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Special Delivery: Designing a Better Direct-Mail Marketing Piece

Here's why direct mail is more important than ever for your pizza restaurant's marketing strategy.

  • As effective as online marketing can be, it needs to be combined with direct mail to achieve the best results.
  • To sell more pizza, any direct mail piece should include a strong offer and a clear call to action, says Josh Davis of Mail Shark.

Related: Read our full Q&A with Josh Davis of Mail Shark here.

By Rick Hynum

Everyone loves a special offer on a pizza. You don’t need PMQ to tell you that. But, with inflation driving up prices and whittling away at discretionary income, consumers today are hungrier than ever for a good deal. And Bluedot’s September 2022 “State of What Feeds Us” report found that 43% of consumers these days are checking their mail for restaurant coupons and similar offers—their snail-mail, that is.

“As effective as online marketing can be, the fact remains that it can be a very crowded space with a constant stream of ads that are competing, most of which you don’t stop to see as you scroll by,” says Josh Davis, chief revenue officer for Mail Shark, headquartered in Mohnton, Pennsylvania. “The mailbox is much less cluttered and guarantees that your prospect sees your marketing. You must look at your mail to decide whether to keep it or not, which guarantees your ad is seen by the intended prospect, providing the highest read rate of any marketing channel.”

“There is absolutely a place for direct mail as part of any marketing campaign for any business, particularly pizza,” Steve Heaney, president of Minuteman Press in Toledo, Ohio, told PMQ back in 2020. “Direct mail is a hunting trap—you are trying to get to a very particular demographic.”

Davis notes that direct mail is “hyper-targeted to the exact neighborhoods you want to penetrate. Social media can be hyper-targeted as well. The difference is, not everyone is online to see your advertisements. Direct mail ensures that you touch the exact prospects you’re targeting.”

That doesn’t mean you should abandon digital marketing. On the contrary, Davis says. “Direct mail is a great way to convert prospective customers to go online. With a strong call to action—to order online, download an app or join a loyalty plan with some incentive—it’s a great way to get consumers to act and go online while allowing you to capture customer data, giving you the ability to remarket to those customers again.”

 

Choosing Your Piece

What’s the most effective direct mail piece? Start with a 10.5”-by-17” tri-fold menu, Davis recommends. “With this large format, you get more marketing space than almost any other direct mail piece. It gives you ample space to really tell your restaurant’s story with menu items, pictures, etc., and show your customers exactly what you have to offer.”

Davis points to other strong performers, like postcard magnets—they’ll automatically go on the customer’s fridge—and scratch-off postcards that give the recipient a chance to win something. “For example, one of the most popular is ‘Scratch to win free pizza for a year!’ There is typically one grand-prize winner, and the rest are given some type of discount or special offer that makes them feel like they have won something. You can then use the reverse side of the card for additional offers and other content, making scratch-off postcards a powerful marketing piece.”

Plastic postcards, with the feel and thickness of a credit card and a shiny or glossy finish, are another solid option, Davis says. “They provide the ability to create pop-out offers that are the exact same size as a credit card and fit perfectly in a wallet or billfold, while key-tag offers can be popped out and put on your customers’ keychains.”

“Many consumers hold on to their mail for long periods of time, giving your direct mail marketing message longevity and the ability to create repeat orders.”
— Josh Davis, Mail Shark

The sample direct-mail pieces in this article feature the types of high-value offers recommended by Mail Shark to its pizzeria clients.

 

The Offer and Call to Action

To sell more pizza, any direct mail piece should include a strong offer and a clear call to action, Davis says. For coupons, you need to think strategically. “Many times, pizzeria owners want to run coupons only offering large bundle deals that include very specific items, the reason being to create a larger ticket. However, most markets consist of singles, couples and smaller families, not just large families that a large bundle deal would likely only appeal to.”

Instead, Davis adds, “It’s a best practice to reduce the number of bundle deals and add other offers, such as a generic tiered dollar-off offer, that would appeal to anyone—singles, couples, small families and even large families that want to order what they want without being forced to purchase the specific items in the bundle deal.”

High-value deals that get results include offering $3 off any order of $20 or more or $5 off any order of $30 or more, he says.

Once you’ve hooked them with the deal, you want them to act on it. “We recommend this call to action be something like driving customers to place an order online, joining a rewards program, downloading your app if you have one, etc.,” Davis says. “All of these actions lead to gathering important customer info. It’s critical that you try and gather your customers’ data” so you can keep marketing to them.

“It’s a best practice to reduce the number of bundle deals and add other offers, such as a generic tiered dollar-off offer, that would appeal to anyone—singles, couples, small families, and even large families.”
— Josh Davis, Mail Shark

“Because all of these actions call the customer to go online or to their phone to download something, it’s a best practice to include a QR code that easily takes them to the destination you want,” Davis adds. “Just remember to always include verbiage that explains the purpose of the QR code, like ‘Scan Here to Order Online.’”

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

Heaney recommends incorporating social media into your overall strategy as well—he calls it the “social match” approach. “People are more inclined to take action when they’re seeing a multimedia hit, whether a postcard and then social media; or social media before, during and after a direct-mail campaign. As people see the offer multiple times in multiple places, you’ll get a better result.”

Another great thing about direct mail marketing? It’s built to last. “Many consumers also hold on to their mail for long periods of time, giving your direct mail marketing message longevity and the ability to create repeat orders,” Davis says. “We have call tracking data from a direct mail menu sent out by a local mom-and-pop shop that shows multiple repeat calls from the same menu over time and calls coming in over one year after the menus were sent out. This is the power of direct mail and is a win all around.”  

Rick Hynum is PMQ’s editor in chief.