All too often we talk to pizzeria owners that claim that they don’t do any marketing for their pizzeria. But in reality, everything you do that leaves an impression on your customers is marketing. Every day, you make decisions on how you treat your customers, how you prepare your pizzas, and how you run your business. Each of those decisions impacts how your customers perceive you, and whether or not they will be back.
Your restaurant’s branding
A big part of your pizzeria’s brand is your physical store-front, whether you have one location or 500. How you design your floor plan, whether you have seating or take-out only, how clean your restaurant is, and what information you choose to display all help build your restaurant’s brand.
Kevin Wade, owner of Previti Pizza in Manhattan, purposely matched his pizzeria’s branding with the heritage building that his restaurant is in. “I [also] wanted to create that authentic look inside my building. Just to keep the feel of it,” he told us in a webinar on Pizza Marketplace.
For customers who only ever order delivery, their experience with your brand may be a bit different. They don’t see your perfectly designed restaurant—their only interaction is with your order taker or online ordering menu, your driver, and the packaged food. If they order from a third party, the only control you may have over the customer's impression of your brand is the food and packaging. That’s why it’s really important to pay attention to the small pieces of your brand that go into delivery.
Even during the ordering process (we’ll talk about online ordering below), you need to begin by setting the right customer expectations. If you’ve told a customer that their pizza will be there in five minutes, but it always takes an hour, you’re setting yourself up to lose a customer. Make sure the times you’re quoting your customers are accurate, and that you notify them as soon as possible if anything is amiss. Read the article Setting Customer Expectations: Quoted Delivery Times to find some ways you can use your point of sale to help with this.
Second comes the delivery itself. How well dressed are your delivery drivers? Are they polite, friendly, honest? Your drivers represent your business in the eyes of your customers. Ensure your vehicles are branded with your logo, and if you use driver-owned vehicles, that you have a way of showing that they work for you. If one of your drivers arrives at a customer’s door looking like they just came from a nightclub or a street fight, your customers will associate that with your brand.
Thirdly, there is your packaging. Every restaurant owner knows that how you plate food matters, but for some reason that part gets overlooked when it comes to delivery. Your packaging is a big part of your product. We actually covered this in detail in the article 5 Restaurant Delivery Packaging Mistakes, and number one is a lack of branding.
Your online presence
Build a website for your restaurant. Don’t rely on social media pages alone.
If you don’t offer delivery, a simple webpage with your hours, address, contact information, and menu will suffice. If you do offer delivery, just add a link to your online ordering site instead of writing out your menu. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Your website is the centre of all of your online activity. Review sites, social media pages, news articles, you name it: if it’s online and it’s about your restaurant, it should point back to your website. This is really important for customers to be able to find you and your online ordering site. You can do all of the marketing in the world, but if your customers can’t find your site, they won’t order from it.
Why is it so important that your website be the centre of activity? Other web pages linking to your site essentially help to build its “authority” and signify to search engines that your website is legitimate and trustworthy. We’re not going to go in depth into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in this article, but the main thing that you, as a pizzeria owner, need to understand is that your website is critical in marketing your business.
Like we mentioned above, customers who order online for delivery have very few touchpoints where they will experience your brand—your website being the main one.
There are three crucial elements that every pizzeria ordering site needs:
- It needs to be easy to find and easy to use. Nobody will place orders online if they can’t figure out how. Hungry customers don’t waste time: they will order from someone else.
- It needs to represent your brand. If you have an old clunky website but a sleek new restaurant, customers who visit your website first will assume you restaurant is also sub-par. At the same time, if your in-store brand is fun and vibrant, but your online ordering site is dull and unbranded, your customers will remember the dullness, and not your true brand.
- It needs to be accurate, and send orders directly to the store without losing them along the way. An online ordering site is useless if you don’t get orders from it, right?
We’ve discussed online ordering a fair amount on this blog. Below is a list of articles that provide more information about online ordering:
Google is its own beast. In North America, it is by far the most used search engine. Chances are, you found this article on Google. Like we said above, we’re not going to go into depth about SEO here, but you can find many, many, many SEO resources online.
Instead, we want to share a few restaurant-specific Google features. We put together a few tips in the articles Get Noticed on Google: Tips for Using My Business and Google My Business Primer [New Features for Restaurants], but we really wanted to emphasize that your goal is to get your restaurant listed as a local company. To do that, you have to create a Google My Business profile. In there, you can supply information like your hours, physical address, link to your online ordering site, and link to your website. Your customers can also leave reviews. We’ll discuss responding to them below.
Yelp and Other Review Sites
If Google is a beast, then Yelp is a monster; at least, according to restaurant owners. Find out which review sites are most used by your customers, and are most popular in your area, and ensure you have an account and business listing set up. This way, you can respond to any reviews that may pop up in a timely fashion.
Responding to Reviews
No one likes bad reviews, but if your brand doesn’t have a plan in place for how to deal with them, the review (or your inappropriate response) could go viral—and not in a good way. Put together a company policy that details how your brand should deal with and respond to online reviews, no matter where they appear. By putting that plan together ahead of time, when you are calm and collected, you are giving yourself and your employees a guideline to follow, and can avoid reacting hastily when you are upset by negative comments.
We put together an article detailing industry best practices in Responding to Online Reviews of Your Restaurant. Use these tips to build a policy that works for your restaurant.
Social media is an important part of any business’s online presence. It’s where your customers are able to interact with your restaurant online. Younger demographics look to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn about local restaurants.
We have put together a guide on how to use Social Media for pizzerias, and have a few articles on the topic:
Get your name out there
Every business needs to have a public relations (PR) strategy, regardless of whether they are planning to reach out to the media or not. A thoughtfully considered plan about how to deal with unexpected requests in an “on-brand” way could mean the difference between a positive experience, and a negative one.
In the article Grabbing the Media’s Attention: How to get press coverage for your pizzeria, we discussed specific strategies for getting news and media coverage. We also talked about the different kinds of media that exist, like local newspapers, radio, bloggers, social media, and influencers, and how to get their attention.
A lot of people confuse marketing with advertising. Actually, advertising is just one facet of marketing. To put it simply, advertising is any money spent to promote your pizzeria, including posters at bus stops, banner ads on websites, and ads in the paper.
Michael Stadnicki, owner of Taco Lulu in Chicago, uses Google Ads to advertise his catering services. “It’s really interesting. You can go from zero to hero very quickly with the right strategy on Google,” he told us in a webinar on Pizza Marketplace.
If you offer delivery, Modern Restaurant Management has a great article on advertising your delivery program: Six Ways to Market Your Restaurant’s Delivery Program.
Keep your customers coming back
Does your pizzeria have a customer loyalty program? If not, it is something to consider. It’s always easier—and cheaper—to market to existing customers than to attract new ones.
When it comes to the actual form that your loyalty program takes, the sky's the limit. There are no rules, as long as you are giving your customers something in return for their visits. Be creative, and think outside of the box. We discussed how to design a loyalty program in Designing a Pizzeria Loyalty Program and Restaurant Marketing: Ramping up Customer Loyalty with Reward Programs.
Gift cards are a great way to keep your customers coming back and build your customer base at the same time. When someone is buying a gift card for your restaurant, it is for one of two reasons:
- They love your food and they want to introduce it to someone.
- The intended recipient of the gift card loves your food.
Either way, it’s good for business. So how do you build a profitable gift card program? First, determine the goals of your gift card program; second, select a provider that works with both your point of sale and payment processor; and third, create a marketing plan for your gift cards. We spoke with Paytronix about it in more detail in What Your Restaurant Should Look for in a Gift Card Program.
Reach out to customers directly
First and foremost, you need to be collecting your customers' information and permission to contact them. If your pizzeria offers delivery, you should be collecting customer information already in a customer database in your point of sale. From that starting point, you need to begin collecting email information, and permission for you to contact customers with promotions.
The laws around collecting and storing customer information can be a bit tricky. You can read more about Customer Data Protection Best Practices for Restaurants in a previous article.
Remind your customers to come in for a deal by sending emails. There are a few different types of email that you can use to market your pizzeria, and not all of them are overtly promotional.
Transactional emails are any emails sent with information about the transaction. These include receipts, delivery ETAs and notifications, and order confirmations. If you offer delivery, and use a point of sale that has been designed for delivery, you probably already automatically send these emails to your customers. While these emails need to stay transactional in nature, they can be customized to include special offers for future visits, links, your branding, and any other information you would like to include.
Kevin Wade, owner of Previti Pizza in Midtown Manhattan, finds that his customers are happy to offer up their email addresses in exchange for an emailed receipt of their order. “People jump at giving me their email because they want their pies on time, [and] because they want to know [their pizza is] coming, so for me getting emails is kind of an easy thing to do,” he told us in a webinar on Pizza Marketplace. “And then, once you have the email, you are able to blast them other specials that you have coming up, [and] you can also tell if a customer hasn’t ordered in a while from that. You can send them another special for, you know, “we haven’t seen you in a while, come on in.” [There are] lots of things you can do once you get their emails.”
Promotional emails are any emails that you send to your customers that include special offers, coupons, or discounts.
Dagwoods Pizza regularly sends out emails with special discounts and limited time offers to their email subscribers. These emails include a coupon code, which can be redeemed online, and used by Dagwoods to track how many people respond to the offer.
Do you want to use emails just to stay in contact and stay top of mind with your customers? Email newsletters are emails that are sent out with information about your pizzeria. This could include notices about updated hours, new delivery zones, community events, and more.
Looking for more ideas on using email to increase customer order frequency? Read 8 Ways to Drive Repeat Business with Email Marketing
If you don’t collect emails and permission to contact your customers, but you do offer delivery, you can always send physical mail. Your customer database is full of customer addresses. Use that information to send out targeted mailers encouraging return visits. We talk a bit more about the address information in your customer database in the article Understanding Your Pizza Delivery Market with Heat Maps.
These are just a few methods for marketing your pizzeria. It’s a topic we cover often, so check back for more strategies and best practices.
Posted on Wed, Jan 08, 2020 @ 07:01 AM.
Updated on January 16, 2020 @ 7:35 PM PST.
Posted by Elizabeth Kelly
As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!| Author's website