build Your Online Reputation
To attract new business, your reputation is the 2nd most important thing. The first is being found online on local directories (#7). With mobile users, checking the reviews and ratings on businesses is an instant click away.
The pizza business is very local and as such is dependent on a lot of word of mouth. Remember that people are 2 times more likely to tell others when there was a problem than they are to tell people how great your place is. What is even more amazing is people are 7 times more likely to tell others when they had a problem and was subsequently handled to their satisfaction than they are to tell others about a good experience with no problems. It pays to handle customer issues.
Monitor online review sites, find out what people are saying and respond to their feedback promptly. If you made a mistake with an order, offer an honest apology, offer a refund and invite them to try you again.
Sometimes it is necessary to build your reputation. It is not necessary to have a perfect 5-star reputation, but it is important to have a rating over 4.0. We would love to share strategies where you can build your online reputation organically. Contact us »
Pizza marketing is all about being number one in your customer’s mind, in addition to good food and service. If you can accomplish that by using marketing ideas that put you on top of mind, you have got the upper hand because the pizza business is one of repeat business.
Be number one in the customer’s minds and you will always succeed.
Now your turn:
Go and put these ideas into practice! If you found this article helpful, please leave us a comment. We would love to hear what you have to say.