It was 2011 when Pie Five Pizza Co. opened the doors to its first store. Their concept was simple and new, featuring 9-inch personalized pizzas baked in less than 5 minutes, using the High h Conveyor 2020 oven.
Since then, the company has hit the national stage and now has 20 stores open across the country. In expanding its footprint, Pie Five has relied heavily on local marketing efforts to introduce the brand. Its local marketing strategies depend on demographics, social media and trade areas, as well as a strong relationship with franchisees and brand ambassadors.
"Local marketing is very much a collaborative effort involving franchisees," Marketing Director Christina Coy said. "Our goal is to educate consumers on who we are and what we do, and encourage a trial of what Pie Five has to offer. We're known for our amazing customer experience, and we want our ambassadors to bring that experience into the community."
The brand's demographic targets are typically more male and between ages 25 and 45, and families. Families tend to enjoy Pie Five because kids can have their own toppings on a kid-sized pizza, Coy said, and adults can add selections that kids typically don't want, such as onions, peppers and olives.
Social media is a major venue for local outreach, and it helps spread the word about Pie Five. Ads for free pizza for a year might be found on Facebook, which has a local page for every location.
"Customers will be able to check-in and all their friends will see it and the more they check-in, the more searchable we are on Facebook," Coy said
Local marketing also depends on trade areas. In more commercial districts, radio DJs have set up tables with Pie Five prizes; in residential areas, the restaurant tends to use mailers. But when it comes to marketing collateral, size matters.
"Things like handouts were being thrown away, and we wanted to know what makes people want to do that, so we asked them. We learned that the fliers were too big," Coy said. "All our handouts are now business card size. It helps us save on printing, and it stays with the consumer longer. There's a higher redemption rate now for anything in business card size. It stays in pockets and purses."
According to Coy, Pie Five employees might be seen at school and community events, or at fundraising efforts handing out business cards so that people remember them. If the customer is given a free Pie card, that's something they are likely to keep and bring into the store.
"The biggest tip," Coy stated, "is making sure to think about trial. That's a priority because people have to see it for themselves. Get people in the door. Once people get to try what we have to offer, word-of-mouth is a sustaining market in itself. It's a lot of what keeps marketing going. The key to building a successful, sustainable local marketing program is the experience itself. After they visit, they tend to keep coming back."
Numbers are important too. Coy looks at sales and coupons and tracks everything to find out what works. When it comes to competition with established, homegrown restaurants, Pie Five's strategy is simply to show people how they're different.
"Our goal is to make people think about us when they think about pizza. We're fast casual, so we can get it to you when you want at a great price with the highest quality."
Television and radio ads across markets are in Pie Five's future, "but for now, the focus will very much be at the grassroots level." Coy said.
Nicole’s work has appeared in business, education, technical, and travel publications. She is currently the editor of QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com.