Domino’s is doing some deep discounting this week, so independent pizzeria operators need to be ready.

As the back-to-school season approaches, the national chain is promising 50% off all menu-priced pizzas that are ordered online through August 20. “Since summer is winding down, we wanted to give customers a special deal to enjoy during the last few days of the season, and what better deal than half off pizza?” said Kate Trumbull, Domino’s senior vice president/chief brand officer, in a press release.

Domino’s fans can take advantage of the half-off deal via carryout or delivery, including Domino’s Pinpoint Delivery, which allows customers to receive a delivery nearly anywhere, such as parks, baseball fields and beaches.

With the world’s No. 1 pizza chain selling its food for cheap and making it so easy to order, independents should think about ramping up their own marketing efforts. Here are a few ideas:

Related: The Secret Message: Text your way to pizza marketing success

This photo shows one of Cam's Pizzeria's crazy slices, this one topped with gummy worms and crumbled cookies.

The Worms & Dirt Crazy Slice at Cam’s Pizzeria

  1. Create a menu item that will get people talking. Giuliana Calascibetta, the district manager of Cam’s Pizzeria in Rochester, New York, is known as Pizza Princess G on Twitch, but Instagram fans know her as the queen of the crazy slice. Each week, she unveils a new specialty pizza that’s often decidedly but delightfully weird. We’re talking toppings like fish sticks and tartar sauce or fried wontons and duck sauce. Not every crazy slice is particularly crazy; she’ll also promote limited-time pies like a cheeseburger or taco pizza. But the next week, she’s offering gummy worms and crumbled cookies. Every crazy slice is featured in quick, high-energy Instagram reels that garner tens of thousands of views. Because when one of her reels pops up in your feed, you’re gonna watch.
  2. Focus on telling your own authentic story. This is one of the biggest advantages a local independent pizza shop has over a chain like Domino’s. You’re deeply embedded in the community, and you’ve got a history there. Jump on your social media channels, and share pictures and videos of your customers. Talk about how you make one of your most popular pies and how you came up with the recipe. Show off that new grandbaby. Put your staff front-and-center. Let them share their stories in their own words. And, yes, put yourself out there, and let your customers get to know you. Domino’s can deliver pizza in a hurry. But you can build personal connections that will last.
  3. Create special offers for your loyalty program members. Give them an exclusive sneak preview of a tempting new menu item, a limited-time deal on a large pizza, or a cold, refreshing beverage or beer for free. Reward them with free garlic knots on an order of $25 or more. Tip them off about a free-delivery offer during slower periods. And make sure they know it’s an exclusive offer—for their eyes only—so they’ll feel like VIPs.
  4. Hit customers up with text offers. Is it a nice day outside? Shoot them an impromptu text about your patio dining area or your craft beer options. Use text to send a customer feedback poll and give members 15% off their next order if they respond. What’s their favorite specialty pizza on your menu, or what new dessert would they like you to add to the menu? (Offer multiple choices.) Remember: Every text gets read, and 90% of texts are opened within three minutes.
  5. Create a sense of urgency. Finally, make sure that every special offer has an expiration date—the sooner the better to ensure prompt action on the customer’s part. The offer should expire within two or three days and be available only during certain periods of the day to drive extra business.
Marketing, Domino's