Monday, March 19, 2018

Why Should I Market?

Time and again, when I question successful pizza operators in the pursuit of sage marketing advice, I'm confronted with the answer, "I don't do any marketing. It's all word of mouth."

I hate that answer. Not because I disagree with it... the truth is, good pizza really does sell itself. I hate the answer because it makes it is detrimental to my long-term job security. (Why have a magazine about marketing pizza if nobody needs to market pizza?) It also gives me nothing to work with.

Okay, fine. So you're selling enough pizza, and don't want to bother with any marketing. Fair enough. But let me give you an argument as to why you SHOULD put more effort into marketing. Everybody loves a story. And everybody IS a story. Without marketing, you let everyone else tell your story. Marketing gives you an opportunity to control your own narrative.  Marketing gives you the chance to reach new customers.

So some of you may be saying "I'm selling all the pizza I can handle. I got enough customers already." Sure... but through marketing you could turn those same  consumers on to higher profit margin menu items and steer them away from high-cost, low-profit pies. That way you could be slinging the same amount of pies, but have an increased profit margin. There's ways to engineer your menu to do that for you. Check out this article for some ideas on how to do that.

Marketing also gives you a chance to cement yourself from one generation to the next. Maybe you're doing fine now, but if you ran brand campaigns in your region, that could help indoctrinate the next generation of consumers into loving the brand and product they grew up with. Once Mom and Dad retire and move to Florida, you need someone to replace them with. Through marketing, you can help ensure the next generation can be buying pizza from the family you leave your pizzeria to when you're ready to retire and hit the bocce courts.

My final point is this: People love to be sold to. The musical Chicago probably puts it best:

Razzle dazzle 'em, and they'll beg you for more!
Give em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em
Back since the days of old Methuselah, everyone loves the big bambooz-a-la!

Everybody wants the ole ballyhoo. But don't take my word for it. I bet you can think of someone who watches the Superbowl just for the ads. 

So now, if I've convinced you to give marketing a try, can I interest you in a subscription to PMQ Pizza Magazine? Tips and tricks delivered monthly to your door, absolutely free! Now even the late, great Billy Mays couldn't beat that offer. (OxyClean not included.)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Pizza History: 3 Factors of the American Pizza Boom

Pizza is big. BIG. HUGE. Even a cursory glance at the big numbers in PMQ's Pizza Power Report makes the the most obvious thing in the world. 

But how did it get so big so fast in the United States? Post-war mid-century American history combined a number of key factors to create the perfect storm in which pizza would become arguably the most dominantly popular food in the U.S. for the next 70 years. 

1. Production: A pizza parlor needs only two pieces of specialized equipment, a heavy stand mixer for the dough and an oven that can hold temperatures over 550F.  A particularly handy person could even build an oven themselves. So long as you weren't trying to open a full-service restaurant with lots of seating and a varied menu, the only expensive piece of equipment you would need to acquire is that stand mixer.

2. Infrastructure: after World War II, the US government had a lot of surplus items they were selling cheap: jeeps, canteens, army boots... and huge Hobart stand mixers. The Hobart mixers were big enough to mix a battalion's bread, and they were going cheap. A vet could get a small business loan from the GI bill, buy himself a mixer, rent a small storefront, build an oven, and viola!  He was in the restaurant business. Just like that. It's a restaurant that can make a lot of pizza efficiently, but it can't make much else. In this bare bones operation, a restauranteur had limited capacity for sit-down traffic and limited menu. And for many folks, that was just fine.

3. Portability: This may, in fact, be the most under-appreciated aspect of the dish. As pizza parlors spread from urban centers, owners realized there was a limit to the walk-in traffic they could expect. They knew from their urban experience many customers were taking the pizza home. How could they replicate that trade in the suburbs? By offering a new service: pizza delivered to the customer's house. And that was the real ticket right there. Delivery.  There is no other food that holds up to travel and portability like pizza. It is the supreme delivery food item. 

With third-party food delivery services coming into the market, and cloud based apps for them, that last point is important to note. Pizza is the supreme delivery food.

The consumer now has an increasing opportunity to get a wide variety of food delivered from any and every type of restaurant. But those slinging pies still maintain a competitive advantage over other food types. Who wants soggy french fries? Or disheveled fajitas? Nobody. That's who. 

If those factors hadn't lined up the way they did...who knows what would've happened? Somewhere, there is an alternate universe in which hardly anybody eats pizza. 

Sucks for those guys.