To stay competitive in the crowded fast-casual segment, toss out traditional marketing tactics and think outside the box to attract new customers.
Pizza Reigns Supreme
Americans have a love affair with pizza. Placing a pizza order is a Friday night tradition at homes across the country — 43 percent of people eat it every week. In the U.S., pizza restaurants are forecast to generate revenue of $55.5 billion this year alone. Fueled in part by the growth of the fast-casual pizza segment, the pizza market is slated to grow by $42.2 million by 2025, according to a report by Technavio, a market research firm.
Increasing demand for high-quality, fresh ingredients and speedy service is helping propel the popularity of fast-casual pizza chains. Customers admire the engaging customer service, and made-to-order menu items served in a sleek, modern atmosphere.
Growth chains like Blaze Pizza, MOD Pizza, Pieology Pizzeria, and Your Pie are cropping up across the nation as demand for the fast-casual pizza segment booms. Founded in 2011, Blaze Pizza has grown to more than 340 locations and landed a spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list in 2022.
Fresh Pizzeria Marketing Tips
Many fast-casual pizza chains expand their market share by adding family-style options, larger pizzas, and delivery service. By implementing delivery and curbside pickup, fast-casual chains have the opportunity to compete with major players in the industry, like Domino’s Pizza, Papa Johns, and Pizza Hut.
With more than 20 years of experience helping pizza chains add loyal customers, I’ve learned how to get the best return on investment for our partners. Direct mail remains a tried-and-true technique to draw customers, but there are fresh, new strategies that can generate buzz about your individual brand.
Launch a mobile app. Offering customers a mobile app can help streamline online ordering and facilitate curbside pickup and delivery with just a few taps on their mobile phones. Mobile apps are a cost-effective method to improve customer convenience and provide brand visibility. Apps can also provide tie-ins with customer loyalty programs and display updated specials.
Turn to TikTok. It’s likely Facebook and Instagram already play a central role in your social media marketing. If you haven’t already started a TikTok account for your restaurant, now is the time. There are more than 84.9 million active TikTok users in the U.S., and nearly 81 percent of them use the platform to learn about new stores, products and brands. TikTok can help you increase customer engagement and connect with local influencers who may promote your business. Once you set up your account, you can use TikTok to debut new menu items, provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the kitchen, or launch a contest. The possibilities are limitless.
Build local SEO. Concentrating on building local search engine optimization can help make your restaurant a fixture in your community. Building your local SEO will help your restaurant come up as a top search result when community members conduct a search.
Enhance food photography. Mobile phones are enabling everyone to be a photographer. The average American takes 20.2 pictures per day—scrolling through your feeds reveals a lot of those pictures are of food. Enhancing your food photography puts your dishes on center stage and helps attract foodies, influencers, and everyday customers who appreciate a well-plated dish.
Text messaging campaign. When life gets busy, people turn to pizza for an easy, delicious dinner. Launching a text messaging campaign can keep your pizzeria top of mind as people make last-minute dinner plans. It’s also an ideal platform for delivering information about special deals.
New mover marketing. Americans continue to abandon cities and head to the suburbs for a higher quality of life and lower cost of living. The pandemic outbreak exacerbated the trend as Americans are now even less likely to prefer living in cities. Only 19% of Americans preferred city life in 2021, versus 23 percent in 2018, according to Pew Research. Developers are helping replicate the city atmosphere in an accessible setting by providing multi-use communities that include retail components. These small-town centers provide ideal locations for fast-casual restaurants to flourish.
More than 27.1 million people moved in 2021 alone. Targeting new movers as they change residences or head to the suburbs allows businesses to add new customers before they form loyalties with the competition. To capture new movers, Our Town America mails new residents a welcome package filled with proven one-time-use housewarming offers. Customers appreciate receiving a gift certificate to the local pizza joint as they unpack boxes and settle into their new homes. All you need to do is deliver superior customer service to encourage repeat business. We can even send a follow-up offer after the customer’s first visit to help encourage brand loyalty.
Deliver Solid Messaging
No matter which marketing tactics you decide to employ as part of your omnichannel marketing strategy, fast-casual pizza chains should pay special attention to the messaging. Make sure to focus on the aspects of your eatery that give it a leg up on the competition. I suggest providing detailed information about ingredient quality, speedy cook times, and dietary accommodations. Combining eye-catching messaging with innovative marketing strategies will ensure your pizza restaurant becomes a weekly favorite.
After serving the country as a US Army Medic, Michael Plummer, Jr. returned to the family business (Our Town America, the nation’s premier New Mover Marketing franchise started by his father in 1972) in 2001 to work in the IT department. 15-plus years later, Plummer now leads the business as its CEO and CTO, using his extensive technology/data experience to make Our Town America the savviest analytical player in the industry.