Getting people in the door. Free samples?

Hey guys,

We’ve been open roughly 3 months and sales have been steadily increasing bit are still quite slow. We’re in a great neighborhood, but store location could be better.

We have great reviews and lots of repeat customers.

I’m thinking of advertising on the radio on Fridays that we have free pizza samples between 11 and 4. We already have a contract with the radio and our current advertisement with them (on fridays) brings in 5 people at most.

We’re lucky to see 50 orders on a weekday, so I’m hoping people try it, like it and come back.


Sampling is the best way to earn new customers.

Make sure to define the sample size in the radio ads and be generous “Free pizza samples” is pretty vague and meh, “One giant, foldable slice - that’s 1/6th of a 16” extra-large pizza - is yours free just for stopping in! If you like it, buy more. If not, thanks for giving a local place an honest try" is closer to the target.

Radio advertising usually does not work for pizza places…How quick can you get out the radio contract?..Once you do, invest in door to door delivery of your menus…

My radio Contract is month to month, so could drop it pretty quick.

My other thought was to print 10,000 flyers with menu and a coupon for a free sample as a “Hi, we’re new in the neighborhood” kinda thing.

I would see what kind of response you get to just your menu before offering up something free…But that said you menu should have some packages that help you increase your tickets…Good luck…

Sampling is great especially for a new place. Make sure you have something on hand you can sell once you get them in the door fountain drink/dessert most people will feel obliged to buy something even if they came in for a free sample.

Get some EDDM going. You can find companies that do everything or you can do it yourself but for any new place you should set aside a good amount of money to send these out to every house within your 2 or 3 mile radius. Every other week at least for the first few months.

Offer free lunches to local businesses. This one is pretty often overlooked and its pretty simple to do. Find out how many people work in the office send about 2 slices per person and maybe some breadsticks. Include your menus. This one will pay for itself right away in repeat business if you execute it properly and you know, if your pizza taste good. Good luck.

Well we announced on the radio today that people would get “free sample slices” for just showing up.
One person came. For a town of roughly 800,000 and a pretty popular radio station I’m not too happy with the results!

We did samples of some of our specialty pizzas and our pastas. Most people were grateful and ordered what they sampled. Radio wouldn’t be my first choice, but since you have a contract, why not. I hope you don’t waste a lot of food for the people who only come just for freebees. I would just go and give samples to the locals. ( you mentioned your great neighborhood). Don’t forget the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Your getting great reviews and repeat customers after only 3 months. Also, your the new kid on the block so those customers are used to buying elsewhere. From experience and what many successful owners have told me is it takes over 2 to 3 years to get ingrained with the community. Just keep doing the right things and you’ll build a solid foundation to grow upon.

Find a copy of the “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads” and you will get some tips from Roy Williams…He briefly discusses radio but makes some great points…

I think you’re asking a lot of someone to get in their car, drive across town all for a “free sample slice”. If it’s Chic Fila or Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, people will line up a mile long for a buck or two item for free, but not for that new pizza shop they have never hear of. If you’re confident in your product, give them an offer they can’t resist. When I have done sampling to grow my business, I have offered a free large one topping pizza with free delivery. The customer has absolutely zero risk, why wouldn’t they give you a try? Now it’s up to you to wow them and turn them into a customer for life.

You did not mention the details of your radio contract. Is it just Fridays? How many days per week? How many spots per day? How many stations?

I disagree with some of the comments above. Radio is a great place to put your money… if you are clear on what you want to accomplish and realistic on what radio is good at and are willing to put in the required investment. Many people are confused about what marketing is for and what different media can do. Radio is excellent at building name recognition and creating an identity and personality for your business… but it is a long term proposition. Radio sucks for an immediate call to action like the event you are holding or a special offer good only tonight. (Possible exception if you are investing in a really concentrated event like a live remote where you might drop $1000 in an afternoon and people already know your name)

One thing that is important to note is that we are in a small town in a rural part of the state and nearly everyone that can hear the signal is inside our delivery area… so the dollars spent are directed at our potential audience. In a larger place where the majority of the people who hear the station are not in your area the math does not work so well.

As part of our regular advertising plan we run 4-8 spots per day 3-5 days per week on four stations varying by season. Our radio ads never mention a special offer. They are all about creating an identity and talking about what makes us different. Sometimes the message about differentiation is direct, sometimes it is implied.

Putting a handful of spots on a single station one day of the week to promote an offer is a waste of money. This is especially true if many of the radio audience are not in your area. If you want to spend money to directly generate sales use coupons delivered by any of several means as several mentioned above… the danger is that businesses who only promote themselves with coupons and focus entirely on direct call to action messaging send out the message that price is the reason to buy and never build a brand that enhances the value of the product. I believe that you need to have both the call-to-action messages AND branding/positioning messages as a part of your overall marketing strategy.

We have done free pizza tasting with great success. When we do it, we make a big deal out of it and do it for one day for about 2 hours. We push it on facebook, we run 3 column by 6" newspaper ads for three days (two days before and day-of) and we do it right after school is out. Our target is moms with kids… so we do it from 4PM to 6Pm. Typically we get 300-400 people and go through about 100 14" pizzas. With the kids there we have to do a certain number of plain cheese or pepperoni pies, but our emphasis is on our higher end specialty pies because that is where we shine and are most different from the other places in town… so we go through maybe 20 “kid” pizzas and about 80 4-8 topping specialty pies. Total cost for food and advertising comes to about $1000 plus we run some extra labor cost. We set up tables outside our store and hand out slices and talk about the pizza. We allow seconds (and thirds)… this is all about people meeting us, trying our pie and feeling good. We do this any time we launch a new menu with new pizza choices. It ends up being nearly every year, but not quite every year.

I appreciate all the replies.

I don’t have the budget to give away free pizzas via delivery, or to advertise 4-6 radio spots a day on multiple stations.

We just started and for now money is tight. Sales are 20k a month, advertising budget is roughly 500 a month. What’s the best use of that 500? I’m thinking flyers to the neighborhood around us, with menu, a short background, and our great reviews.

Also, sampling to local businesses seems to be effective.

What do you all think?

I think for now you should kill the radio advertising and focus that money on eddm mail outs of just your menu it’s budget friendly you can choose how much you want to spend each time you do a mail out and it will give you instant results make a bitchin menu and people that don’t order right away will hold on to them and order at some point. Then maybe once you are established and the community knows who you are you can go back to radio advertising and it might possibly work out better for you then.

$500 is simply not enough. At 20K per month, I suggest you figure out how to at least triple your marketing budget even if that means putting some more cash into the enterprise. At 20K per month this would be $1500 per month. This would be a 7.5% marketing budget which is the high-end of normal for an established delco but low for a new store starting up. Ideally I would say go with 10% of your current sales and grow into it keeping the dollars the same until that amount becomes 5%-6% of sales and then grow the marketing budget from there.

I agree you probably do not have the money for radio at this time.

With that little in the way of funds, I would be hand delivering your flyer…What costs you 16 cents to mail might be 4 or 5 to hand deliver…And yes that would be time consuming but it sounds like you need to be very concerned about “surviving”…

I really appreciate all your replies, seriously, it means a lot that you’ve taken the time to help and give your two cents.

Oh yes, we’re very concerned with “surviving”!

I think I’ve decided to do double sided flyers that we will hand deliver. The front will have a brief introduction, and mention things like the quality of food, that it’s all hand made, and how we’re locally owned and operated having living in the community for 27 years. Also, this page will have the Yelp logo with our current score (5/5 from 30 reviews) … The back side will be a menu.

I then plan on stapling some “Free slice” coupons as well as some “Free 18” coupons to SOME of the flyers. I’ll deliver the same number each week and see which ones do better in response rate and retained customers. Sound like a plan?

Great start…

Keep track of your efforts…You are doing what I will call an A / B split…In that 2 different groups get 2 different offers…You need to know which one works better…You may also want to do some that are just a menu…To see if you can make sales without an offer…

As far as a flyer/menu…Please make it look good…Some of the printers that come to this forum can help…Or look at the ads in the back of PMQ magazine…All your time and cost will go to waste if your printed piece does not look good…

What do you guys think of this menu?

I will admit i have some color issues, so for me, the Orange on black is hard to read. White on black i have no problems with (i am by now means “normal” when it comes to my color issues so take it with a huge grain of salt).

Edit: But other then that, i liked the layout and felt it was a good setup. (clicked send before i finished the post :frowning: )

I like the layout but not too much of a fan of the black…