One of the most popular forms of advertising in the pizza business is fliers.  Customers almost expect to receive a few in the mail each week to tell them the new pizza prices and combos being offered in their neighborhood.  They hold onto them for the next Friday night they don't feel like cooking, or the next time they have a bunch of people over studying, renovating or watching movies.

This highly effective way of bringing people into your restaurant has been used extensively by the major pizza chains.  Of course, they have the budget for lots of color, the best designers and volume printing.

For an independent pizzeria or a small chain, the cost and effort that must be put into a good flier can be daunting.  But for those who can think creatively, both in design and financing, putting our fliers can be worth it.

Design It

"If you're going to do it, you've got to do it well," advises Joe Albis of Roma Restaurant Supply.  With the advent of desktop publishing, people are exposed to top-quality design everywhere they go.  Your customers may be getting a newsletter from their dentist that will knock your socks off.  So making your flier look good is of utmost importance.

Peter Kaltenrieder of Nomis Management suggests employing a designer and going to that person with ideas of your own.  With two sets of ideas, you can put together something original and effective.

But if your POS system or your computer at home has basic design software, you can do some of the work yourself.  Make sure you know the program well before you start.  Practice putting together tent cards, small posters or other printed materials before you attempt a flier.  When you're finished, you can take the disk to where you're getting it printed-provided the printer has the same software-and they can finish off some of the details, like adjusting colors or dropping in pictures.

When it comes to making your flier effective, there are some basic design rules that can help ensure your message comes across:

  • Use color.  However, just because you have color at your disposal, don't use every shade you can think of.  Pick a few that work together, go with your restaurant concept, and seem appetizing with food pictures.  If you can't afford four-color, a single color is less expensive and can also be effective.
  • Keep typeface simple.  Again, pick just a few and make sure they can be read.  Fancy scripts are very attractive, but they are impossible to read.  Make sure type on top of pictures can be read.
  • Overall, keep it simple.  Many fliers are so busy customers don't know where to look.  Make sure your customers' eyes go first to the art, then to the message.

One of the most important aspects of the design is the pictures.  Colorful, high quality shots of the pizza you're advertising are pretty much expected in a flier.  Make sure those shots are done properly and look appetizing.

But don't forget, everyone uses pizza pictures.  "I see so many pictures of a slice of pizza with dripping cheese.  It's so old," says Peter Kaltenrieder.  He likes the idea of getting a cartoonist to draw pizza or other related images to make a flier unique.

Writing It

The layout of a flier will make people look at it, but it's the words that sell your product and advertise your restaurant. In general:

  • Use short, catchy phrases.
  • Always promote your food with appetizing language.
  • Overall, make sure the writing is clear, suitable for all ages, and there are no spelling or grammar errors.

"In the wording, price is the most important thing," says Joe Albis.  Customers who look to a flier are looking for a bargain.  The price should be large, clear and understandable.

If your prices aren't dirt cheap, you've got to focus on something else.  If you charge more but produce a quality product, convey that in your flier.  In concise, interesting words, let people know you use real cheese, lots of high-quality toppings and fresh dough.  Since fliers should coincide with a promotion of some kind, you can focus on that in the text.  But be careful of promising too much or calling your pizza the best in town-these things can get you into trouble later.

You can use your flier to convey a message about the kind of business you run.  "Connect to the community."  Peter Kaltenrieder suggests.  "Every three months, tell the community you're there and thank them for being there."  Explain what's unique about your restaurant.

To Coupon or Not

A major flier component is a coupon.  "If you can save a dollar or two dollars, that's what will bring the guy in," says Joe Albis.

The Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association's findings agree.  In its Eating Out Survey, which was compiled last spring, the CRFA found that 38% of respondents were likely to make a restaurant purchase with a "buy-one-get-one-free" coupon and 31% due to a "money-off" coupon.  These were the most effective deals that a restaurant could offer.  The least effective were frequent buyer and membership cards and merchandise promotions.

Inform Yourself

Fliers are great for business, but they are not cheap to make.

However, with a little creative thinking, they can be affordable.  While it's preferable to use a designer, you don't have to go to the most expensive design firm in town.  Freelance or art students, provided they have the equipment, may be just as good and a lot cheaper.  A designer can also help you find a photographer, illustrator and printer, and may coordinate the whole project for you.  Again, look and ask around to find the best deals.

Before you get started, keep your eyes open for other fliers and designed materials.  Think about what you want it to say and how you want it to look.  Never sacrifice the integrity of your business or your product in your advertising.  And if you don't have the budget to put together the most gorgeous flier in the neighorhood, you can at least put enough creative energy into it to make it the most unique.

PMQ thanks Diana Peters, Editor of Canadian Pizza Magazine, for contributing this informative article.  Canadian Pizza Magazine is published bi-monthly by Annex Publishing, Inc. of Delhi, Ontario, Canada.