local media insider
Case study

32 pizza parlors enter Pick A Pizza Contest

Try this new take on selling into the pizza category

Alisa Cromer
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Company: RepAm.com,  Republican American

Market: Richfield County, Greater Waterbury and the Naugatuck River Valley, Connecticut

Circulation: 50,000 daily, about 350,000 monthly unique visitors

Iniative: Pick A Pizza Contest

Key Executive: Katie Sala, Digital and Classified Manager 

Challenge: Improve overall expertise in selling online marketing via a monetizable contest.

"I wanted to bring a little fun to the web site,  get some local buzz going, achieve some revenue and give the sales reps a fun experience in how to sell online," said Katie Sala, Digital and ClassifiedsManager.

Strategy:  Sala decided to set up the newspaper's first web-only contest on Second Street Media's Upickem balloting platform.

Balloting allows companies to compete against eachother two by two, starting with 32 pizzas parlors in 16 contests - much like sports contests.

As each elimination round ends, the field of competitors shrinks to  16,  then 8, then 4 until the final two winners are competing for votes - and the championship.

The contest started by matching up competitors based on  proximity, so that pizza stores competed against  their closest neighbor.  Tthe finalists in the last round were were about 40 minutes apart from eachother, adding some neighborhood pride to the competition. 

Private groups could also play by clicking on the "Create a private group" tab in the UPickem platform. Rules (included here) included one entry per round, that winners lived within 60 miles of the pizza store, and email notification of winning receives a response within seven days.

The editorial department also gave the contest a lot of support, featuring the contest in the arts and entertainment section. The paper is published on Wednesdays.

Email blasts and online ads also promoted the contest.

Contestants paid a fee of $100, plus  donated one pizza. 

"I could easily see charging $200 with 64 entries," Sala says.

 "This was just a fun promotion that helped with other contracts.  We charged the same low rate for everybody, but this gave (reps) something else to come in and talk about. Then they could talk about the other products, (such as ) the dining guide,  etc. " 

Results:

• "We were succesful on all fronts. The cool thing about it is that we sold out pretty quickly in ten days."

•  Audiences loved the contest.

"Everyone has an opinion about pizza. And everyone  has their place close to them. We had more than 5000 voters," which added net increases to the email list.

• The winner was a unique brand,  Anna's Pizza, in Prospect, Connecticut.  

"It's smaller than my office and they won," Sala said.  "Actually everyone was wrong about who they predicted the winners would be."

Anna's Pizza lobbied for the vote by putting  a flier on every box of pizza they sold.  

• After the contest the local CBS  station did an interview on the winner, who ran out of boxes and cheese because they had too much business.

• Only modest reveue gains.  With 32 pizza stores at $100, the contest only generated direct revenues of $3200.

"This is great contest to kick a contest program, but not the one that is going to make $50,000. (The point of this contest is) low price point and the fun factor."

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

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