Online NFL tournaments can help pizzerias draw gameday crowds

Aug. 23, 2009
From September to January, the kickoff of every NFL, college and high school football game represents another opportunity for a pizza order. Whether for feeding the family during the game, catering a party or even feeding the players, pizza and football is a winning combination.
Adding an online NFL tournament to your marketing plan this fall may help maximize this sales opportunity. Here are some tips for developing an effective marketing campaign centered on an online tournament:
Set up an online group
A number of Web sites offer the ability to participate in a free online NFL tournament. In most cases, participants select the winners of NFL football games each week and are awarded points for each correct selection. Most groups offer message boards as well as the ability to e-mail participants.   Create and utilize boxtoppers to promote the tournament
Use boxtoppers to encourage customers to participate in your online tournament as well as visit your Web site, sign up for your e-mail list, follow you on Twitter and become a Facebook fan. And if possible, coordinate any graphics on the boxtopper with the graphics from any signs or banners. 
Update your Web site
Keep your Web site current with the details regarding entering your online NFL tournament, including a link to the Web site, your group name and password. You could even list the weekly winners or the season-to-date standings. Prominently display your game day specials, again coordinating any graphics with your posters and boxtoppers.  And of course, your Web site encourages everyone to sign up for e-mails, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates.
Send weekly e-mails
Weekly e-mails to your customer base can offer a friendly reminder of your game day specials and details about your online tournament, subtly driving your message home again. If you use a subscription service like Constant Contact or, set up a template with your poster image and links to your Web site and online tournament.  Also, use a wildcard feature if available to automatically begin the email with the customer's name. Remember, match the graphics to your other materials, and link to your e-mail list, Twitter and Facebook page. 
Marketing experts suggest you base your e-mail frequency around when customers would naturally expect to hear from you. In this situation, weekly e-mail reminders for weekly games is perfect.
Send out daily Twitter/Facebook updates
Social media is an Internet trend you should not ignore. Your customers get their information from a variety of media every day, including social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. It costs you nothing to contact your customers through these media, and because your customers have to voluntarily follow you, they are literally asking you for your updates. On your Facebook page, upload your poster image to use for each football update.
Remember, these are NOT hard-selling messages. Social media is an opportunity for you to build your brand by communicating with the customer on a more personal level. That's the "social" part of social media. So if you have time to talk about your dog, your hobby or some Web site you like, do that too!  But at least do these 5-minute daily updates to stay at the top of your customers mind. 
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Congratulate your winning team, mention your Monday-If-We-Win Special -- or your pizza special for the win. Details at
Congratulate this week's online tournament winner. Encourage those that have not signed up for the online tournament to get on board this week. Details at
Wednesday: Remind everyone to start looking at matchups for the weekend's games. (Thursday games start in November, so picks must be made by Thursday morning)
Root for the local college team for Saturday's game, or the local high school game for Friday night, and mention you have game day specials at
Mention the NFL game you can't wait for this weekend, remind everyone to get their tournament picks in and to check out the game day specials at
Mention the time and TV channel for kickoff of your local NFL team.  Call 555-5555 for pickup or delivery.
A marketing plan focused on the classic combination of football and pizza can be very successful when all the aspects are tied together. Repetition of your message over multiple mediums gives you an excellent opportunity for success. And combining some low-cost printed material with no-cost Internet marketing makes this a budget-friendly option. Put it all together, and you're sure to score a sales touchdown!
About the author
Scott Chervitz has been in the pizza business for 11 years, including most recently partner and manager of Napoli Pizza in St. Peters, Mo.  Napoli Pizza was voted No. 3 Best Pizza in St. Louis 2007 and 2008, and the Best Dessert Pizza in St. Louis 2009. Chervitz is launching Integrated Pizza Marketing to help independent pizzerias sort through the maze of marketing options and develop affordable marketing campaigns.

Topics: Marketing , Operations Management

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