Mountain Mike's Brings Marketing Message Directly to their Consumers
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Mountain Mike's Brings Marketing Message Directly to their Consumers

Mountain Mike's Brings Marketing Message Directly to their Consumers

Pizza franchises operate in a crowded, competitive marketplace. Competition for new customers is fierce, as is keeping existing customers. To meet this challenge, Carol DeNembo, CMO at Mountain Mike’s Pizza, introduced several new digital marketing strategies aimed at promoting a consistent brand message and attracting new customers. Below, she discusses how Mountain Mike’s establishes and promotes its brand identity to appeal to both franchisees and customers.

How do Mountain Mike’s franchise opportunities stand out in such a competitive space?

Our strong value proposition attracts candidates to our franchise opportunity, which includes the following key factors:

• Pizza is a high-demand industry. Everybody eats pizza. It has proven to be recession-proof and pandemic-proof. Plus, it’s the most beloved food on the planet.

• Our premium positioning and higher price points equal higher margins. Also, we don’t rely solely on heavy discounting. Our guests are seeking a quality pizza experience, and that’s what we deliver: “Pizza the Way it Oughta Be!”

• We offer a tremendous growth opportunity for candidates to get in on the ground floor; prime territories are still available across the United States.

• We’re technology- and innovation-focused. Digital sales are more than 40% of our business, and our fully integrated, 100% cloud-based POS platform helps us capture sales through dozens of channels. From product news to market expansion, we’re tapping into every opportunity to elevate our brand, improve our systems, and create a pathway to success for our franchisees.

• Visionary leadership team. We are a 100% franchised system, so 100% of our focus is on our franchisees. The leadership team brings restaurant and franchise experience across dozens of brands and decades, and we leverage that experience toward making our franchisees as successful as possible. That’s priceless.

How does Mountain Mike’s leverage its brand identity to attract both customers and franchisees?

Mountain Mike’s brings families, sports fans, and communities together to dine, share, and celebrate. We have a steadfast commitment to quality, serving “Pizza the Way it Oughta Be!” Our success has been built on simple ingredients: great food, great experiences for families, strong community ties—especially with local sports teams— and franchisee satisfaction.

How do you use digital marketing channels to engage with your audience?

We meet our guests where they are and use an omnichannel approach to ensure we are attractive and accessible to our customers. Digital marketing channels also help us target the ideal Mountain Mike’s guests through demographics, geographics, and, psychographics. With this information in hand, we can identify the guests who find our product and experience valuable and reach them through their preferred channels.

What role does social media play? What platforms have been most successful?

Through social media, our guests eat with their eyes. We prioritize sharing visuals of those zesty teacups of joy, cheese pulls, decadent dessert pizzas, our popular heart-shaped pizzas, and other delicious products that organically engage our guests and deepen affinity across several platforms. It goes back to meeting our guests where they are and using those platforms to attract like-minded guests to our brand.

How does Mountain Mike’s support franchise owners in marketing the brand locally?

We leverage promotions, public relations, targeted offers, limited-time offers, food innovation, new product rollouts, and an extensive multichannel digital strategy to drive trial and new guest acquisition. We provide the playbook for our franchisees to focus on their operations, perfecting that guest experience, as well as being a pillar in their community.

How do you keep current with industry trends and innovations?

In addition to leveraging relationships with our partners and suppliers, attending food conferences, and surveying our guests, we always have our finger on the pulse of industry trends. Having acquired the company seven years ago, we have embarked on a transformative journey. Our focus has been on building our advanced technology stack, which includes building a best-in-class website, online ordering, integrated third-party delivery system, and the launch of a loyalty app. We have successfully implemented these initiatives within a relatively short period, shifting huge marketing dollars to digital, partnerships, and more that make us stand out and stand above the competition. Our ongoing efforts are dedicated to exploring every available avenue to ensure the success and relevance of our franchisees.

What are some of the biggest challenges unique to your brand?

The current marketing landscape is highly competitive, with audiences reportedly exposed to up to 10,000 marketing messages daily. While our challenges are not unique, one persistent difficulty for any brand is capturing new audiences. Luckily, digital advertising enables us to break through the noise and attract new guests to our brand experience. This approach helps us level the playing field and go head-to-head with larger competitors in our space.

How does Mountain Mike’s foster community among its franchisees?

We host a franchise convention each year, offering an invaluable opportunity to share successes, award stellar performance, deepen franchisee relationships, develop forward-thinking strategies, and examine critical issues and opportunities affecting our bottom line. We call it our “family reunion,” and it consistently stands out as a highlight of the year. Additionally, we foster a sense of community through contests centered around our limited-time offers and promotions that drive engagement at the team level and encourage widespread participation.

What advice would you give emerging franchisors looking to improve their marketing?

Know thyself. Knowing who you are as a brand, staying true to your roots, and focusing on targeting those guests who find your products or services attractive is key. You can’t be everything to everyone.

What are you most proud of in your work with Mountain Mike’s?

From a legacy brand that was essentially flying under the radar for 40 years to a top pizza chain, we are no longer pizza’s best kept secret. Our achievements, brand recognition, and growth in units and sales are a testament to our passionate franchisees and their daily dedication to providing our guests with ”Pizza the Way it Oughta Be!”

Founded in 1978 in Palo Alto, California, Mountain Mike’s currently has almost 300 restaurants across the western U.S.

Published: June 12th, 2024

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