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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Free Marketing Tip for Bakeries (Pi Day)

My day started with a tweetup, or rather, a #pieup at Grand Traverse Pie in Troy, Michigan. 

"Mmmm...pie on Pi day!" ~Brenda Meller
I met a half dozen other people (including      and a few others), for pie and coffee to celebrate the day that is linked with my favorite baked good: pie. 

Today is March 14, or rather, 3.14.

You may remember Pi from high school geometry. The area of a circle is equal to Pi times the radius squared. If you need a refresher, check out the Pi wikipedia page. Or ask any 16-year old.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to read the Facebook post from Grand Traverse Pie a day beforehand, promoting their celebration of Pi / Pie day on 3.14 at 3:14 p.m. One of their franchises took this a step further and gave away free slices of pie at 3:14 p.m.! This was not the reason that I visited their location, however, as I've been planning this along with a few connections for weeks. 

Those who know me well know that my baked good of choice is pie. I'm not sure what it is. Probably the combination of crust and filling. I dunno. A crust can make or break the pie, though, that's for sure. And my mom baked some excellent homemade pies when I was growing up.

But anyway, I've been very involved in social media and networking since I began my job at Walsh College, and this is the third year in a row I've tried to participate in the #pieup on March 14. I've been successful two out of three years. 

While at the PieUp, I was discussing with others how March 14 is such an excellent opportunity for every pie bakery to take full advantage of the day as a marketing tactic. They can tap in to their social web followers and find people like me who appreciate the clever connection between "Pie" and "Pi." And they can find super connectors who (like me) will invite others to join them via Twitter (a "tweetup"), via a Facebook event page, or by rewarding their VIPs on Foursquare who check in for Pie on Pi day. (sidebar: I earned 8 points on my Pi day Foursquare checkin!)

I'm hoping that you're the owner or manager of a bakery reading this blog post. If you are, please consider promoting the heck out of Pi day next year. Here are some suggestions how to do this:

  1. Make sure you designate March 14 as "Pie / Pi day" months in advance. Communicate this with your employees. 
  2. Come up with a promotional offer. Maybe it's buy a whole pie, get a piece free, or buy a piece, get a piece free. The better the offer, the more likely you'll get picked up by your local media. The better the offer, the more likely you'll gain a LOT of new traffic that day, too. 
  3. Promote the offer: add a mention in your sales receipt footers. Put a sticker on bakery boxes a month or so beforehand. Or print flyers and leave them on your counter by the registers. 
  4. Post this on your social web community pages, including Facebook and Twitter. And LinkedIn and YouTube if you have pages there, but those pages are less important, in my opinion. You don't have a social web pages on those sites? Chances are, all of your employees are active in social media. Pick someone and give them the title of social media manager and ask them to help you with your presence on these sites. Yes, you can trust them. It will be okay...
  5. Create an event page on Facebook. Invite your customers who are fans of your page to RSVP to the event. You can make it as specific as asking them to come to your store at 3:14p in the afternoon, or as broad as all day long. Have fun with it, and get those customers involved!
  6. If you have regular customers who come in with their laptops and tweet, see if you can figure out if they participate in tweetups. Ask them if anyone is planning a tweetup on Pie / Pi day, or March 14. 
  7. Create a YouTube video and tell your story about how your store is celebrating Pie / Pi day. Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet it. Make it amusing - that will help its passalong value. 
  8. When people come into your store on March 14, greet them with "Happy Pie Day" and inform them of your special offer that day. Bonus points if your cashiers are super enthusiastic!
  9. Take pictures of people who participate in your Pie / Pi day celebration. Post their pictures on your Facebook page. Tweet their photos.
Above all, have fun. People like visiting establishments where they are welcomed and celebrated. Not to mention places that sell delicious baked goods like pie. 

Happy Pi day to everyone! I celebrated with strawberry rhubarb and it was delicious. How about you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Smile at the Tim Horton's Drive-Through Window

Monday morning on my way to work, I went to Tim Horton's at 15 Mile Road and Utica in Fraser to redeem a free latte that I won in their "Roll up the Rim to Win" sweepstakes over the weekend. 

At the drive-through window, the young man opened the window and I told him I won a free latte. He then yelled out "YAHOO! Congratulations!" in such an exuberant tone you would've thought I just won the lottery.

It was quite amusing and made me laugh out loud. I'm quite sure it was the single best drive-through experience I've ever had, and one that I'll always remember. Not to mention it helped Monday get off to a great start!

I'm not sure if he was being overly sarcastic, or if he was just an outgoing, cheerful guy. Either way, it made me smile and glad that I stopped in that day. 

This is the same Tim Horton's that I take my son to for an occasional "Donut Day" breakfast. The Friday morning tradition started when he was in daycare, and we've continued it even though he's now in elementary school. I'm explaining this to illustrate how I was already a loyal customer to this location. 

Now they've gone and won me over all over again!

They say you're more likely to tell your friends and family about a bad customer experience. Not me. I'm more likely to share the good news. After I post this blog, I'm going to share with my nearly 2,000 Twitter followers and over 400 Facebook friends. 

Oh, and by the way, I rolled the rim on that coffee cup after I finished my latte, and guess what? Yes, I've won another free latte. :)