A little girl with cancer awoke from a nap in her hospital room recently to the smell of fresh pizza-more than 20 pies, in fact, all sent by well-wishers from around the country. The parents of two-year-old Hazel Hammersley, who's being treated at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles for High-Risk, Stage 3 Neuroblastoma, had placed a sign on Hazel's window that said, "Send Pizza RM 4112." The sign was a joke, meant to lighten the mood and make Hazel laugh. But soon a photo of the sign went viral on Reddit.com, and the pizzas came rolling in – so many that Hazel ended up hosting a pizza party for other sick children on her floor. So many pizzas arrived that the hospital finally had to put out a request asking for the deliveries to end. (To make a donation for Hazel's 18-month treatment, click here.)
You don't have to spend a lot of money to promote your pizzeria. With some creativity, a little time, and maybe a drop or two of elbow grease, you can reach hundreds of potential customers and spend very little – if any – money. Team up with a local charity for an event or drop off pizzas and menus at local businesses. You can also host a hotel concierge night or sponsor a local sports team. These are just a few of the many ways to get your name in front of new customers.
The San Francisco Giants, last year’s World Series champs, may be struggling this season, but All-Star pitcher Matt Cain is doing just fine. As part of a promo by the Patxi’s Pizza chain, he recently surprised two of his young fans—twin boys—by delivering a pizza to their house while hidden cameras recorded the event. Cain’s visit was the prize in a silent auction—won by the twins’ parents—that raised $34,000 for Marin Primary and Middle School in Larkspur, California. Meanwhile, the resulting PR for Patxi’s was an out-of-the-ballpark home run.
Pizza Without Borders
Bizarre Marketing Tactics From Japan
It's not easy to get attention in Japan, a country notorious for its bizarre TV game shows, commercials and ad campaigns. Last year Domino's offered a 25 percent discount to customers with pigtails, dorky T-shirts and even parrots. Meanwhile, the company's smartphone app allows you to mix your own songs and have them sung by a giggling, blue-haired anime character. And Japanese chain Pizza-la gives away free Pokemon memorabilia with every order.
If your pizzeria has cookies (or similar sweets) on the menu, here's a great way to market to kids and their parents. Team up with your local library to offer free cookie passes to kids who take part in reading programs. Ask librarians to hand out the passes at the end of weekly readings or to children who check out books to read at home. Kids have to come to your pizzeria to redeem the cookie passes, and Mom and Dad will usually have to bring them! If you don't offer cookies, give away passes for free kids-size pizzas instead.