19 – Smart Pizza Marketing with Pizza Marketing Expert Bruce Irving

Smart Pizza Marketing

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Bruce Irving, the Founder of Smart Pizza Marketing is one of the foremost experts on pizza marketing, working with many Pizza Restaurants to help them find more customers and turn them into repeat customers.

In this podcast we discuss how Restaurants are using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a range of other tools to build their businesses.

We also look at what is required to build your restaurant from one location to multiple locations and the mindset that Bruce sees in his successful Pizza Restaurant customers.

Bruce is a big believer in Snapchat, so have a listen and see how he is using it and how he sees restaurants using it as well to build a loyal following on this rapidly developing social medium.  Some people are picking 2017 to be the year that Snapchat goes mainstream, which means that if you are looking for something to clearly set your marketing apart from the crowd, now is the time you want to be building up your Snapchat skills and followers.

We talk email marketing and how important it is for restaurants.  Bruce and I share a lot of common thoughts on the power of email marketing, being on medium that Restaurants can truly control.

We look at how Pizza Restaurants can and should compete against third party online ordering companies like Grub Hub and Menulog.

Lastly we talk about Masterminds – getting groups of Restaurant owners together to discuss the issues that everyone has in common to make it easier to run your Restaurant.

Check out Bruce’s website for more great Restaurant Marketing ideas and details of his Masterminds.


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Podcast transcript on episode 19 – Smart Pizza Marketing with Pizza Marketing Expert Bruce Irving

James Eling: Hey, it’s James from Marketing4Restaurants and welcome to episode 19 of Secret Sauce, the restaurant marketing podcast. Pizza marketing with Bruce Irving.

James: Hey everyone, welcome back. I hope you got a lot out of the marketing KPIs podcast. Lots of ideas in there. We’ve received some really interesting feedback about some of the things that people had been doing, and some of the things that they haven’t been doing in their marketing and how actually starting to look at some of the metrics that we talked about, how it’s making a difference in their marketing. So, that’s really exciting. Today’s podcast I’m super excited about, we’re talking to Bruce Irving from Smart Pizza Marketing, and he has got a lot of experience in running pizzerias. A lot of experience in pizza marketing and he is doing some really interesting work.

So, he’s [Bruce Irving] got a podcast, as well, and we’ll include links to that on the show notes. So, please go along, particularly, if you run a pizza restaurant. But in general, some of the topics I’ve listened to, they’re just really good and he is very interested in some of the emerging social media channels, particularly Snapchat. So, doing quite a lot of work on Snapchat, he runs regular blabs, as well. So, really at the cutting edge of online marketing. Very interesting to talk to.

The other thing that he does that I think is really, really interesting is he runs masterminds for restaurant owners. And so, what he does is he gets a group of pizza owners together and they all sit down on a conference pool and discuss how their restaurants are going. And you know, I think that one of the big problems with the restaurant industry is that a lot of people feel that they’re completely alone. This is one way of getting around that because the funny thing is that all of the problems that you have in your restaurant probably everyone else has them, as well. You just feel like it’s just you, you feel like you’re doing the worst job in the world and you really struggle with it. It can be really empowering to talk to other people, to find out that they all have the same problems as you and some of them have sold those problems, so you can actually benefit from someone else’s experience.

People who have made similar mistakes to what you’re about to make. It’s a really interesting concept, I think that’s something that we should be doing a lot more of, getting more and more restaurant owners to talk together about the common problems so that everyone can sort of learn from everyone else’s experience. So, we’re going to, I’m going to talk to Bruce about that because I think it’s something that is a really, really powerful idea. So, let’s get into it, this is Bruce Irving from Smart Pizza Marketing. So, Bruce, welcome to the podcast.

Bruce Irving: Thank you so much for having me, James.

James: So, I’ve been looking at all of the great work that you do with Smart Pizza Marketing, do you want to just give us a little bit about your background.

Bruce: Yeah, sure man. I’ve been in the pizza business for 20 years now and I was fascinated by the guys who built these big businesses in the pizza industry. Being a small business owner in the pizza industry, it’s really hard, you know. You don’t have a lot of information and a lot of the time you go into the business of the pizza industry or restaurant in general, that not being really the main plan, you know. I know some chefs go to school to open a restaurant and that’s their plan, but a lot of the time these guys grow up in the pizza industry or the restaurant industry, or they kind of did it through college and then they realized that they like and they try to do that.

And there was really no information out there when it comes to audio or, you know, other than the magazines, the trade magazines, of how these guys built these big businesses and I was fascinated by that and I always wanted to talk to those guys. So, you know I created the podcast and the website to kind of be able to talk to those guys, and then it transitioned into this whole, you know, people asking me questions about marketing and what I’ve learned from those guys. So, that’s kind of where the podcast and the website has gone from there.

James: Exactly, and that was the first question I had written down, because I think that that’s probably, I’m really fascinated be the people who are always talking to restaurant owners because you get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, what do you see the three biggest mistakes that people are making in their marketing now?

Bruce: The three biggest mistakes I see is number one, they work in their business way too much, you know. Many of these business owners get, I feel like there’s three categories: you’re just starting out, you’re trying to figure it out, and then you’ve figured it out. You know, the guys who have figured it out are the guys who do own three, four, five, places, they have big restaurant or pizza businesses, and they’ve figured out the training, they figured out how to hire, they figured out what they do good and what they don’t do good. And they hire what they don’t do good and they go all in what they do do good. The independents who make the biggest mistake is they get so bogged down in the day to day operations that they don’t take an outside look at their business and say, “Hey, you know, what am I good at? What am I not good at?” And try to go all in on your strengths and try to delegate out your weaknesses, they try to just be all things to all people and I think that’s a huge mistake. It’s the number one mistake that I see them make.

Number two would be they don’t use online marketing or social media marketing the way that it should be used. They try to promote their stuff too much, they try to use it in selling too much, they don’t use it as a social tool. And if they are using it, they’re not using it to their best benefit to built their brand and their voice and to let their customers know who they are and to get them to know, like, and trust them. You know, they’ve, or they try to use it and they say, “I use Instagram for a couple of weeks, I posted this stuff up and it doesn’t work for me.” You know, or, “I’ve used Facebook and it doesn’t work for me.” And what they’re really saying is that they don’t know how to use it, not that it doesn’t work for them because everything works for everybody, you just have to really figure out how to use it. And they don’t give the time, they don’t give it the time that it needs to work. Or, the time invested in it to learn how to do it, I think that’s another huge mistake that they make.

Number three, I think that they dwell a lot, you know, I think a lot of restaurant owners dwell on what’s not working, you know, “I can’t find good help. I can’t find the time to do this. I can’t find the time to do that.” Rather than just being like, “It is what it is.” When you sign up to own a restaurant or a pizzeria, you know, that’s part of the job. You take that responsibility on, that’s why when things go good you have a bigger pay check than your employees, and when things go bad all that responsibility falls on yourself and you have to realize that right off the bat. You know, there’s going to be a heavy burden on your shoulders when you own a restaurant, and you just have to deal with it. Suck it up, learn what you need to do, hire out what you need to do then just be okay with that, you know. I think that they make a huge mistake of dwelling too much and not being on the offensive, they’re too much on the defensive.

James: I think that’s a really good point. I know you see a lot of people and I think you develop this rut, you know, someone who’s been running the restaurant for two or three years, that’s the way that you run a restaurant because they don’t know any better, they’ve never seen anything else that’s different and it really makes it very hard for them to get out of that rut and to do something a little bit different, which could make a massive difference in their business.

Bruce: Yeah, I mean there’s so many things out there, so many resources nowadays that there weren’t 15 years ago, you know. The internet alone, there’s so many websites or podcasts like mine and yours or websites like mine and yours that they can go read about information, or reach out to somebody and say, “Hey, I have a question about this. You know, this is what I’m trying to, this is the path I think I should take. What do you think about it?” I mean, you could really do that. You know, if they send you an email or me an email or anybody in the business that is doing something that you want to do, I’m sure if you send them an email you might not get a response right away, but send them two or the third email they’ll be like, “I’m just going to respond to this guy so he stops emailing me.” But 90 percent of the time I do that, the other person on the end of that email is so nice, they’ll answer whatever question you have.

James: Exactly, exactly. And as we were talking about it, I think the technology is making such a big difference now. The people who are reaching out and using the technology and using it really well, they’re getting significantly better results than they would have in their marketing and in just running the business in general 5 or 10 years.

Bruce: Yeah, I mean, with Instagram or Twitter, you can reach out to somebody that before you would have never been able to contact. And if you did, it was through mail or a phone call, and you just wouldn’t have been able to get a hold of them. But nowadays, with technology and social media, it’s so much easier to find someone first of all, and then to shoot them an email or a text or a message on Twitter or Instagram and just say, “Hey, this is what’s going on, I have a question for you.” It’s so much easier to do that now.

James: Exactly. Quick question on Twitter. Do you find that it is better for reaching out to people individually rather than mass marketing?

Bruce: I think Twitter’s a great listening tool, you know. Going to find who your target audience is and just kind of listening to what they have to say, or it’s great for hopping in on a conversation that’s kind of already going on. If you’re a local restaurant and you’re in a local town and you can hop in on a conversation and not make it about yourself but just add to your conversations, then that’s how you get noticed – I think Twitter’s a great tool for that.

James: Yes, yup. I’d agree. It’s interesting, I find a few people sort of sprucing about, you know, how you can get so many followers and all and build a mass following with Twitter. But I find that, particularly for restaurant owners, that’s a massive struggle and I haven’t seen anyone really do a good job of it.

Bruce: Yeah, I think trying to gain your follower count is just a big mistake that a lot of people make. I mean, they really think of, listen, if you’re an influencer in a marketplace and you have five followers, that might be an issue. But if you’re a local place, I don’t think your follower account really matters. Because you could have 10,000 followers but if 5 people out of those 10,000, you know respond to a tweet you put out or an Instagram post and, you know, communicate with you back and forth then those other 9,995 followers don’t matter. I would rather have 100 followers that, you know, 70 to 80 percent are engaged, than 10,000 and 5 people are engaged. The follower account just doesn’t matter for a local business.

James: Yes, yup. So, what would your advice be for a restaurant owner or someone who has just realized that they need to do something about their marketing?

Bruce: I think that they should look at what their message that they’re trying to get across is, and then try to find the platform that best suits them that way. Are you talking about social media or marketing in general?

James: Marketing, in general.

Bruce: I think that you need to really define what your goals are, you know. Who are you as a restaurant or a pizzeria, and what message are you trying to get across. It’s not like it was before back in the day when you could just send out your menu and flyers or coupons, you know. That’s kind of white noise nowadays. You really need to be, try to define what your message is, and then post that on, I think the internet is the biggest thing that you should be doing in for marketing in 2016. I really do. I don’t think that you should stop doing your other marketing, but when it comes to how you market your restaurant you should really be marketing yourself, your brand, and your message. And you do that through the different social channels like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and now Snapchat. I really think Snapchat’s going to be a huge platform for restaurants. But you just got get your message across and use those channels to communicate with the people on those channels in the way that they want to be communicated to.

James: Yup, definitely. And I think you touch on a really important point, you need to work out what your point of difference is. What is it that makes you unique, because too many people just say, “We’re a pizza restaurant. We’re a local pizza restaurant,” and that’s the end of the story. There’s a lot of local pizza restaurants out there, isn’t there?

Bruce: I mean, there’s tons of them and you use, and a lot of them aren’t using the social media to get that message across. Like, you could say, “I have the best pizza in your town,” but how do you know that? Like, how does your customer know that? Just because you say that? You know, you have to really prove it to them, you know. You prove it to them by showing them, show them behind the scenes of your restaurant, show them yourself, show them your personality, and show them your product, and showcase that on social media so that they do see what makes you different. Not just by you saying it or having a plaque on a wall or writing on your menu, “Voted best pizza in such and such area,” because who really knows nowadays? Anybody can say that. How do you back that up?

James: Yeah, exactly. So, what are the best results that you’ve seen with an online marketing campaign that the restaurants run?

Bruce: I think that it really, you should choose the channel that you want to use the most. I’ve seen really successful campaigns on Instagram, some really successful Facebook ads, and I think that email is, you know, a tremendous marketing channel that people are kind of forgetting about. Like, every customer that I have, or the people in the mastermind group, I always ask them, “Are you guys using email?” They’re like, “Well, I have emails but I don’t send them out as much as I should.” And I think that they get stuck in, you know, what they should be sending rather than just communicating. And I think email is a tremendous marketing tool that people are just not using and they’re not utilizing that. But when it comes to one of the best, I mean, there’s not too many that I can really pinpoint. I think that there’s a lot of people in Instagram that are really doing a great job by just showcasing their products and then when customers are commenting or liking, they’re engaging with that, and then that creates a flow of engagement that helps them grow their business. Because then those customers talk to their friends and then their friends kind of like their page, and it’s like a flow of followers that come with the engagement of you engaging with your customers.

James: Definitely. Definitely. So, Snapchat. How do you see Snapchat being used by restaurants?

Bruce: I think you should tell your story, it’s almost like a behind the scenes of what’s going on in your restaurant. So, Snapchat is a platform that it lays out your story in a 24-hour timeline. You take a photo or a video of something and that’s going to stay on your story, it’s called a story on Snapchat. That’s going to stay on your story for 24 hours. So, 24 hours from now it’s going to be gone. So, you can use it to kind of give the behind the scenes of what’s going on in your restaurant. Maybe use it to give timely specials on a certain day, and your followers have to be watching that at a certain specific time that you’re going to give out that special. And then it’s gone 24 hours later. It’s almost like an in the moment kind of thing and the thing I see with Snapchat is that it doesn’t really count your followers like the other platforms. Like, people are used to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, seeing how many likes you have or how many followers you have on Twitter or Instagram. And Snapchat’s not like that, there’s no like validity of how many followers you have, you don’t really know. You have to really physically go in there and count them individually, which can be time consuming.

But what it does tell you is who looked at your photo or video, and how many people total looked at that. So, if you have 100 followers, let’s just give an example, you know that, you know, 50 of my people that like me or friend me on Snapchat saw that and not only do you see how many but you see who those people are and you can send them direct messages, say, “Hey, thanks. I saw that you checked out that photo, what did you think of it?” And then you can start the conversation that way, it’s almost like text messaging in a way.

James: Okay, cool.

Bruce: So, I think that’s way different than Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook in the fact that you can really communicate with the people who are interacting with whatever you’re posting on your Snapchat channel.

James: I think Instagram tends to be a little bit less focused in that respect. Much more broad, you know, able to hit a much larger market, particularly if you’re getting the right hashtags. But I find that it tends to be a little bit random as to who’s following you.

Bruce: Yeah, I mean, it does totally. Well, they just announced, I mean, we’re recording this in March of 2016 and Instagram just announced that they’re changing the way that their algorithm, your feed will show up in your newsfeed for Instagram.

James: Which is the usual Facebook play, isn’t it?

Bruce: Yeah, totally.

James: Like, “Everyone get comfortable and then we change the rules.”

Bruce: Like, Facebook owns Instagram and we’re on probably step number 2 of step 10 being you’re going to have to pay for people to see whatever you post on Instagram.

James: Absolutely.

Bruce: Now, right now step two is, I mean, here’s the good thing and we’re actually doing a live show tonight about this and I’ve been seeing a lot of people say, “Hey, turn on notifications from me on Instagram so that way when I do post something, you’ll get notified.” If someone turns on their notifications from 50 different people, they’re going to get 50 different notifications. It’s just going to be white noise anyway.

But what you can do is just post really good stuff and have your customers like and comment and then interact with them, and then Instagram will say, “Hey, you know what, every time this company posts a photo these 10 people like and comment on it, so we’re going to raise that in their newsfeed and they’re going to get priority from everything else in their feed.” So, that’s how you just, just post quality stuff and your customers will interact and like it and then that’s how you show up higher in the newsfeed. You don’t need to turn on notifications or any of that crap.

James: I agree wholeheartedly, there’s too many people who are just publishing all sorts of random, not well thought out and awfully produced, you know, just really bad photos on Instagram.

Bruce: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people posting just because they feel they have to post. They’re trying to get a post out, not necessarily thinking about why they’re posting that particular post and what the purpose of that post is. I think if people take a step back, take an extra couple seconds to say, “Why am I posting this photo? And what is the purpose of it?” And if they do that less times than just posting for posting’s sake, they’ll actually get more out of it.

James: Yes. In the United States, how do you see the intermediaries like Grub Hub playing out? Do you see them as being a threat to pizza restaurants?

Bruce: Not if the pizza restaurants can understand that those third-party sites like Grub Hub or any of them ones that hold their email address, it’s almost like Facebook like they want the play to pay. Like, if you come up higher in the algorithm the more you pay for those sites, and then those sites hold the email address of the customer they’ll give you the order and the phone number and you’re thinking you got a great deal. But I think if pizzeria owners realize that they could build that same system on their own through email and through a correct website and communication, that they won’t need those third-party sites. I think those third-party sites are great for restaurants just starting out, needs to get exposure, needs to get into the mind frame of the people who were in the area, but an established restaurant shouldn’t need those. They should be gathering emails on their own, they should be communicating with their customers through offline and online marketing. And those restaurants, I think, won’t need to use those third-party sites.

James: Yeah, it’s very interesting. Because I see that the email address is, in some respects, the most valuable part of the transaction that’s being carried out, because it gives you the opportunity to go back to the customer for free, you know, just 10 minutes to send an email out to all of your previous customers. And so many restaurant owners just don’t see that as being valuable and they don’t see the bit that they’re missing out on.

Bruce: I think they’re too, they’re just too busy to realize it and they don’t realize that that’s an important part of running a business. It’s not just, you got to have a great product, first of all, obviously, because if you have a not very good product no matter how much marketing you do your product is still going to be not very good. But let’s all go on the assumption that you have a great product. You got to get the word out there, I mean, you can’t just expect to have a great product nowadays and just kind of sit back and wait for them to come to you. Stuff costs too much money, payroll’s too high, and there’s too much noise out there for you to get any attention. It’s all about getting your customer’s attention, and you have to go out there and grab it, it’s not going to come to you.

James: Payroll is a particularly contentious issue in Australia, because for some restaurants out there payroll is 50 percent of revenue.

Bruce: That’s crazy.

James: It is madness, isn’t it?

Bruce: I’d say in the States it’s probably about 30 percent is probably average. If you can get below that, you’re doing really good. But above that’s not unheard of either. And they want it to be, you know, I’d say the minimum wage in the US is about, I’d say $9 an hour depending on what state you are. Some states it’s higher, some states it’s lower. And they want to get that up to $15 an hour, which is going to be completely crazy for the price of any kind of product like a pizza that’s, you know, on the cheaper scale of, you know, dining.

James: It’s definitely going to add significantly to the price of pizza, isn’t it?

Bruce: Totally, it’s going to be a $20, $25 pizza delivered to your house. I don’t know why they think raising the minimum wage is going to increase anybody’s way of living. It’s just going to increase the cost of living for everybody. So, you might make, you know, $15 an hour now, great. But now that stuff you bought for $10 is going to be $20, so it’s going to be really no different.

James: It makes it tough, exactly.

Bruce: It just makes the people be able to get re-elected because they can say they raised the minimum wage.

James: Yeah. So, how do you see pizza owners differentiating themselves in the marketplace?

Bruce: I think, first of all, having a great product and then having a great message. And then really using your staff, you know, the number one question that I get all the time is, “I can’t find great help. I can’t find anybody who wants to work.” And I think restaurant owners make a huge mistake of thinking that, first of all, that their employees should be working as hard as they do. You know, it’s your business, you should be working twice as hard as anybody you hire. And you shouldn’t have expectations of your employees to carry your business. So, I think that’s number one is setting what expectations that you have for your employees. Number two is I think that restaurant owners and business owners try to find square pegs and fit them into round holes.

The best most successful entrepreneurs talk to their employees and find out what they like to do and what they are good at, and they put them in the right position. And they people who can do that I think really grow big businesses, because that’s the number one question that I get asked, and I think that’s the number one question that people have a hard time with.

James: I can’t agree with that enough. And it’s, out here it is often the biggest problem that a restaurant owner’s got by far is that they just can’t find good people and retain them. Finding and retaining staff is just critical. And then you ask them about what they do to try and make that process easier and most of them have got no idea about what they can do.

Bruce: Yeah, there’s no process, there’s no training, there’s no onboarding process. You know, they say to me, “I can’t find good help.” Okay, first of all, where are you looking? You’re not going to find a shark in Lake Michigan. You know, they don’t just exist there, so where are you looking first of all? And then second of all, when you do find someone, what are you doing with them when they do come aboard? Is there a process? Is there a training process so they know what you expect of them when they come aboard? And do they know what your goals are for them and then how they achieve it, you know. There’s got to be a process and a timeline for you to show them, so that they know they’re doing a good job and they know that what you expect them to do they’re actually doing. And gives them something to even exceed.

James: Absolutely.

Bruce: You know, another thing I think is that people should look at their employees A, B, C, D, F. You know, I know that D and F is going to be bad, but if you have F you’ve got to get rid of them right away. As soon as you realize someone’s an F, you got to get rid of them. And then don’t expect Cs to be Bs, and don’t expect Bs to be As, and don’t expect everybody to be an A. You know, you’re the A. Your top-level managers are As. You know, it’s okay, everybody needs Cs and Bs, and sometimes Ds depending on how bad the Ds are. But you got to really rate your employees and realize that not everybody’s going to be an A, and then put them in their place because you all need places in the restaurant and then really look for those key traits that are in your Bs and As, and go out and find those people. And then just be okay with having Cs and Ds, as well.

James: I think that that’s a really, really good point because everyone does have in their mind they’ve got the gold standard of what the perfect employee is going to be. And I always say, you know, “The perfect employee hasn’t been born yet.”

Bruce: Just not everybody, we’re human beings. I mean, all human beings are different. You know, we’re all different. So, if you expect everybody to be exactly the same, you’re just going to get disappointed every single time.

James: Absolutely. And then you fire them and, you know, morale goes down and then you’re hiring again. And you just get onto this treadmill of just poor employees leading to poor customer service which means that, you know, revenue goes down and then you’re increasingly unhappy in the business and no one wants to work for a boss who’s unhappy. And, you know, that’s how the nightmare continues doesn’t it?

Bruce: Yeah, totally. That’s totally the case. You know, it could be a huge snowball downhill and then you’re at the end of that snowball trying to stop it, and you really should just get it before it starts and just say, “Hey, this is what I expect from my employees. You know, my As I expect this, my Bs I expect this, my Cs I expect this.” And if you expect differently from your different people depending on what they can and can’t do I think you’ll have a better day and a better life with your business.

James: Absolutely, yup. Because sadly, we see far too much of that. I’m sure you do, as well. You know, people who just, it is out of control and they don’t know how to get it back in control.

Bruce: Yeah.

James: And they hate going to work.

Bruce: Totally, I think that people get so overwhelmed that with, you know, you have to run your business, you have to make sure the phone rings. “Okay, now I have the social media thrown in there, and I got to market my business, and I got to find employees. And then when I do find employees I have to train them.” It can be so overwhelming, you just got to stop, realize what you have to do, make a list, and then just kind of chip away at it one at a time. And then before you know it, your system will be built. It’s not going to be built all at one time, it’s going to be built one step at a time, just take that first step then you’ll get there.

James: One of the things I like to, the way I like to build those processes is if you’re starting from blank just write something down. 10 points, doesn’t matter what they are and the next time you hire someone and they make a mistake and you think, “You know what, we should have covered that in the onboarding process,” just edit your onboarding process. Put that so that next time you won’t make that mistake and every time someone makes a mistake, if you capture that mistake and change your processes then that mistake is much less likely to happen going forward. Which means that you’re that little bit better off.

Bruce: Yeah, no you’re right. I always tell people if you have to do things more than two or three times, you got to have a process for it. No matter what it is.

James: Absolutely.

Bruce: Even if just a simple checklist, it could be five things. But if you’re doing the same thing over and over again, just write a simple checklist down and file it.

James: Because they are the key, I think, my personal difference, that’s the difference between someone who runs one really good restaurant and someone who runs five really good restaurants is that they’ve got all of those processes down.

Bruce: You’re absolutely right. I mean, just you can’t run five restaurants if you don’t have some kind of process.

James: Yup. So, I was talking to a restaurant owner a while ago and he said he’s got three restaurants, one of them’s really good. The funny thing is it’s always one that he’s in.

Bruce: That’s how the case is I’d say with a lot of people that I talk to that’s the case.

James: So, email marketing, we’ve talked about the importance of it, what are your tips for growing your email list?

Bruce: I think you should have an offer on your website. Some kind of offer. If you’re a pizza shop or a pizzeria or a restaurant, give something away every week for free. Whether it be a pizza, an appetizer, or just something that you can put on your website with an opt in that says, “Hey, we give whatever it is away every week. Sign up right here.” And I guarantee you, if you have some kind of traffic to your website you’ll get 15 to 20 percent opt in on that and then every week that will grow your email list. And then just shoot an email out to your whole list once a week saying who the winner was, you can do a quick video so that they get to know who the owner is and what you’re all about. And that’ll snowball from there. And I just think that giving something away for free on your website, pizza or an appetizer costs such a small amount of money compared to all the other marketing that you’re doing, and I really feel like that’s the best way for a restaurant to grow their email list.

James: That’s a great idea, yup. So, if you had to pick, which is the one channel that you see working in general best for pizzas?

Bruce: You know what, I was looking at this and I was saying to myself, “I have to ask him a follow up question. Now, is this for just social or is it for advertising as well?”

James: Yeah, let’s open it up. Advertising, as well.

Bruce: Just social I’m going to say Snapchat, because I think the interaction with Snapchat for the next 12 to 24 months is going to be huge. But the Facebook ads platform just can’t be beat right now. And if you tell me I can only use one social network for either advertising or social, I’m going to pick Facebook because the targeting that you can use on Facebook for ads and to target your existing customers and then customers that don’t even know you exist is just gigantic on Facebook. That doesn’t exist on any other platform at the moment.

James: I agree wholeheartedly. I often joke that it’s the closest that any of us are going to get to working with the NSA.

Bruce: No, you’re right.

James: The demographics that they’ve got in there, the information that they know about people, amazing.

Bruce: Yeah, you can upload your existing email list to Facebook and exclude those people or include them. You can even do it by people’s phone number. I mean, you don’t get as much data if you upload people’s phone number, but uploading people’s email address to Facebook and then placing ads to them excluding the people already on your email list and having an offer to people who don’t know you’re there is gigantic. You can’t do on any other network right now.

James: Exactly, yup. It’s an extremely powerful network.

Bruce: So, if you took ads out of the way, I would say Snapchat. If you include ads, I would say Facebook.

James: Awesome. Now, you mentioned before that you run masterminds, how do they work and what do the owners get out of them?

Bruce: Okay, so the mastermind group is we meet twice a month, so every other week we get on a call and it’s usually about a 60-minute call. It can go a little bit longer depending on what the engagement is in the group and who has questions and what they’re all about. But we meet once every other week, hop on a call or a live video call and it works like this. There’s usually 6 to 10 people in each group, we hop on a call, the first 5 to 15, 20 minutes is we all go around the group and say, “Okay, what were you working on last meeting. How did that go?” So, we all have a goal at the end of the meeting to say, “Okay, this is what we’re going to work on for the next meeting.”

First 15, 20 minutes we go over that. The middle 20 minutes we go over there’s one person in the hot seat. So, the hot seat is somebody in the group it’s their turn to bring a problem, a question, or a topic that they want us to go over exclusively for 20 minutes. So, that’s the middle 20 minutes, and we talk about that. We’ll all go around the group, give some ideas, give some tactics or tips that we use for that, and that’s the hot seat. And then the last 15, 20 minutes is we all go around the group and say, “Okay, what are we going to take away from this meeting and work on for the next meeting.” And then you’ll have two weeks to work on that. And the owners get, I mean, every meeting that I’ve done so far, I always walk away with an owner getting a new idea or a new way to market their restaurant or hire help or find someway to run their business better. And then they also get accountability, because a lot of these restaurant owners go through their day and they feel kind of lonely, you know.

You wake up in the morning, you’re excited for your day, you’re a restaurant owner. You love cooking and you love your job and then you get to your restaurant or your pizzeria and, you know, something doesn’t show up or somebody doesn’t show up and it kind of ruins your day. You don’t really have anybody to talk to, you’re the sole guy in charge of everything. I mean, you might be able to talk to your wife or your husband but, you know, they don’t really necessarily want you to come home complaining every day. So, you kind of hold it all inside, there’s really nobody that knows what you’re going through other than other people in the restaurant industry.

So, these groups a great way for people who are in the same or similar situations to come together, talk about what’s going on in their business, maybe some guy over there has something that’s working really well for them that you can learn from or you can teach that guy something that’s working really well for you that he has no clue about. And the ideas really start flowing inside these groups, and it’s a really great way to get, hold yourself accountable, and to learn new things that you wouldn’t see because you’re kind of in your own little bubble.

James: I think that it’s an amazing idea. Because it’s one of the big things that I see is the loneliness, you know. It’s lonely at the top, all of the decisions are made by you. Are you making the right decisions? You’ve got no one that you feel you can bounce those ideas off, or the problems that you’ve got and the other things that I find amazing is that all of the problems everyone has. Hiring is a huge problem. Marketing is a huge problem, you know. Getting the profitability right. Menu engineering. They’re the kind of things that people should be talking about, because it makes it so much easier to solve those problems. And it’s really refreshing, I think, when you find out that there’s other people who really struggle with hiring, as well. Or, you know, someone who’s made bigger mistakes than what you have because you think that you’ve made the worst mistakes in the industry.

Bruce: Yeah, you realize there are other people out there who have done exactly what you’ve done, good or bad.

James: Exactly, yes.

Bruce: Some of these groups you’ll find people talking about, you know, and we’ve stopped people from doing things that cost other members, you know, a lot of money and we’ve also given people ideas that they’re like, “You know, I didn’t even think of that idea. And after hearing you do it, and not only did I hear about the idea but I’ve heard of your story of how you executed it and what the results are, I’m going to go do that in my business now.” And that’s something that they got from the mastermind group, and they wouldn’t have gotten it from a forum because, you know, these groups are really personal. They know the other people online. You meet with these people every other week and, after a while, you get to really know them and value their opinion. You’ll open up a little bit and you’ll talk about things that you wouldn’t talk about in a forum online.

James: Because the one thing I think a mastermind brings is trust. That relationship brings trust, which means that you’re more likely to give away your great ideas because you’ve got so much out of it yourself.

Bruce: Yeah, because nobody inside’s selling anything, it’s all just kind of like let’s come together, you know. There’s six or seven people in the group, so there’s six or seven business that we want to have thrive and grow and that’s the whole main focus of those groups.

James: Yup, awesome. Well, thanks for that. We’ve covered a lot of ground, a lot of interesting ground. And just really interesting to hear your perspective on marketing and running a pizza restaurant in general, so thanks a lot.

Bruce: Thanks for having me on, I had fun.

James: Isn’t he just the most knowledgeable guy. Such a super knowledgeable guy particularly about the masterminds. I think that that’s a great idea. So, I’m going to include links to his podcast, definitely listen to his podcast. Lots of great ideas there and, as I said in the intro, it’s not just for pizza marketers. There’s a lot of information that he’s go there that applies across the board for restaurant owners, and also the idea about the masterminds. Really interesting idea. So, that’s it. Hopefully you’ll have a busy night. Bye.

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