Sunday, April 27, 2014

Whats Your Point of View?

I recently read a blog post from a very well know blogger who stated that THE most important job a marketing professional has is to get others (clients, bosses, her staff, customers and prospects) to accept her point of view.

No doubt that is important, but I think the number one job a professional marketing person needs to successfully and logically complete is to passionately develop that point of view in the first place.

Friday, April 25, 2014

How To Take A Different Shot This Summer

It’s the end of the fall/winter league season. Many centers’ winter leagues have already ended and spring/summer leagues are starting. 

Other centers’ leagues will go another 3 to 4 weeks, or even more, due to snow cancellations and the like which could result in a shortened summer league schedule. 

No doubt you are doing your lane to lane solicitation, call back programs, emailing and social media strategies to sign up as many summer league bowlers as possible, right?

If you’re doing these tasks and treading water, maybe it’s time to take a shot at something different; like a monthly open play bowling pass.

Years ago, probably in the mid to late nineties, when I headed up the marketing effort for a 62 center chain (Bowling Corporation of America), we experimented with monthly summer open play passes in our upstate NY centers and Michigan centers; two areas that we had a notoriously difficult time in flooring summer bowlers. 

(In these environments, anything over 50 degrees was summer and everyone was outside)! Getting them back inside was a “toughy”.

So we countered that with a  price package of unlimited open play bowling for you and 1 friend for $29.95. For 2 months it was $49.95 and for 3 months it was $59.95. After two people, everyone else paid the prevailing rate. Back then we used punch cards to track usage and plan future marketing plans. 

Shoe rentals were uniformly set at $2. Remember these price points were “mid Nineties” prices in low summer league based centers. Very low :(

It was a successful program in that it met our fairly ambitious sales goals.  We planned to roll out the following summer with all the marketing support we could muster. 

But, by then, BCA was sold to another chain…and we never did get our shot to repeat it.

Maybe you can take your shot this summer…after your leagues floor, of course.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Write an Email for Summer League Bowling

No doubt you have read some of my rants about not using social media properly. In this blog, I have tried to use a little humor and add my selling point as well.

The motivators of FEAR and GAIN can usually get people to take action; the fear that they will "miss out" on something (I.e. "This deal will expire soon, so you better do something NOW) and the opportunity "to gain" something (I.e. "You've just scored one great deal and a great car that your friends will go wild about.").

Using these kinds of motivators, hot buttons are pushed, eyes glaze over and prospects now become customers.  Now, it doesn't happen all at once. You have to say it over and over; usually a campaign of four emails over 20 to 25 daysto to the relevant target audience. In the old media world, it took 12 to 14 impressions to make a dent.  

Do you know how many emails we see every day? A bazillion, right? so set up a series of three or even four on the same theme. Then space them out over a period of 5  to 6 days in between each email to the same targeted "cell" (described below).

If this is your 1st email, then the second and third ones should talk about variuous preventative methods to stop mosquito bites (Google that). 

Here's an example of one email I would send to women and men 25 to 44. 

If you are able to segment my data base into women and men, then you might have a subject line like, "Ladies, don't let mosquitoes spoil your BBQ. New miracle formula . Or "Guys, a sure fire way to make your BBQ great." Or How to Get Mosquitos To Never Bite You Again.

I would also add actual facts about mosquito bites from a person knowledgable out this subject. You could also try a "split test" where you would make another offer to the same segments. In effect, you would have two (2) male segment cells and two (2) female segment cells. You can then judge responses by click throughs to a landing page or emails back to you or good old fashioend phone calls.

Nothing Spoils a Back Yard BBQ Faster Than a Swarm of Mosquitoes, Not to Mention the Endless Scratching That Results!!

“Gotta love summer. Great views. Great people”

How about one night a week where you don’t have to cook, where you can get away from mosquitoes and relax in air conditioned comfort while you enjoy some fun with friends and family?

Its Summer Bowling Where You can Knock Down 10 Pins, Just Kick back and Enjoy The Fun.

We have 8 to 12 week bowling sessions for competitive bowlers, social bowlers, kids and adults, baby boomers, programs for rookies and programs where you get to go to a (baseball team name) game or get a new bowling ball.  Just click here (landing page link of our summer program  schedule) to see our schedule and then call us to reserve your spot or to ask us any questions. (phone number).

It’s Your One Night A Week Chance To Escape The Mosquitoes  and Enjoy The Fun, Fun, Fun

Center Name, LOGO, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone, Website, Email Go Here

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who Is Talking About It Now?

Every now and then I get a stretch (like 3 days) in the office where I can catch up, get some sitting and staring time and just wonder about “what if” scenarios.

My main thrust is always “What If” I did X for my clients, would it work? Would they have success?  Would it meet the “realistic” goals we set? How could it be most easily implemented? How much training would it take? What would the timing be?  How could we measure it or would it be looked upon as something “they” just didn’t like? 

And if they didn’t like it, how could I communicate the benefits of the program better (again) to them?

The hardest part isn’t coming up with the idea. The hardest part is getting someone to change their mind about some set ideas they may have; ideas that have been shown to be true maybe once or twice, in the customers’ minds are instantly cast in stone as being 100% everlasting. 

Just one bad customer experience at your center is probably enough to convince that family that your center is “always that way” or has “gone downhill.” Changing that mind set becomes a very difficult task, very difficult indeed.

And as a marketer, you have to get people to trust your product as both an economic and emotional value. Maybe, you have to get certain segments of your market to trust your product that it will provide them with new benefits they haven’t even thought of yet so they will use your product even more. 

More importantly, you have to get the people who already believe and trust in your product to tell their friends and family about good your product works or makes them feel.

Some marketers try to change the customer’s mind set by offering the cheapest price for what they believe, and in some cases have convinced themselves of, is a commodity product. Other brands try to offer the highest price, zeroing in on the product’s prestige and luxury attributes.  Others try to offer better service, guarantees, rebates, loyalty rewards, and a host of other tactics to get customers to trust their product’s benefits in order to stimulate a purchase.

Through all of this, it all comes down to trust.

Do you trust the spokesman of the product enough to believe the products attributes? Or even the product’s attributes? (All fully demonstrated and documented of course!) Is there enough inherent proof in the product itself to add to its credibility so the customer will believe it will make her life better, more convenient, less painful or give her more happiness?

Here is something I thought about; kind of a Facebook post, but also a 30 second blurb on your website:

“Hi I’m Fred, owner of Happy Lanes and I would like you to come to Happy Lanes. Sure it’s a bowling alley, but it’s also a place where you and your family can get away from the TV, the X Box, the WIFI, the I-Tunes, the text messages  and cell phone and do something you may not have done as a family in a while…just talk.  So bring the family to Happy Lanes, bowl for two hours, have some fun and just talk with each other; just $25 for up to 5 people for two hours of bowling fun… and those cool shoes.”  C’mon in and be a family again cause the family that plays together stays together.”

Now if you really felt this way; were passionate about it and got behind it, you could be a spokesman to get families to start talking with one another; to talk about what’s happening at school, work, relationships and all kinds of things. Maybe if your local schools or PTA Moms got behind this, it would go viral. And your center, Happy Lanes, would be the star of the show, the first to take a stand about family communications.
What do you think? 

Want to talk about it?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What The Balloon Man Taught Me About Social Media Marketing

There’s a way to use social media and a way not to use social media. I have spoken of this subject many times imploring everyone not to turn your Facebook into a substitute for a flier.

And while I am still getting many examples of this type of usage it thought I would really spell out, what I think is the best way to do it. so here is an example of what a social media campaign can do.

First, think campaign; think three or four emails over a period of 3 to 4 weeks that build up to the program you are trying to introduce. So here’s an example of 4 stages of emails

#1: The Tease:  “I was walking through Central Park today when I saw a man selling balloons. I hadn’t seen a balloon guy since I was a kid. But there he was. Selling balloons for a $1 each and he said, “If you buy two balloons, you’ll get the pretty red balloon for free.”  

(Insert picture of balloon man.  Which got me thinking?  What if I offered two hours of Cosmic Bowling at Happy Lanes to you guys this Saturday night, April 12th, and gave you the third hour free? Would you come?  Let me know.

#2: The Sale:  Guess what? I had a bunch of people show up at Happy lanes this past Friday night and they bowled for two hours and had so much fun, that they decided to stick around and bowl for free.  I was happy they stayed and since it was about 8 lanes of people or so, I made them all free pizzas and we just hung out listening to some 80’s music. It was kinda cool.  

Here’s a quick you tube clip of some of the Happy Lanes bowlers eating pizza and bowling for free?  (Insert video or still photos with names and some testimonials).  I think I’m going to keep this going, but let me know what you think, if I should add some other goodies

#3: The Reinforcement:  Hey, did you miss last Saturday night at Happy Lanes cosmic night.  It turned into a real party.  Lots of people came for the free third hour and during that hour someone had the idea that we should do a trivia contest. So for the third hour I spun some tunes and every song was a trivia song.  Everybody got into it and the big winner was Josie Samuels of East Warrensburgville. 

We gave her a $25 gift certificate for free bowling and a free pizza to take home for some late night munchies and  a free entry to Cosmic bowl any time she wants.  You should have seen her. (Insert picture or videos of Josie). She got so excited; she was jumping up and down. Catch this picture of our friend Josie

#4:  The Close:  Here’s what a couple of people have been saying about our Happy lane s cosmic night.  (insert quotes and pictures). Some of think I’m kinda funny for doing all of this stuff, but lots of people like it. In fact, I went looking for the Balloon man in central park to get him to give away a bunch of balloons at the center this Saturday.  

I paid him for all his balloons and every time someone got a strike we gave out a balloon, which immediately got popped, but hey, it was fun. We kept the third hour for free and decided that we could sell pizza for that third hour for just 99 cents a slice. My accountant went little nuts when I told him we were doing it for free, but ah heck, its bowling, it’s supposed to be fun. 

So this Saturday night (day and date) come for our super duper cosmic trivia, get a fee balloon and pizza for just $16 for two hours of rock em sock ‘em cosmic bowling and get the their hour free.  If I can think of anything else to do to make you laugh I will, but if you think of it first, let me know.

 And that’s a social media campaign for cosmic bowling. Now what can you think of for other programs.  You can always insert posts that people send you in between the different emails to keep the campaign alive.

But notice that I always utilized several key elements:

1.      I asked for feedback and ideas
2.      I posted pictures and videos and testimonials
3.      I never sold. I told a story
4.      I made it fun and light
5.      I engaged people and they gave me feedback and I posted it

Now, go find yourself a balloon man:)

Monday, April 7, 2014

6 Secrets To Boost Your Summer Revenue

If you are thinking about your summer league bowling plans; good for you. If you have your plans done; great.  If you haven’t started yet, well, good luck!

But no matter what state your plans are in, here are a couple of more ideas to kick your revenue bucket into a higher gear;

Here are a few tips to make your summer even better:

1.     Don’t rely on just one flooring cycle. Sure your winter leagues will end about the same time give or take a week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have programs in late June mid July and even early August.

2.     Establish programs for people who don’t know they are not supposed to bowl in the summer; whether it be church fund raising leagues for 6 or 8 weeks, or any fund raising organization, you will build some revenue and get some people interested in your other programs you have to offer.

3.     Make belie it is October and go after companies for indoor picnics where you never get rained out, where you never have ants or mosquitoes and no one gets heat stroke.  If you are diligent in this fashion, it could be your biggest winner ever.

4.     Set up 8 for 8 programs every month, May, June, July and August and place them so they can carry over to the fall in time slots you will know you have open.  BY always having an 8 for 8 program available, you always have a portal to entry and let people know that there ARE lanes available at your center…always.

5.     Start a KBF league; two games but you get the same kids there on specific days and can start informally coaching them and maybe get them into an 8 week for 8 bucks have a ball program.  Add food and drink specials and even a fun two game tournament or two with kids on certain days. Play your cosmic bowling and give away fun prizes that you can buy at Rebecca’s for 10 cents each. 

6.     Beat the doors down for fund raisers. You have plenty of lane availability and lots of people who are raising money.  Go get a list of nonprofit groups and start emailing, mailing and calling them NOW. start with your local chamber of commerce, Kiwanis, Moose, Eagles and K of C clubs.

I’m not saying this stuff easy, but if it was, everybody would do it!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My One and Only Annual Sales Pitch

Every year about this time, I reach out to you to ask for your support for my charity (SAY.Org)

SAY is the new and improved re branded name for "Our Time."

This is the only time I ever try to sell you something. Ever.

SAY stands for Stuttering Association For The Young. You may not know it, but more than 70 million people in the world stutter, including 5% of all children.

In a world that can be unkind to those who are "different," kids who stutter are often marginalized, humiliated, and meant to feel that they are "bad" because of their stutter.

Their pain and frustration to express themselves is heartbreaking.

Kids who suffer from the pain, frustration and anguish struggle to participate in class, communicate with their friends and family, speaking on the phone or even ordering a Coke at the local convenience store.

Often, to shield themselves from ridicule and humiliation, kids who stutter emotionally shut down and put up barriers which, unfortunately can lead to the child never reaching his full potential.

At, we help these kids break down these barriers through singing, dancing and acting. No one ever stutters when they sing or act in a different voice and the confidence they gain is so very powerful.

This April 28th, we will be hosting our 12th Gala event, a major fund raiser to generate  revenue to carry on these higly effective and meaningful programs.

I know all about stuttering. I am one.

And that's why as a proud SAY Board member, I am asking that you support us with your dollars. Whether it is $5, $10 $25, $50 or $100, your contribution would be most appreciated.  This year our honoree is John Scully,  a former stutterer and former Pepsi and Apple executive.

Please support SAY's innovative programs that have helped thousands of kids to realize that they have a voice that matters. And if you are in NYC on Monday, April 28th, please join us at our gala event as we debut our new organizational name; SAY

It's an opportunity for you to see what kids will SAY whats in their heart; SAY what they feel and SAY it in their own words.  It's also an opportunity to rub elbows with some very famous Hollywood and Broadway actors like Paul Rudd, Richard Belzer, Jesse L Martin, Meredith Viera and many more.

For more information on how to contribute, please click and paste here.  And when you send your check, just put Fred Kaplowitz on the bottom left hand side line so I can send you a personal thank you marketing gift.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for reading this blog and for your future support of SAY.

Much Love to All