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The Truth About Pizza Box Advertising / Marketing: My REAL Results

Updated on February 12, 2013

Looking for REAL Pizza Box Advertising Results from a Business Owner?

I own a popular retail store in Michigan; when the "opportunity" came along to advertise on Pizza Boxes for a popular franchise; it seemed like a gold-mine! Pizza Box Marketing may not be worth your investment. In this article I share my entire experience as well as real-life alternatives.

Pizza Box Advertsing Introduction

How I Came Across this "Opportunity"

A new(er) concept in marketing is advertising on pizza boxes. Pizza franchises have began selling advertisement space on their boxes. The cost to purchase an ad is around $400 for around 10,000 printed ads (this number can fluctuate based on the franchise, the size of the ad and the quantity of prints). The idea behind this concept is obviously that everyone who gets a pizza is going to see your advertisement (along with the other 12 - 20 advertisers on the box). Ideally, this concept sounds FANTASTIC; everybody likes pizza, right? And everybody HAS to open the box, right? So, in theory, this should be a GREAT opportunity - and perhaps it could be for some but not for me or my good friend who advertised with me.

My business is a boutique. My friends business is a bar and grill. Together, was thought that at least one of us would really hit the jackpot with this method of advertising because our businesses are so different. Both of us offered GREAT coupons within our ads - my friend offered a totally FREE appetizer and I offered a few different killer coupons, ranging from deep discounts to a totally FREE tote bag - no purchase required! - Awesome deals, right? Our results turned out to be beyond miserable. As far as I am aware, to date, my friends establishment only had ONE person redeem their coupon. And I have yet to get a single redemption!

So let's discuss some of the flaws and frustration I have dealt with in regard to Pizza Box Marketing / Advertising: (NOTE: I will not broadcast the name of the pizza franchise being that the franchise likely has little-to-no fault in this disaster)

DISASTER 1: Headache and Confusion

The company which solicits on behalf of the pizza franchise is a company hired by the pizza establishment(s) to sell ad space - so you're not working with the pizza franchise itself; you're instead working with someone who needs to successfully sell every available space. - I am not complaining about this necessarily, I am just pointing out that, looking back, the salesman didn't have any interest in the success or failure of my $400; based on the actions that occurred after paying for the ad, it seems he was willing to "say anything" just to "seal the deal". This lead to frustrations with inaccurate information in regard to several things, including misinformation on the type of art file that needed to be provided to the printer and even the size of the graphics… not to mention the advertisement appearing in a completely different location than what was paid for.

DISASTER 2: Pizza Boxes or Pizza Menus?

Is Your Ad Actually Being Given Out?

The advertisements are not printed onto boxes themselves; they are instead INSIDE of a "pamphlet" that is SUPPOSED to be ATTACHED to each box (by the minimum-wage-pizza-company- employees I assume because nobody in management is going to be preforming such a tedious task). At the alleged "1,500 pizza orders per week" this establishment receives; how many of those 1500 people do YOU believe genuinely received this pamphlet? I am not making any accusations, BUT, I find it interesting that, out of 10,000 advertisements, ZERO coupons for 100% Free Items were redeemed - and, since both my friend who owns the bar/restaurant and myself both advertised during the same timeframe; that would mean there was a combined total of 20,000 coupons (10,000 for my business and 10,000 for my friends business well, technically he had one redemption).

DISASTER 3: No Promotion

These "pamphlets" are NOT designed to promote ANY of the ADVERTISERS that are paying for space INSIDE the pamphlet. The front design of the pamphlet promotes the pizza franchise and their specials - with no mention of "LOOK INSIDE FOR GREAT LOCAL DEALS!" or anything of this nature so the entire pamphlet APPEARS to be nothing more than the pizza establishments menu. - If you are like me and order from the same 2 or 3 places when you want a pizza, you probably don't need a menu; you likely order the same things because you know they are good. Without any mention of "LOOK INSIDE", how many people will opt to open up the "menu" stuck to their pizza box? I don't think most people are expecting to find awesome coupons for freebies attached to their pizza box.

DISASTER 4: My Ad is Hidden!

More Awful Placement Tactics

The pamphlets also contain the pizza establishments full menu on it. The full menu for the pizza establishment is given prime advertising space. In my case, as mentioned, the front page of the pamphlet was strictly for the pizza establishment. When the pamphlet is opened, the giant pizza menu took up the majority of (prime) space on the right hand side of the page. Although there were a few advertisers UNDER the pizza menu, the majority of ads were placed on the left hand side of the interior of the pamphlet. If you don’t believe me about the placement being important; check your mail and get all you “junk mail”, especially the ones that are large (8.5 inches x 11 inches or larger and contain numerous pages) and flip through it; where does your eyes look first? Most likely you will first look at the right hand interior page then your eye will be drawn to the left hand side, IF the right side appealed to you. Me, personally, when I get magazines (or anything that is multi-page), I am right-handed, so when a page is opened, I naturally see the right page before I see the left page.

DISASTER 5: The Ads ARE NOT Going on Boxes??? What?!

The pizza box advertising pamphlets / menus / brochures whatever you want to call it at this point is also (supposedly) given out for walk-in customer orders as well as anyone wanting a "carryout menu". I don't know about you, but if I am grabbing an order of breadsticks and a slice of pizza for lunch and there's (what looks like) a pizza menu in my bag, I am throwing it out. Additionally, if I am going to the pizza establishment to look at a menu because I am friggin starving and don't know what I want to order, I am interested in the pizza menu, not advertisements. Human nature: if you're hungry your mind and body is focused on fulfillment of it's needs.

DISASTER 6: Location is...Eveything? Or Nothing?

More information; Due to this franchises reputation (as being a big name franchise, with around 50 locations just in the state of Michigan), I was stoked to advertise with the biggest location in my stores area. This specific location is 7 miles from my boutiques door and delivers to the entire area encompassing my retail store as well as my friends bar and grill. – I am only pointing this out because I bet someone is going to attempt to argue that I/we selected a location that is “too far away”; absolutely not true.

DISASTER 7: How Is This Possible? The Math Doesn't ADD Up!

Common Sense versus MY "CENTS"

Even More Information; I genuinely hate calling anything a "scam" or "sketchy" or even "shady"; so I won't use those words, BUT the data really tells-all; 20,000 ads and 1 total customer and let the truth be told; the one redemption my friends establishment received was from one of his REGULAR customers who he TOLD about the pizza box marketing (So they knew to look for the FREE APPETIZER coupon). I have spent time looking for REAL success stories online about this marketing tactic I have found nothing LEGITIMATE. What I have found is a lot of pizza box solicitation companies posting positive reviews and a lot of business owners who don't understand the program in addition to even worse scenarios than mine! In fact, some of these companies are even printing the ads on the BACK SIDE of the pamphlets / menus / brochures (again, whatever you want to call it).

BETTER ALTERNATIVES

In closing; could my situation be some kind of absolutely insane "fluke"; yeah, I guess... anything is possible, BUT the money paid out was REAL money - funds that could have been used in numerous other ways. I, personally, will NEVER advertise on Pizza Boxes again.

What I would highly recommend; INSTEAD of paying for pizza box advertising, for a LESSER price:

FIRST, Find yourself an awesome "Freebie" to give your customers with "No Purchase Necessary"; I love getting LOGO / BRANDED merchandise. I am for things that cost me $1 a piece or less; eco-friendly tote bags, water bottles, anything cool that fits your industry; theres everything from Thumb drives to Shot Glasses and so on (shop "Clearance Sections" on Custom Printing websites!!!). Check out the link below for where I order all my merchandise through (and the CLEARANCE section is FANTASTIC!)

Then make a coupon - fit as many as you can on one page and hire OUT THE PRINTING (DO NOT PRINT THEM YOURSELF)!!!! Your coupons will cost you basically nothing. I pay less than a penny per coupon (on quality, glossy paper). But, if you insist on starting small (under 100 total pages, then buy paper online and do a "test batch")

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