Club Perfect Ambassador SIMON BEST has capitalised on his status as an award-winning pizzamaker to generate valuable publicity for his popular Augello’s restaurant on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. But you don’t have to be a champion to take advantage of opportunities for local media exposure. In this article Simon shares a few helpful insights, offering advice on how to build a higher local profile for your pizza business.
THE LOCAL MEDIA is a great avenue for exposure and if you can get on the local TV news, everything else seems to flow from that. I was fortunate that when I won pizzamaking competitions, there were marketing companies attached to the event whose job was to let the local newspapers and TV stations know. But there are other ways to generate publicity than through winning an award. For example, participating in community fundraising activities, lending your support to local charities and so on can also help lift your profile — and you can be doing some good by contributing to a worthy cause at the same time.
Local radio is another important area that you shouldn’t overlook. We found that the local DJs, especially the morning crews, read the local paper every day to find out what’s going on and that informs what they should cover, so a mention in the paper will often lead to an opportunity for a radio spot. Once you’ve met the DJs, it’s a question of building up some rapport with them. These can be valuable connections to make because local DJs are often regarded as celebrities within the community — they will make appearances and announcements at events and it’s good to have those relationships in place.
In the last few years we’ve seen this explosion of social media and certainly that is a great way to increase local exposure. At Augello’s we employed the services of a social media expert who sat down with myself and my managers and we went through the best ways to utilise the various options available. I wasn’t that conversant with it myself but some of our younger staff members were. It required an investment of a few thousand dollars but was well worth it.
Now we have a constant presence on Facebook and Instagram — constantly uploading photos and making special offers because it brings in a lot of younger customers. One of our deals was if you picked up our posting on Instagram you would get a free garlic bread, and that night was an outstanding success so we’ve repeated the offer.
Another major innovation in recent years has been the growth of restaurant review and travel websites and apps. We’ve found Trip Advisor to be a great advertising tool — we’ve had a 4 rating for about four years in a row now, which is pretty hard to get. Websites like this are a terrific way to bring in local business as the listings and reviews are targeted and searchable by local area, so not only can locals get a recommendation about your food - people who don’t know the area but are planning a trip there can as well.
Positive comments on sites like this are worth a lot and I think we’re going to see a big expansion in Australia. In Europe it’s already so much bigger, so far we’re only at about 10 per cent of how big it can be here. Of course there’s also the opportunity for people to make negative comments and that can be an issue. My philosophy is we that we serve 1500 people a week on average and you will never be able to please everyone, so if we read one negative comment surrounded by a whole bunch of positive ones we know we’re doing OK.
That said, every now and then a customer will have a bad experience and if they post a comment to that effect I will try to get to the bottom of it — I’ll share the comments with the staff that were on that night, just as I share the positive comments with them too. That’s very important because everyone loves positive reinforcement.
Another area to consider is promoting your establishment with other local businesses, particularly those in complementary areas like tourism and accommodation. We are based in Mooloolaba which is a coastal town with a lot of tourist trade. So we do a lot of advertising in local holiday resorts and apartments, typically on key tags and keycards — we pay to have our logo and phone number included. If you think about it, when guests are using their room key they will see that logo and number five or six times a day. So we’ve found that to be a very worthwhile advertising investment.
Also when you’re paying for a key tag you can get on first name terms with the hotel managers and that can help get a higher profile for your business. We offer the managers a complimentary pizza once a year as thanks for their support, because we know they’re the ones who mention our name when someone from out of town checks in and wants a recommendation for where to eat.
So really it’s about getting to know your local community, seeing where the opportunities for publicity and exposure are, and then capitalising upon them — getting out there, making some noise and getting your name known.
Club Perfect Ambassador and Award-winning Pizzamaker Simon Best
Club Perfect Ambassador and Award-winning Pizzamaker Simon Best