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If you listen very carefully you can hear a buzz of anticipation from pizza operators everywhere as we quickly approach the Super Supreme Pizza day of the year, wait for it.....Super Bowl!

Bruce Horovitz, of USA Today was quoted as saying, "More pizza will be sold on Super Bowl, February 5th, than any other day of the year. Pizza has become to Super Bowl Sunday what eggs are to Easter. Or candy canes to Christmas." Of course you probably already knew this because in the pizza industry we all have that pepperoni dream of making the "Big Score," but we're not dreaming about touchdowns, we're dreaming about the Catering Sales!

If you somehow missed the memo you may be wondering what's so big about Super Bowl. Well since the first Super Bowl game played on Jan. 15, 1967 between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers (the Packers won 35 to 10 by the way), it has become the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption after Thanksgiving, according to Wikipedia. In fact, the day on which the Super Bowl is played is now considered a de facto national holiday in America called "Super Bowl Sunday."

The food of choice that day – Pizza. It's the one food that seems to best meet the three game-day criteria: It's cheap. It's easy. It's social. "There are situations socially tied to food categories," said Jennifer Aaker, a consumer psychologist and marketing professor at Stanford University. "Just as you might go on an airplane and order a tomato juice, you watch the Super Bowl and eat pizza."

Since Super Bowl is America's No. 1 party day and since you want to be the host of that party, you need to create a marketing plan based on your customers' game day needs and you need to start now. Your competition is already running ads and cooking up specials, so let's talk game plans.

Cheap and easy is the primary goal, making social your + 1, so let's start with the cheap part. In this economy it's getting harder and harder to discount products and still make a profit, so instead of cutting prices, add value. Bundle products together and make package deals, creating perceived value. Start by checking your menu and with food costs in mind combine a few items to create package deals.

One of my favorites this year has been the 2012 Deal – a 20-inch thin crust party pizza with up to 4 toppings and 12 wings for $20.12. Your food cost should be about $10.00 dependant on what toppings are chosen making this a great buy for your customers and netting an approximate 50 percent profit for you. Add a safety by making the packages unlimited to tempt your customers into buying more than one. Add the words Limited Time Offer and you will be creating a sense of urgency and will get redemption faster.

The "Easy" part is just that, easy. Who wants to cook when they can cater? Catering and/or bundled packages are a party in a box. Party organizers are way too busy buying beer, putting up decorations and checking the line to think about cooking. For them it's much easier to pick up the phone and order 2 or 3 Super Bowl 2012 Packs, Pizza and Wing Blitz's, First Down and Pizza to Go's, Pass Rush Pasta Specials, or, well, you get the idea. Try to include lots of appetizers, wings and most of all pizza.

Your +1 is of course the fun factor; specials should be fun and part of the theme with corny names that will grab your customers' attention and start conversations among the guests. Super Bowl Sunday is all about the recap and clever specials at good prices, and should not only get you in the highlights, but they can help to make you the MVP. HUT!

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Brian Belefant
    71427627
    You're absolutely right about the opportunity created by the Super Bowl. But coming up with a relevant Super Bowl offer is only one part –– and arguably the last part –– of the marketing mix.

    The first step is to create a powerful brand. One that has value in and of itself. Advertising is second only to a customer's personal experience with the pizzeria itself in accomplishing that. Pizza Hut and Domino's know this. That's why they advertise their brand messages all year, and bring in their tactical messaging for events like Super Bowl Sunday.

    The second step is to support that brand through ongoing efforts. This is where social media can shine, but unfortunately most social media efforts fail because there's no brand message that they support.

    The third step is to come up with the tactical offer. That's where the $20.12 deal comes in.

    And the fourth step is to get the word out about the tactical offer. Advertising works. As do direct mail, door hangers, fliers, coupons on boxes, and social media.

    It's important to keep in mind that when a pizzeria has a strong brand that's being supported, consumers will see a 20-inch pizza with four toppings and 12 wings for $20.12 as a great deal. When a pizzeria has no brand, and the only message a consumer gets is the occasional tactical price offer, the offer becomes what their pizza is "worth". And the only way to get repeat business is by continuing to offer discounts.

    It's too late to create a powerful brand in time for this year's Super Bowl. But the Super Bowl presents the same, massive opportunity for pizzerias every single year.

    We all know it's coming. A smart pizzeria owner will lay the ground work now to capitalize on it next year –– and all the other opportunities that present themselves throughout the year.
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Marla Topliff
Marla Topliff, president of Rosati’s Pizza, has helped grow the Chicago franchise from 60 stores in 1999 to the 170 national brand that it is today. She supervises all aspects of marketing, customer service, store communications and vendor relationships.
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