Sowilso11: I’ve started a new pizza shop in my town, and I’m looking for various ways to promote it. I have already approached a flyer distribution service, but I’m worried whether these flyers are still a popular promotional tool. Should I try more advanced strategies, like internet marketing, email marketing and SEO? How do you think the results will differ in each of these strategies?
royster13: Every shop is different in terms of location, style, competition, etc., so every method of marketing can bring different results. In my opinion, nothing beats a nice-looking shop with “curb appeal” to bring in customers that travel past your store. Also near the top of my list are wrapped delivery vehicles with your restaurant’s logo. These extend your “curb appeal” to a wider audience. Distributing menus still works for many operators. But they’re not a one-hit wonder—they need to be distributed on a sustained basis. Some stores circulate menus as often as every four or five weeks to stand out from their competition. Others do it only a few times a year if they already have an established client base or don’t have to worry about aggressive competition. I’m not sure if SEO and email marketing are necessarily “advanced” or simply different. Some shops rely solely on those methods and do quite well without any traditional marketing.
Samantha T.: Tried-and-true methods of printing menus and flyers are always a good bet, but they are very expensive and provide limited return. SEO marketing is key so that you can show up organically when someone searches for pizza in your town. Make sure that you or a trusted third-party partner owns/manages your Google My Business listing. It’s the item that appears on the right-hand side of a Google search when you search for your pizzeria. It usually includes photos, a map, and links to online ordering or your website. This listing will drive a lot of traffic to your site, so it’s key to keep it up-to-date.
bodegahwy: I disagree with one point made by Samantha T. Organic search falls below paid search in listings, and it often doesn’t even show up on a smartphone unless the searcher scrolls down. And the right-hand listing of a Google search is really only an issue on desktops. When I look at my data, I’m seeing more than 90% using mobile devices. However, admittedly, I’m located in a resort market, where people searching for restaurants are on vacation and away from their home computers. For us, I think a focus on mobile users and paid search is the top priority.
Lee Kim: I bought my shop exactly a year ago and started a direct-mail program. Since then, we’ve more than doubled our business, and we keep setting new records almost every week. We’re located in metro Los Angeles, where there’s a lot of competition. We haven’t done any SEO thus far, but I probably will as soon as I get around to it.
Karl Pilz: For SEO, you really just have to make sure your website metadata is set so that your pizzeria shows up relatively high when someone searches Google for “pizza [insert your town’s name]”. Yelp, TripAdvisor and similar sites will most likely show up before your site in these listings, because they have a lot of authority and history. There’s not much you can do about that. But maintaining correct website metadata should help you show up in the middle of page 1 of the listings, which is good. Paying someone a monthly fee for SEO is a complete waste of money (and, yes, a lot of people are paying for it).