How to sell more pizza through video marketing

Here’s how to create traffic-building video content that will engage customers using a medium they already love and understand


YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google and the second most popular social media platform behind Facebook. When you’re considering adding video to your marketing plan, stats like those can be pretty significant. According to eMarketer, four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

“Marketing that uses text and still images is great, but it generally engages your audience for only a few seconds,” says James Broderick, owner of The Little Italy Pizza Co. in Sleaford, England. “We want people to take their time when looking at our advertisements. Videos tend to engage people for a lot longer and let you get more information across to a potential customer.”

“Video is becoming increasingly important as viewing habits change,” agrees Doug Marrs, vice president of client services at StudioNow in Nashville. “Video has the power to move people and to reach them like no other medium can.”

You may already be dabbling in video marketing, but are you getting the results you want? Earning views is one thing, but does your content engage your customers and bring in more business? “Your ultimate goal is not to promote a video,” says Brian Belefant, founder and creative director at Belefant and 20Fifteen in Portland, Oregon. “It’s to promote a restaurant.” So let’s take a look at the types of content and quality that can get you the results you’re seeking. 

“Marketing that uses text and still images…engages your audience for only a few seconds. Videos engage people for a lot longer and let you get more information across to a potential customer.”
—James Broderick, The Little Italy Pizza Co.


Creating Content

Most marketing experts recommend hiring video professionals rather than putting out amateurish content. “Do what you’re good at. What you’re not so good at, get someone else to do,” says Brian Belefant.

Lost for ideas? Start with what you know. According to Google, “how-to” searches on YouTube are up 70% year over year. A quick YouTube keyword search also shows that people are interested in “how to make pizza dough” and “how to make pizza at home.” These are both simple videos that you can create right in your pizzeria.

“Your loyal fans will always support you, whether you’re making videos of your employees or telling stories about your recipes,” says Belefant. “Where you’ll really make a difference is when you connect with the non-fans—the people who are everything from indifferent to favorable. You might find that, for example, your pizza really reminds your customers of Italy. If you hear that enough, maybe [your video should] take the angle that you offer an authentic Italian experience and give people information about Italy. By having content about Italy for people interested in Italy, you’re a lot more credible when you claim to make Italian pizza.”

Marrs notes that content marketing is on the rise, with video that is a blend of advertising and editorial. “Imagine a documentary-style profile of your business featuring great shots that highlight its unique selling proposition,” he says. “The video is part educational, part entertainment and part salesmanship, but in a softer way. This video can be longer and linked to more videos that feature customer testimonials, special recipes or a pizza expert offering tips. All of a sudden, a single message becomes a full conversation. This type of marketing is more engaging than a traditional ad and leads to a better customer experience. The payoff is that it’s easily shared via the simple click of a button.”

Pizzerias also find success with filming their involvement in community events. “Joe Aurelio did a promotion in which he delivered a pizza to the 94th floor [of the John Hancock Center] to the medic staff during the ‘Hustle Up the Hancock’ event in Chicago,” says John Romans, director of franchise management at Homewood, Illinois- based Aurelio’s Pizza. “I had the idea of strapping a GoPro camera to Joe so we could document the event. I’ve also done some testing with using drone-based virtual tour videos with a company out of Mokena, Illinois, for our Arlington Heights store. I want to give the potential customer the ultimate walk-through experience.”

Joe Aurelio, son of the founder of Aurelio’s Pizza, makes extensive use of video to share his company’s story with tech-savvy consumers.


Quality Control

With everything from six-second videos for Vine to 20-minute mini-movies, how do you decide how long your video should be? “The video should be exactly as long as it needs to be in order to tell the story,” Belefant says. “What’s great about online video is that we’re not constrained by artificial time limits the way we are on television. Thirty seconds might be a perfect amount of time to communicate a message, but a lot of times it isn’t.”

What really matters is the quality, not the length, of your video content. According to a Brightcove survey of 1,200 consumers who watch online videos, 62% are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that posts a poor-quality video. So how do you ensure that your videos don’t fall into this category? 

“Do your research,” Broderick says. “Plan exactly what you’re going to shoot, how long your video will be, where you will shoot it and how you’ll edit it, then double-check every single thing before it’s uploaded anywhere. Take your time to learn how your [video editing] software works. Don’t just play around until you get something that looks reasonable. A quality video will continue to engage your customers for a long time after it’s posted.”

And keep in mind that good quality includes good sound. Most videographers agree that spectacular lighting and perfect video montages won’t amount to a hill of beans if your sound quality is poor. Invest in a lapel or directional mic that allows you to deliver quality sound in your videos. “Sound is more important than lighting,” confirms Belefant. “Oftentimes, we can shoot with the light that’s there or modify it a little to make it work better on video. Sound is trickier—you need to isolate what’s important from what’s extraneous.”

“The video should be exactly as long as it needs to be to tell the story. Thirty seconds might be a perfect amount of time to communicate a message, but a lot of times it isn’t.”
—Brian Belefant, Belefant and 20Fifteen


Hiring a Pro

Quality is king, so is it in your best interest to hire a professional? Opinions vary. “I don’t see that it’s necessary to involve professionals, unless you’re shooting a short movie,” Broderick says. “There’s so much free and cheap software available, such as Windows Movie Maker, and good-quality digital cameras have come down in price. So, with a little effort, you can get a professional-looking video at a budget price. We shoot most of our videos with an iPhone 6 or a $300 camera on a cheap tripod. We use PowerPoint to create our product showcase, which plays on televisions in our store, by taking still images and overlaying text and graphics.”

But most video experts will tell you that shooting good video requires talent and skill—it’s not a job for amateurs. “I would recommend against a pizzeria owner shooting his own video for the same reason I would recommend against a videographer making his own pizza,” Belefant says. “Do what you’re good at. What you’re not so good at, get someone else to do. ”

Aurelio’s Pizza uses Launch Digital, a professional video company in Naperville, Illinois. “We decided to use them to produce our videos because we know pizza, and they know video,” Romans says. “Anyone can shoot a video, but having the right equipment, the ability to edit, and knowing how to market your videos to your customers can make all the difference.”

PMQ test chef Brian Hernandez channeled his “Darth” side last year for a fun Halloween-themed recipe video on PizzaTV.


Matching Media

Research shows that videos uploaded directly to Facebook have 10 times higher reach than YouTube links that are shared on Facebook. In other words, posting your video to YouTube is a good idea, but uploading it directly to your Facebook page is an even better one. It allows your Facebook fans to more easily share your video with fellow users and keeps them on your page.

“Facebook is, by far, our biggest and best marketing tool, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” Broderick says. “It’s completely free, and the bulk of our customers are on there. And every time they engage with one of our posts, many of their friends see it, too. We also upload all of our videos to YouTube so that they’re easily found once they drop off Facebook’s radar.”

Video has also been shown to hold the interest of visitors on company websites. The website for Aurelio’s Pizza offers a textbook example of how to use online video to hook visitors. Footage depicts various scenes from Aurelio’s stores, including close-ups of pizzas and salads, customers enjoying their meals and Joe Aurelio tossing dough. “We use video to give the customer a small look inside the kitchens of Aurelio’s,” Romans says. “Having the video on our main page creates interest in our page, and the time spent on our website has dramatically increased since converting it last year.”

If you want to compete with the chains in your area, now is the time to hit the “play” button on your video marketing campaign and get started. Don’t miss the opportunity to showcase your business and engage your customers using a medium they love and understand. 

Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large and author of Pizza: A Slice of American History. 


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