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Selling pizza is a classic example of differentiating a relatively homogenous product. For most restaurants that sell pizza, the menu is the same. Pizza consists of crust, sauce and topping: How can you make yours stand out? Successful restaurant marketing.

Are you thinking that may be easier said than done? Believe it or not, there are some companies that have had success with pizza marketing, and many of their ideas cost little or nothing at all.

Just check out these five pizza marketing gimmicks:

1) Austin's Pizza in Austin, Texas

A customer ordered a pizza with a special request that a unicorn fighting a bear be drawn on the box. The assistant manager fulfilled the order and emailed a note explaining that while they were unable to draw the requested figures on the box directly, he was attaching a post-it note with a drawing of the unicorn/bear combat to the outside of the box.

The man who ordered the pizza broadcast the pizza parlor's service on the website Reddit, where it generated more than 700 comments. Today, you can order a pizza called the Reddinator and the Google trend view for Austin's Pizza for before and after this "gimmick" can be seen here:

2) Hell Pizza, a chain in New Zealand

This start-up pizza company created a YouTube choose your own adventure style video called “Deliver Me To Hell.” The result is a 15 minute film, broken into 3 minute chunks as you make decisions on which adventure to choose. With over 110,000 views in the first 4 days, this pizza company is making waves down under and bringing customers into their "hell holes" (stores.)


3) SPIN! Neapolitan in Kansas City, Missouri

This pizza company offers "crummy weather vouchers" that give customers 20% off when the weather is bad, encouraging people to go out for pizza. About 40,000 of the vouchers have been distributed, according to the company owner.

Even more, they do regular bikerides, inviting all customers to ride with them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturday. At the end of the ride, SPIN offers them 10% off a meal.

4) The Pizza Garden in Nehalem, Oregon

Reverse the ordering process: customers set a budget and tell the chef what they absolutely don't want on the pizza. Anything else goes. The restaurant claims that word of mouth has brought in many more customers and that while the concept started at one of his other restaurants, he decided to expand it with the Pizza Garden because the gimmick worked so well.

5) Hidden Pizza, Melbourne, Australia

Offer a free pizza - but don't list your company location. This viral campaign launched by the Yellow Pages made people track down the parlor's location themselves. The reward? Free pizza. The strategy netted 2,000 Facebook 'Fans' and 1,800 followers on Twitter in just three days.

Customers smart enough to find the phone number and order were texted the restaurant's address and the number of free pizzas was capped at 500.

How Can You Apply This To Your Restaurant Marketing Strategy?

Marketing gimmicks, whether silly, off the cuff, or as a million dollar marketing campaign can all work as long as you offer the quality to back up the "gimmick." Pizza ordering is a habit-driven practice, and customers go back to where they have been pleased before. A slick trick or video may drive in initial business, but a tasty product will ensure a repeat customer and ensure that you are building customer loyalty for a long time to come. 

What restaurant marketing ideas have you used to build out a solid plan? Share with us! 

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