Magnetic attraction

Magnets are popular with a variety of business types, for one obvious reason: They provide contact with customers over the long haul. Long after other marketing materials have been thrown in the trash, magnets typically stick around (literally and figuratively) on a fridge months—sometimes years—after they’re obtained. “They’re a low-cost way to advertise with a high return on investment,” says Eric Bogard, marketing director at Magnets.com in Jersey City, New Jersey. “A pizzeria can get dozens of impressions a day where hungry customers are sure to be on the prowl for a bite: the family refrigerator!”

Magnets nowadays also have seemingly endless variations so that you can choose the best format for your business. Whether you want to provide customers with a memo board, a calendar or just a run-of-the-mill business card-size magnet, you have a plethora of options as far as colors, shapes and messages. You can mail them, give them out with orders, or pass them out at local events. Ultimately, when it comes to the way you choose to market yourself with magnets, the sky’s the limit! We spoke to magnet insiders and pizzeria operators to fi nd out how to make magnets work for you.

Q: Why magnets?

A: “My first experience with magnets was when my pizzeria had been open for about four months. I got a big school order and had a local printer make up magnets to put in every pizza box for the school. I hadn’t done any advertising until then, and afterward my sales increased in three weeks by 40% to 50%. That showed me the response you could get. If you’re not using magnets, you’re losing out on the permanent visual impressions that impact your customers every time they go to the fridge.”
–Richard Ames, owner,
Daddio’s Pizzeria (daddios.ca),
Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada
 
“The advantage of using magnets involves the repetition of the advertising message—it’s always in front of your customer. But in this economy, people are also using more coupons, so you can print coupons on your magnets that you can mail as bulk rate, or use as door hangers or box toppers. It costs the same to mail a magnet as it does a postcard, but a coupon magnet mailed out to customers can more than double the return on your investment.”
–Robert Trope, president,
Magnets by PAC,
Largo, FL
 

Q: What are some new developments or trends in magnets?

A: “Customers can really take advantage of technology at every stage of their orders now. From designing online to checking the status of an order to quickly and easily reordering, the Web provides an environment that’s completely built for the user.”
–Eric Bogard, marketing director,
Magnets.com,
Jersey City, NJ

 

“QR codes! Magnets are now being used as a successful vehicle to get a quick response (QR) code in the customer’s hand. The code has the ability to provide the instant gratification that customers crave, giving quick access to your menu and much more. The content on the QR code can change to reflect new specials, price changes, coupons, etc.—you just make the changes on your landing page. The QR code itself never needs to change, so it’s always current wherever it’s printed.”
–Trope

 

“A couple of years ago, we started offering eco-friendly magnets because our customers were asking for them. Magnets themselves are not renewable, but these magnets are made from recycled magnet material, and the top part has recycled lithograph material. You can’t tell the difference between the
eco-friendly and regular magnets, and even though they cost 30% to 40% more, many clients make the ethical decision to be greener.”
–Jonathan Martin, owner,
CoolBlueLogo,
Seattle, WA

 

“I see a lot of clients using magnets that include baseball or football schedules, or calendar magnets with photos on them. These keep the customers coming in to get the new schedules or calendars and keeps them on the fridge all season or all year long.”
–Donna Weaver, president,
Perfect Image Marketing,
Coram, NY
 
“In this economy, owners are doing more incentives, like ‘Save 10 magnets, get a free pizza.’ Our customers are also using full color to show their food, store front, or even delivery vehicles! Five Star Pizza (fivestarpizza.com) ordered a custom-shape magnet in a Smart car design with their info, since they use a smart car to deliver.”
–Jay Minsker, director of sales,
Off the Wall Magnetics,
Portland, OR

 

Q: How can I make my magnets attract and keep a customer’s attention?

A: “Some people use magnets in wedge shapes; when the customer collects enough to make a whole pie, he gets a free pizza. You have to make sure the phone number on the magnet can be read from 5’ away; that’s the typical distance from the fridge to the telephone. Make sure it’s readable, and that the background color contrasts enough with the lettering. I’ve run promotions before where I say, ‘Bring me a competitor’s magnet and take home my magnet instead, and get a free pizza.’ It gets the other company’s magnet off customers’ fridges and gets new people in the door who can turn into repeat customers. Die-cut magnets also attract a lot of attention; the eye is drawn to unique shapes. I also make for fundraising a magnetic memo board that has my menu printed on back and comes with area business’ coupons; schools can sell it and keep the $5 they charge, and the menu and board stays on the buyer’s fridge for a long time.” –Ames
 
“To stand out, drive loyalty and provide value, some of our pizzeria customers utilize magnets with a coupon for 10% off the next pizza, for example. Several years ago, a pizzeria completely covered its company van with pizza magnets and encouraged passersby to take one. Sales for the weekend and following week were up significantly. In today’s social media climate, a creative campaign like this one is a quick and low-cost way to generate buzz and attract new customers.”
–Bogard
 
“I tell pizzeria customers to make the phone number as wide as the magnet, because it’s the most significant piece of information on the magnet. Your logo doesn’t help them connect to you; the phone number does. I also recommend a black or dark background color with red lettering that is outlined in white to make the text stand out.”
–Royce Schmidt, proprietor,
Glacierwind Specialties, Montrose,
British Columbia, Canada
 
“Our biggest seller is the coupon jumbo magnet, which carries the business’ messages, phone numbers, and various tear-off coupons with special offers.”
–Trope
 
“The most creative and useful one I did was for a real estate company that listed local restaurants and phone numbers on the magnet, and actually did a co-op deal so the local restaurants would hand out magnets to their customers. This was a great idea for keeping the magnet on people’s fridges for a long time! Restaurants, likewise, can partner with local businesses. Also, magnets that can be punched at a pizzeria for a promotion can be handed out to customers in-store or mailed out.”
–Weaver
 

Q: What questions should I ask a magnet manufacturer before ordering?

A: “Not all magnets are created equal, so ask about the thickness of the magnet. A 2-millimeter thickness can barely hold itself up on a surface, but a 5-millimeter one can hold papers or pictures; and if the magnet doesn’t hold, it won’t stick around. Ask if the magnet is coated; these will stand up longer. If you don’t have someone graphically capable to do your design, it might be well worth the setup fees to get professional help. ”
–Ames
 
“Understand the complete cost of the product; vendors can add on extra fees for designing artwork, setup, full-color printing, etc., which can quickly balloon. Also, what kind of service does the company provide—do they provide consultations, do they go above and beyond?”
–Bogard
 
“Look for no extra charges for setup or color. Make sure the manufacturer can offer at least some art tweaking if what you send in isn’t exactly right. And always look for manufacturer specials. Have the person who does your graphics produce the art for any promotional items; the company can supply parameters and, in some cases, templates.”
–Frank Kingston Smith, vice president,
Showline Promotional Products,
Scottsdale, AZ
 
“Some people are concerned about magnets that are made overseas due to materials that could be harmful if, for example, a kid put one in his mouth, so you might want to ask where they’re made. Make sure there are no surprises as far as costs, and check the supplier’s mailing address. There are bogus manufacturers out there who will list a PO Box address—if they don’t come through, can you find them?”
–Schmidt
 
“Ask about the weight of the magnet—shipping can be expensive. Ask for a proof to approve before it goes into production. Ask the supplier for any ideas from a promotional perspective.”
–Weaver