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I recently read an article called, "50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence On." The title alone was enough to make me choke, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Digg, YELP, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc., etc., etc. What an enormous waste of time. Except for one thing, it's where your customers and potential customers hang out, make recommendations and look for ideas where to eat and have fun.
I will make an assumption that most readers of this blog are over 35. It is difficult for people in our age group to consider that younger people spend so much time on these social media sites and are so influenced by the buzz. We know it is true and yet secretly yearn for the day that this silliness ends and people just open the mail to get our coupon. Since social sites are here to stay, how will we find new customers and drive repeat business? Radio, cable TV and direct mail are so simple; this social media marketing is so squishy.
Managing social media marketing takes an enormous amount of time but has the advantage that it is easy to measure. The advertising giant, David Ogilvy famously said, "I know half my advertising dollars are wasted, I just don't know which half."
No more. Internet marketing is supremely measurable. In order to build a sustainable pizza business today you must embrace social media marketing and drop any fear of the unknown.
I actually think it is a simple mindset shift, stop thinking social media marketing and start thinking, networking. If you went to a party with friends and someone asked what you do, it is easy to go into your pitch; "I run ABC Pizza, the only pizzeria in town that serves fresh xxxx." You know what makes you different, so tell that story using new tools. Here's how to NETWORK:
N – Never stop Facebooking, Tweeting and Yelping. Keep your brand out in front of customers and the influencers who will tell others. Use their networks to increase customer count.
E – Events. Promote events, not just discounts. Get creative, have a Tuesday night wine tasting, a Wednesday night local fundraiser and let the charity or organization network the event on its blog or Twitter.
T – Time commitment. Make a pledge to dedicate yourself, a staff member or a third-party to create and manage your social media sites. You do not need 50 sites; start with a few to gain experience and results. Two hours a week is better than zero hours per week.
W – Word of Mouth. My company works with a great email campaign program called eWordofMouth that automates the email process and encourages friends to tell friends in order to earn free food and discounts.This model creates new customers as friends tell friends.
O – Online Ordering. If you are not using online ordering via your website, smartphones and iPads, prepare for your sales to fall. Consumers seek easy, convenient ways to order pizza for pickup and delivery. No phones, no hassles. Online ordering increases average ticket and reduces labor, fraud and errors.
R – Real Time Ordering. After looking at many online companies, the team at RTO impressed me by having great technology and the BEST services in the business.
K – Keep Learning. Social media networking is not hard, it is just different. Keep asking questions, measuring results and learning what works for YOUR customers.
The genie is out of the bottle. Wishing that all of this social media stuff would go away will not increase your sales and customer count. Jump in and get comfortable with networking. It is just an opportunity to tell your unique story to current customers and fans so they can help you find new customers.
Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of The Food Connector. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.
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