New business advertising and specials

Hey Guys,

I have a silent partner (and I’m the working owner) and he has never been in the pizza industry (or any restaurant for that matter) so he pretty much has no idea when it comes to specials, marketing, advertising, coupons, promos etc etc. Since we’ve been open for 3 - 1/2 weeks, all we have done is a $2 off hand out coupons (to good customers, curious customers that just want a menu for now etc), and a $5 off postcard direct mailer. I’m trying to push some promotions, like buy a 16" and get a 12" half off or free and he’s not for it. He claims he doesn’t want to give the store away and says he wants to see how the $5 postcards work out first. Granted its only been a week since we started the postcards, and we only sent out about 1,000 so far and we’ve only seen 1 return from it.

If I look in all the coupon books, mailers, phone book etc you see tons of pizza places and it makes me think, they must be doing it for a reason, right? They’re not in there for their health nor just giving away marketing money for nothing. We must be the only pizza place on the planet that doesn’t have a marketing strategy or no advertising, specials, promos. How can I convince him that now is the time to not “give the store away” but rather get people in here to try it?

To convince him you have to show him how successful pizza shops are getting their customers. I ran into this problem when I was working for my father. He had his ideas and I had mine. Use resources like this website to show him what it takes to get noticed by customers. You can print out threads or go online with him.
Every marketing strategy for a pizza shop is to get YOUR NAME in the customers minds. It is that simple. Once you do that you can convey your message.
I liked the post about coupons for a bad economy when I think it was NicksPizza said “Lead with the message and close with the pricing. Basic fundamentals of marketing. It capitalizes on two types of memory recall . . . primacy and recentcy. Customers will most remember the 1st and last thing in a message.”
That is a great point.
Just keep hounding him, it worked for me. It took me 3 years to convince my father to put a drive thru in the pizza shop. Once we did, our business doubled in less than 4 years. Not saying that a drive thru is the way to go. Just an example of hounding.

steveo, you are both right. You have got to get customers to notice you and try your place out . . . that doesn’t mean you have to discount the product. You may decide to do it, but it is not a requirement. I get new customers every week who try us out because they saw an add, read a menu we mailed out, heard from a friend we are good, or saw our message in an event we were doing.

There are TONS of ways to get visibility in the marketplace. Consider what you said, “If I look in all the coupon books, mailers, phone book etc you see tons of pizza places and it makes me think, they must be doing it for a reason, right? They’re not in there for their health nor just giving away marketing money for nothing.” If you are just another coupon amongst the herd, then how are you distinctive and standing out in the crowd? Secondly, just because you see a coupon from another place, you are not sure it is effective, gaining them money, or even a good idea on their part. Notice all of the businesses closing around the country even before we hit the economic snags.

  • Free sample booth at a local shopping center
  • give four 5-pizza parties to school principal as rewards for classes
  • donate pizzas for lunch at local school teacher work day
  • join local chamber of commerce
  • gift certificates to public works employees
  • donate pizzas to a local radio “location” event at some business or other
  • donate gift certificates to radio/tv for them to give as premiums
  • sponsor a Red Cross Blood Drive
  • put your menus at county/city/state welcome center
  • donate food for auctions and door prizes for non-profits
  • get to know as many nearby restaurant owners as possible; ally with the good ones and keep an eye on the jerks
    (a few examples of what has been useful to us . . . we do all of these as part of the marketing plan)

I say that selling a business is about creating a relationship in the marketplace with the customers. The ones who connect quickly and strongly with the people and their needs will survive even in hard times. Customers will be loyal to you if you are loyal to them. Those who do not connect will wither and die. Marketing is a continuous distribution of your message and who you are as a business. Stat now and don’t stop. It is multi-faceted, uses all sorts of tools, and focuses on branding your product and services. Advertising is ONE part of that marketing strategy; coupons are ONE part. Find way to introduce yourself to as many different groups of people as you can, or those coupons will be useless even if they are effective.

Read here in the Think Tank archives about coupon strategies and goals. Each ad piece should be intentional to accomplish a goal or goals. Coupons are the same: raise ticket average, generate new sales, introduce new products, highlight high margin products, etc.

Just slapping $5 off on a piece of paper could be foolish or it could be phenomenal genius; it depends on the goals. HAVE A PLAN. HAVE A PLAN. Plans include goals, course of action and analysis of execution of action in meeting the goals.

Try mailing out your menu with a letter similar to this: … letter.pdf

Tri-fold the menu and letter so that the headline of the letter is facing out so that’s the first thing the person sees when they open the envelope.

If you haven’t already done so, print out Nicks post, hang it over your desk, over your bed, and in your car!
This part of the business is very, very different than the pizza production part, but just as important.

Develop that marketing plan, with estimated costs, and review it with your partner. Know that it will change frequently throughout the year. But once you have a working plan, you’ll able to sift through the multiple advertising options that will walk through your door, or ring your phone, every week.

Also, as you are developing your plan, note how many strategies on Nicks list cost little or nothing, except your time, and some free food. Thats a real nice place to start!

Finally, often your $2 and $5 coupons are ineffective because the customer is not familiar with your product and prices. She doesn’t know if $5 off your large pizza makes it a great value at $7, or a not so great value at $22. And if she doesn’t like your pizza, even $7 isn’t a value to her. So its easier to keep ordering from her usual place, instead of going to the trouble to figure you out. But if she had an opportunity to try you first, at her office, or a fair, or a blood drive, and she loved it, even regular price might be a value!

Remember, any dumb_ss can give pizza away…we’re here to make $