The Captain Hook Strategy: 5 Creative Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Pizzeria

Looking for ideas to drive more traffic to your pizzeria over the coming year? Here are five creative suggestions from the marketing master himself, Tom Feltenstein:

1. The Captain Hook Strategy—A highly targeted way to promote yourself right in your own neighborhood is to appoint or hire someone to be your pizzeria’s “Captain Hook.” This person’s job will be to go out into the community for an hour or so each day and “hook” prospective customers. Choose someone with outstanding people skills and a complete knowledge of your pizzeria and everything on the menu. That person should spend some time each day visiting neighborhood businesses, offering free pizzas or appetizers and handing out lunch/dinner menus, catering menus and coupons. The coupons should be good for a specific product and must be used by a specific date to get the best results. The recipients of these visits will be surprised and delighted, especially if Captain Hook shows up around lunchtime with some great-smelling pizzas. They’ll all remember your restaurant, and they’ll also tell your friends and coworkers!

2. Home Team Support. Here’s a way to show your support for local sports teams and earn their support as well. If your local team—and this should include both boys’ and girls’ sports—hits a scoring level that you set, every fan who presents a ticket stub from that game gets a free pizza or appetizer. During each sports season, set attainable goals for the home team to achieve. You might want to review some basic stats for your teams to make sure that goal will be achieved at least once during the season—you don’t want to make it impossible but you don’t want to make it too easy either. For example, the offer is good when the basketball team scores more than, say, 80 points in a single game or if the baseball team wins a game by three runs or more. Do the same for football, soccer, hockey, softball and other locally popular sports. This can be applied to both high school and college teams if local support for the teams is strong. Advertise the promotion on your pizzeria’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, distribute flyers at games, put posters up around your restaurant and reach out to the coaches and booster clubs to spread awareness. List the specific scoring goals in all relevant literature to establish the integrity of your offer.

3. Art Appreciation. Set up a window-decoration contest for local schoolchildren, and make it a big deal. Target a certain grade—say, the second or third grade—from area schools and coordinate the promotion with school officials and teachers. With permission, distribute flyers to the schools. Each class gets a large windowpane in the front of the store and is encouraged to create a special design—perhaps for Christmas, Halloween or some other holiday occasion—and paint the window. After a pre-determined amount of time, bring in local “celebrities” to act as judges, such as the mayor, a local TV news anchor or DJ, and award prizes. This promotion will attract kids—who are a major force in deciding where families eat when they dine out—as well as their parents and other relatives, plus, of course, school teachers and other school employees.

4. Workin’ at the Car Wash. Offer to host a car wash for local organizations looking to raise funds, such as school bands, sports teams or other groups. You supply the location and the water and take care of advertising the event through social media, flyers, etc. Let the group set up outside and draw attention to your pizzeria! Make sure you have enough personnel on hand to handle the crowd, and ask the group’s members to hand out bounce-back coupons to every person who gets his car washed.

5. Library Amnesty Day. Work with officials at your local public libraries to arrange an amnesty day on which anyone holding an overdue library book can return it to your business without paying a fine. Libraries like this program because they get back books that normally would never be returned, and you’ll get a crowd of people that may have never tried your pizzeria before. Promote the program via social media, in-store posters and posters at the libraries themselves. In addition, send out press releases to the local papers, preferably written by the libraries on their letterhead.

Excerpted from “501 Killer Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales, Maximize Profits and Stomp Your Competition,” by Tom Feltenstein.