Pizza may be the ultimate made-for-TV food. It’s as naturally photogenic as Emma Stone and always ready for its close-up. For viewers watching a football game on a Sunday afternoon, the classic “cheese pull”—that stylized, slow-motion shot of a steamy-hot slice oozing gooey strands of cheese as a hand lifts it slowly, seductively, from the pie—has become the culinary equivalent of a sex scene in a Game of Thrones episode. It’s visually arresting and evocative, teasing the imagination with the promise of sensual pleasures to come. It makes you stop and stare. And, unlike the HBO series, it’s family-friendly.
The cheese-pull shot reaches a part of the brain that’s nonverbal and primal, creating a visceral response that skirts the intellect and primes the body for action, which, hopefully, leads the viewer to reach for his phone and place an order on the spot. It’s a feat that video does better than any other medium—mere pretty words, even from the pen of the finest poet, cannot match the power of that one tantalizing, mouthwatering image (and that’s a truth we writers don’t like to admit).
8 billion video views per day
72% now use online video share sites like YouTube and Vimeo
(PEW 2013 research of adult internet users)
4x as many people prefer to watch video about a product than read about it
(Animoto.com, May report)
For a pizzeria owner using the Internet to build brand awareness and drive traffic, video is the new secret weapon. Video will account for 69% of all consumer Internet traffic this year, and that number will rise to 82% in 2020, according to technology firm Contently. And if you’re looking to grab eyeballs on Facebook, video has to be part of your marketing strategy in 2017. Today’s Facebook users watch an average of 100 million hours of video on mobile devices every day, with daily views jumping from 1 billion to 8 billion in a single year, even as text posts keep declining. In fact, Facebook could very well become “all video” in the next five years, Nicola Mendelsohn, the social media giant’s vice president in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London last year. “If I was having a bet, it’d be video, video, video,” she said. She described video content as “the best way to tell stories in this world where so much information is coming at us. It [conveys] so much information in a much quicker period … and helps us digest more of the information in a quicker way.”
Video offers a “very immersive experience” and has become “a critical component to how online customers make decisions,” says Ilir Sela, founder and CEO of Slice, a New York-headquartered company that helps independent pizzerias accept and manage online orders. Paired with Facebook and other social media, video marketing also levels the playing field for pizzeria operators, especially the small chains and single-unit independents, Sela notes. “Consumers spend significant time perusing Facebook, so it’s the perfect place to consume video. If you are hungry and want food quickly, you can order through an app. But if you want to take your time to research restaurants, video is the ideal experience. It may be the difference between a customer ordering from an authentic local shop and a generic, big-box chain restaurant.”
And thanks to digital technology, creating quality video content is no longer an expensive proposition reserved for megabrands like Domino’s and Papa John’s. If you carry a decent smartphone in your pocket or purse, you can be a one-person camera crew, and every delicious-looking pizza that comes out of your oven has real star power. Even professional video crews are more affordable than they used to be. In short, 2017 is the year to add to video to your marketing tool belt, and PMQ Pizza Magazine wants to help.
of Slice Online Ordering
What we learned from the 2016 My Pizza Video Contest
If your company participated in PMQ’s My Pizza Video Contest last year, you’ve already got a leg up on creating content for your pizzeria. We received a total of 32 entries, with the grand prize of $1,000 going to single-unit operator Slice of the 80s in Westland, Michigan. Vibrant and fast-paced, the video captured the lively spirit of the ‘80s-themed pizzeria and the decade that it celebrates, complete with references to everything from hair bands and Ms. Pac-Man to Cyndi Lauper and Beetlejuice.
A panel of six PMQ staffers judged the 2016 contest and narrowed it down to 10 semifinalists from Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Illinois. The top 10 entries included low-budget, found-footage parodies—a man falls mysteriously unconscious in the parking lot of Jimbo’s Pizza in Lemont, Illinois, only to be revived by a slice of pie—and faux documentaries boasting relatively high production values, such as the story of IncrediBear, a break-dancing bear who competes to be the mascot for the John’s Incredible Pizza chain. “They ranged from amateurish to very professionally done,” notes PMQ publisher Steve Green, who personally watched and analyzed every video. “From a strong single message to a catalog of reasons a viewer should buy a pizza, these videos ran the gamut.”
In his analysis, Green concluded that the contest’s submissions could be categorized according to voice (who presented the message) and style/format (how the message was presented).
Voice: Who Presented the Message?
1. The owner(s)
3. Animated characters
4. An off-camera narrator
6. Host personalities not affiliated with the pizzeria
7. Musical score instead of voices
8. No voice, just raw video footage
Style: How Was the Message Presented?
1. Traditional TV commercial
2. Demonstration (pizza making or dough-spinning)
4. Employee testimonial
5. Music video
6. Restaurant profile
7. Short film
8. Movie trailer
Consider This Story an Immersive Experience
Click the “Best Example” images below to be taken to their video entries on PizzaTV.com. Read the text, watch the videos and start brainstorming ideas for your next marketing video. Check out this wrap up video about our first contest results or view all submissions at PizzaTV.com/mypizzavideocontest1.
Video styles that sell more pizza
With the second annual My Pizza Video Contest ready to launch, Green hopes readers will have a better understanding of the medium’s almost limitless possibilities as they work on their submissions. “Seeing how last year’s contest videos were made will give our readers a starting point for creating their own video masterpieces this year,” Green says. “The first and most important consideration needs to be your message and the lasting impression that you want to leave with the viewer.” There are many ways to craft and present your message, and here are examples of some of the most effective selling strategies we identified with the help of our readers:
Stress authenticity. It seems like everyone’s trying to sell you something these days, so more and more consumers, especially millennials, prize authenticity. And pizzerias have authenticity in spades. Polished branding is always a good thing, but make sure your branding message reflects who you really are and why you do what you do. Stress your family’s and your pizzeria’s roots in the area and how you give back to your community. If you truly love making pizza and serving your community, make sure that love shines through in your videos—and viewers will respond.
Lasting impression: You’re not just selling a product. You’re sharing the food you love with your entire community.
Emphasize quality and artisanship. The major chains have the advantage of omnipresent branding and market share, but many believe independents still make better pizza. Do you prepare your dough fresh in-house every day and work with local growers to find better ingredients? Do you use decades-old family recipes handed down from your great-grandmother? Do you constantly work on new recipes and create signature pizzas that the big chains can’t offer? Does your pizzeria frequently win local “best of” awards and earn rave reviews on social media? If so, make all of these things part of your video story.
Lasting impression: You’re more than just a business owner—you’re a true artisan and pizzaiolo (or pizzaiola, as the case may be).
Go for the glamour. Nothing says “delicious” like that classic cheese-pull shot we described above. It can take some work to capture glamorous, mouthwatering images of food, but they will sell your pizza better than any talking head or blaring caption running across the screen. Don’t just point and shoot—think carefully about lighting, angles and color. Imagine the visual impact of a simple 30-second video, boosted to Facebook users in your market, depicting your most delicious pies fresh and steaming-hot from the oven!
Lasting impression: Your pizzas and other menu items are a feast for the senses that must be experienced to be believed.
Feature your customers (and your employees). Enlist your regulars and longtime employees and give them starring roles in your videos. Let your customers speak directly to the viewer and explain in their own words why they love eating your pies. And let your employees talk about why they love making and/or serving the pizzas those customers love to eat.
Lasting impression: In addition to serving the best pizza in town, you provide a safe haven for your customers.
Capture the overall experience. Do you offer a family-friendly atmosphere where Mom and Dad can bring the kids and everyone will have a good time? Prove it with bright visuals of happy children chomping down on pies, kids’ birthday parties and smiling servers interacting with families at the table. Do you cater to a hipper crowd that’s looking for more adult fun? Make sure to get visuals of bartenders pouring locally brewed craft beers and attractive people enjoying cocktails with their pies. (Make sure the lighting of these shots reflects the ambience of your restaurant.) Are you all about delivery and carryout for pizza lovers on a budget? Emphasize your bundle deals and establish value with plenty of mouthwatering food shots.
Lasting impression: Your potential customers will know exactly what kind of experience to expect at your pizzeria.
Additional styles from our 2016 entries
Profiles in Pizza: One of the most popular and effective ways to endear your pizzeria to customers is to let them know more about the people behind the logo. Nick’s Pizza and Pub was our best example of this strategy.
The Demonstration: This is a tried and true way for your customer to visualize the experience that you offer. This simple video of a pizza being made at the Corner Slice captures the imagination and rouses the appetite of customers.
It’s All About the Kids: If you can get the kids, the parents will follow. And that’s what Johns Incredible Pizza had in mind when they created this high-energy video about a mascot contest and a break-dancing bear.
Get ‘Em Laughing: Many of our readers attempted humor through a funny story or ridiculous spoof. The result was, at the very least, engaging, giving customers a chance to peek behind the scenes and bond with a pizza crew not afraid to show their silly side.
Pizzeria Memorial: Bippy’s Pizza provided a video which was unique among our contestants. The video can only be described as a memorial to a pizzeria from the past. It was a tribute to the neighborhood and the customers that supported Bippy’s for over a generation, and it will reside on PizzaTV.com as a special category. If you’d like to memorialize a pizzeria in this way, please submit your video and we’ll add it to PizzaTV.com.
Enter PMQ’s Second My Pizza Video Contest — you could win $1,000!
Want to see how other pizzeria owners are harnessing the power of video content marketing? Visit pizzatv.com/mypizzavideocontest1 to view reader submissions from our first My Pizza Video Contest and get your creative juices flowing. Remember, there are no rules to creative expression. You’re always free to color outside the lines, as it were, to experiment and craft your own message. The key is to start taking advantage of this powerful and accessible tool to build a stronger business. “Get your creative team together and ask yourselves, what makes your place special?” Green says. “What’s your secret? When you think about it, maybe whatever your secret is shouldn’t be a secret anymore. Maybe you should shout it from the hilltops through video.”
Ready for your close-up? Enter PMQ’s My Pizza Video Contest 2 and start using the power of video to promote your pizzeria and boost your sales right away. You might even win the $1,000 prize for Best Pizza Video. PMQ’s panel of judges will make their selection based on one key criterion: Which video is most likely to help the pizzeria owner sell more pizza?
Visit PizzaTV.com/mypizzavideocontest2 to complete your entry form and find instructions on how to submit your video. Deadline for entry is May 31, 2017. Our contest winner will be announced in the August issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine.