Toppers’ social media efforts yielding results

Toppers Pizza’s recent promotion did exactly what it set out to do – pique the interest of the company’s faithful younger demographic.

The Spank Your Pizza Facebook Contest, launched in August, involved a comprehensive social media strategy that spiked Toppers’ fan base by 62 percent and translated into a 3 percent sales increase.

The contest was the brainchild of Scott Iverson, director of marketing, with help from his team, including Bridget Keeler, Toppers’ marketing manager.

As part of the Spank Your Pizza event, customers were invited to create original pizza recipes using Toppers’ list of ingredients. The winning pizza was voted on by Toppers’ Facebook fans and submitted by Minneapolis’ Jon Ransom.

His pizza, the “Jon “Scooby” Ransom’s Snack, will hit menus at all 28 units beginning January 24 and will run through the spring marketing plan, which is around May 1.

The pizza features thick-cut spicy pepperoni, hand-pinched Italian sausage, ground beef, crispy bacon, black olives and jalapenos topped with pepper jack and mozzarella cheeses on the new Tall Boy pizza crust.

"After all of the submissions were entered, we narrowed it down bracket-style and the fans voted on the winner and our research and development team created it,” said Keeler. “Pizza provides a great canvas for this type of experimenting and this contest really exceeded our expectations.”

In addition to having his invention featured on the menu for four-plus months, Ransom also won free Toppers pizza for a year and a $500 gift card.

The contest not only increased the company’s Facebook fan base by more than 62 percent, it also generated more than 18,500 total fan votes.

“We’ve never been afraid to do something different, unlike many of our larger competitors,” Iverson said. “We want our fanatics to be more than just customers. We want them to be involved in the very core of our business – deciding what to put in their mouths.”

Social media leveraging

The promotion was fitting for Toppers’ core demographic, which entails 18 to 34 year olds who are frequent social media users.

It was the company’s first major contest facilitated through Facebook. Its second, Spank Our Ride, is on the Spring docket and will leverage both Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, other social/mobile marketing initiatives are expected to follow.

Keeler, whose position was recently created for such an effort, said text-based promotions are in the works, as is a migration from print-based campaigns.

“Toppers develops goals and expectations with its demographic in mind. For us, that is a younger, technology-savvy crowd in heavily-populated areas and college towns,” Keeler said. “That said, we will begin working more aggressively toward our three screens – social, text marketing and television – in 2012.”

Toppers anticipates this shift in focus will help its growth plan, which is to reach 100 units by 2013.

“Social media is the new way, and effective way, to interact with customers,” Keeler said. “It is very logical for us to use this opportunity and give our fans what they want and to use it to help us move forward with our plans, as well.”


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