Get ready for National Pizza Month with these 12 marketing tips

Tasha Satter of Davanni’s teaches local TV personalities how to make pies and spin dough.

1 Get the word out! Contact local TV stations and offer to come to the station, or invite them to the pizzeria for a pizza making class with the anchors or for a “celebrity cook-off” to celebrate National Pizza Month. Mick Stinson, owner of a Davanni’s Pizza & Hot Hoagies location in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and general manager Tasha Satter gave an on-air pizza demo to NBC affiliate KARE 11 viewers in October 2016. Bob Stupka, president and CFO of Davanni’s, joined Satter to teach another master class on CBS affiliate WCCO that same year. Getting featured on local TV news is easier than you think. Start by simply reaching out to the station and pitching an offer. Make sure to show up for the shoot fully prepared, with all the ingredients you’ll need to make your pizza and a brief but memorable spiel about why your pies are the best in town.

Fans of Pizza Pizza competed for a $150 gift card in a hugely successful National Pizza Month promotion last October.

2 Announce in September that you’ll be randomly giving away a pizza per day or week in October to someone who has ordered at least three pizzas during the last three months (a great way to bring in more orders and gather customer info in September). Large pizza chains will typically sponsor special promos or giveaways for the month of October, such as two-for-one pies or pizza-related swag. Or advertise a pizza party giveaway on social media. Pizza Pizza, a leading chain in Canada, celebrated its 50th anniversary last October with a gonzo Facebook contest that generated 635 reactions, 709 comments and 202 shares. To win a $150 gift card for a pizza party, fans tagged five friends they would invite to the blowout and described the pizzas they would order. For your giveaway contest, create a hashtag to boost your exposure and choose a high-quality photo—including both pizzas and appetizers—to draw eyeballs to your post.

3 Arrange school field trips to the pizzeria for the month of October. This is a great educational opportunity for younger students. Have them design their own menus, make their own pizzas or learn about how pizza ingredients are grown.

Get the word out! Contact local TV stationsand offer to come to the station, or invite them to the pizzeria for a pizza making class with the anchors or for a “celebrity cook-off.”

4 Offer a different specialty pizza every day of the month for October. According to PMQ’s 2017 Pizza Power Report, spicy flavors particularly resonate with today’s palates, as evidenced by the spicy red sauce option offered by Blaze Pizza, and Pieology Pizzeria’s LTO offerings: the Spicy Southwest (red enchilada sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, roasted red peppers, jalapeños, cilantro and chicken) and the Chicken Chile Verde (green enchilada sauce, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, diced mild green chilies, cilantro and chicken). Create new specialty pizzas and LTOs featuring locally grown, in-season toppings, and explore new flavor profiles and ingredients, such as chorizo, chipotle or Jamaican jerk chicken.

5 For the last week of National Pizza Month, consider offering a Halloween-themed pizza. Halloween is one of the top five pizza delivery days of the year, so why not capitalize? Arrange your toppings as you would a carving on a jack-o-lantern—think spooky designs such as spiders, mummies and ghosts. Or try garlic knots in the shape of bones or mummies, perfect for dipping in “blood” (marinara sauce).

National Pizza Month offers a plethora of opportunities to connect with customers and boost sales.

6 Share a short pizza-related video each day on social media, focusing on fun pizza facts, recipes, dough making, or a behind-the-scenes look at your business. YouTube is an outstanding source for a plethora of pizza-related videos and, in most cases, is free to share!

California Pizza Kitchen announced its weekly Pizza Memories 2017 Sweepstakes winners in Facebook posts throughout National Pizza Month.

7 Hold a contest! You can ask customers how they celebrate Pizza Month, with a special pizzeria-created hashtag for them to post on social media. The entrant with the best response (the most likes or shares) can win a free pizza per week for the rest of 2018. Or tap into customers’ memory banks, as California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) did last year for the Pizza Memories 2017 Sweepstakes. CPK invited members of its Pizza Dough Rewards Program to reminisce about their favorite pizza experience for a chance to win free pizza for a year. To qualify, customers posted their pizza memories on Twitter with the hashtag #CPKPizzaMemories or emailed their stories to the company. CPK picked a different winner every day, making October unforgettable for 31 pizza lovers. Create your own pizza memories contest on social media and start promoting it in advance. Look for heartwarming stories or funny anecdotes, and award extra points for originality and vivid writing!

8 Ask customers to create their dream specialty pie, then narrow down the entries to the top three or five finalists and offer them for Pizza Month. Whichever gets the most orders that month makes the permanent menu, or can run as a special limited-time offer for the rest of the year.

9 Create an “Instagramable area” (with props) in the pizzeria for customers to snap selfies and post on social media. The most creative pic of the month (or one chosen each week) can win a prize. Make sure customers tag your pizzeria in their posts to gain entry into the contest!

10 For pizzerias with full bars, introduce pizza-themed cocktails, with ingredients like basil, tomato, or mozzarella-and-olive skewers. Enzo Cangemi of New York’s Ovest Pizzoteca & Bar offers the La Margherita cocktail, meant to imitate the flavor profile of the classic pie, with tomato, basil and even mozzarella. In a 2009 Las Vegas-based contest, bartenders were invited to create their finest pizza-themed cocktails. The winning drink, a collaboration by bartender Steve Dorsey, mixologist Bobby Gleason and chef Randy Sanderson, was the Wood-Fired Black Margarita Pizza Cocktail. Its outside-the-box ingredients—Italian sausage-infused Jim Beam Black Label whiskey, pizza sauce, fresh basil, garlic, buffalo mozzarella and red pepper flakes, to name a few—were served in a hollowed-out green pepper.

If you use locally grown ingredients on your pizzas, look for memorable—and, if possible, newsworthy—ways to partner with your suppliers during National Pizza Month.

Josie the milk cow (above) tagged along with dairy farmer Clint Jackson on deliveries for Smoky Mountain Pizzeria & Grill in October 2017.

11 Use National Pizza Month to showcase locally obtained ingredients. The marketing masterminds at Smoky Mountain Pizzeria & Grill, with locations in Idaho and Utah, milked October by celebrating local dairy farmers last year. For select pizza deliveries on October 6, dairy farmer Clint Jackson showed up on customers’ doorsteps in Eagle, Idaho, with a 500-pound jersey heifer named Josie. Since Smoky Mountain uses only Idaho cheese on its pies, it was a headline-grabbing way to honor local suppliers while also generating incredible word-of-mouth. If you use locally grown ingredients on your pizzas, look for memorable—and, if possible, newsworthy—ways to partner with your suppliers during National Pizza Month. Promote your local growers’ produce in social media posts, create pizzas that spotlight their ingredients, and feature suppliers in videos to raise their profile in the community.

Grotto Pizza, which touts the “legendary taste” of its pies, used National Pizza Month to attract new customers to its Swirl Rewards Club loyalty program.

12 Build up your email list and loyalty program in October by offering bonus points, special giveaways or discounts exclusively to members in honor of National Pizza Month. Grotto Pizza, with locations in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, boosted its Swirl Rewards Club membership last year by awarding 50 bonus points to every customer who signed up and downloaded the company’s loyalty app in October. To sweeten the deal for your fans, you can also provide instant gratification by automatically giving away a free pizza to every person who signs up for your loyalty program and entering them into a contest to win free piesfor a year.