Sunday, September 28, 2014

People Who LIke Bowling...

When you work in any business, like bowling or family entertainment center, you can break ALL the rules at your own risk and ignore the pioneers who went before you and figured out the rules.  
But there is nothing to prevent you from breaking some of the rules and do something that gets people talking about you. 
But first you have to figure out who you're breaking the rules for
If it's for people who don’t bowl, you have a lot of preaching and teaching to do because candidly they don't even think about you and certainly don’t think about bowling for 34 weeks (besides the fact that you have probably been invisible for some time).
And if it's for your existing traditional bowlers, you can’t really change it too much, simply because they like it the way it is. That’s why they bowl at your center.
For those who have dropped out completely, well, they're just not waiting around for you to fix it how they want it fixed. 
Those who come occasionally, your open play bowler don't come that frequently to even think you have a problem.  Sure they would like it (like many other services) cheaper, cleaner, friendlier, and happier.  
You just have to be careful what rules you break and what you decide to change.   Think of it like the “Under New Management sign” at a restaurant.  
Those that liked the place, aren't going to embrace change because they know that some of those changes will cause jacked up prices and more people trying to get in for those precious tables. 
For those people who didn't like the old place in the first place, it’s going to cost you a whole lot more to get them to try you out anyway.  
First they don't even think about you and second, if they do think about you, they think about the last negative experience they had or heard about from friends.
The only opportunity you have is to create a series of events that build expectations so great that these non-bowlers, and very occasional casual bowlers, will have no choice but to try it. 
If you are successful in choosing this series of “successfully- surpassing- peoples- experiences events”, you will build a pathway that gets people from sitting on their couch to sitting on your settee seats or sofas.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Solve The Problem First. Then Worry About The Price

According to PEW Research, women now comprise 50% of the workforce. 

70% of Moms now work outside of the home and work an average of about 25 hours and of these women, 40% are the SOLE earner of the household

Twenty years ago, 50% of Moms worked outside of the home and averaged just 15 hours per week.

Yet, Mothers today spend MORE time with their kids than they did in the 1960’s and still do almost two-thirds of the chores associated with “second shift”, meals, taking kids to the doctor, cleaning etc.  

Yet women now have three (3) hours less of LEISURE time than Dads while Dads actually have three (3) hours more.

So Mom is more stressed out, more tired and maybe a little more concerned about “just relaxing and enjoying herself and her family”.  Maybe even feeling a little “guilty” about not spending enough LEISURE time with her children and husband. 

Knowing this issue, doesn't it make sense to sell family time bowling or stress free time or weekend rock out instead of $1 games that you only sell anyway to existing customers and as a surprise to customers who just walked in?

Of course it does. So what do you do?

Solve a problem. Make someone feel good about your product. Bring some joy to the target audience and they’ll come back again and again…regardless of price.

Then whatever problem you are saying you can solve; here’s headline:
Not Spending Enough Fun Time With Your Family” We Understand. We Are Parents Too.”

Now explain how you can solve this problem. 

And then, for "*^+"s  sake", please tell someone about it; your existing open play bowlers, your Kids Bowl Free Moms, your schools and don’t forget TV. Cable is less expensive today on a per thousand basis than ever before. As much as you hear about social media, TV is still the big gorilla in the room. 

Use it as a schedule or combine it with banner ads, pre roll digital ads and in subscriber media. If this is all Greek to you, call your cable ad person and speak to her. 

Then send me the proposal she sent you and I’ll be happy to analyze it FREE.

It’s my way of getting you and the bowling industry to stop being INVISIBLE…because given the lack of media exposure about bowling, we will get sicker, less visible and painfully shrink away.  

If you think I’m being facetious about price, tell me why some centers get $75 for a simple Pizza Pins N Pop program. 

Mostly because it’s delivered warm, delivered passionately and with delivered with the desire to make the customer feel like a rock star.

You can do this.  I know you can.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You're Still Doing IT!

You’re still doing it. 

You’re still sending me emails that tell me about a new league, about the need for teams, about your Tuesday night special or about your kids sign up days. You’re still using your email and Facebook like its free direct mail. 

It’s not and you’re paying a heavy price with more opt outs every day, fewer people signing up for your “newsletter and fewer people even opening your email; under 12% or lower is the national average; that’s less than 1 out of 8 people even open it. .01% click thru to your site!

Want to know why your numbers are so low?  It’s because you are not sending them meaningful content; information that HELPS THEM, NOT YOU. Educational information that HELPS THEM, NOT YOU.

Stop selling and start educating. Find the problem and fix it. And you do it by making an emotional connection.

Here Is An Example of What I Am Talking About: 
"Did you know that less than one in 7 American households eat dinner together at least twice a week. That’s kind of sad when families can’t get together and share ideas, get help with problems or just be with each other for some emotional support.

We know families that have recognized this and even make a date; at least once or twice a   month they hold a family meeting and everyone HAS to be there. No excuses.  Maybe it's a   Sunday night or a Friday after the work week. Whenever it is, there has to be a good time to get your family together. We’re Happy Lanes right her in your home town and we would be glad to set aside a place and a time at your choosing for your family to get together and share the good times of bowling together.

Unlike a movie or playing video games, everyone can have plenty of time to sit around and    talk about whatever they feel like all while enjoying America’s tenpin game.  Look us up at and stop by for some family time…and make some memories"... and of course you add the obligatory family picture of people laughing and hugging, because that's what you want your audience to believe they will get at your center....not that they got cheap bowling at 99 cent game!!!!!!!!" 

 They can get that anywhere!!!!!!!!

See, I didn’t try to sell you. I recognized your problem. I didn’t assume that you were interested in MY product. I recognized your problem and tried to connect on an emotional level.

Did I succeed?

You tell me

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

8 Ways to Have a Profitable Friday Night Cosmic Program...Even During HS Football Season

Friday Night HS Football Player
Do you remember when we couldn't wait for Labor Day because the next day, leagues started and the following weekend we had open play; we had waiting lists, we had “kaching, kaching, kaching” and we were all feeling good.

Now September is the start of Junior Soccer, Junior Football, Junior Lacrosse, Friday Night HS Football, Saturday, Sunday and Monday Night College and Professional Big Screen Hi Def TV Football Games, Sports Bars, Home Chores like raking leaves and getting the house all winterized;  Family Entertainment Centers like Dave and Busters and Lucky Strike; and restaurants, row upon row; not to mention extended shopping hours on Friday and Saturday nights as well as Sundays. 

Did I miss anything? Probably 100 other competitive venues all looking for the consumers' precious discretionary dollar

Sometimes we forget about all this competition and complain that the bowling business is dying.  No, it is not dying; it just isn't competing as well as it could.

Here’s an example of how I see centers competing
For those of you in states where “Friday Night Lights” is more religion than Sunday church, you know how tough it is to compete with HS football.

But what have you done to compete? 

Here’s what I have seen.  Don’t even acknowledge that HS Football exists. Just keep promoting your cosmic bowling at the same old price; cut price from Saturday’s cosmic special or your regular Friday special; host a two for one entry fee; offer free pizza with four or more people; and so on. All great promotions. All great ideas, but they don’t work.

What to do?

First, acknowledge that the cosmic program IS AN AFTER HS FOOTBALL PROGRAM and make sure your content specifies that cosmic bowling is something to do at your center after the game.

Second, be part of the game; distributing coupons to people in the stands or parking lots, be in the weekly “Program.”

Third: sponsor a weekly  scholarship of $100 for the athlete who achieves_________________.

Fourth; make sure very cosmic Friday night is a fund raiser for various schools and a percentage of the bowling revenue (i.e. 10%) will go to the football team.

Fifth, Offer two free games to all students if the team scores over X# of points (certain restrictions apply and they have to come to the center to show their student ID in order to get their free game coupons and give you their email address.)

Sixth, during the season, host a couple of fun events at the center comprised of 2 cheerleaders and two football players per team. Winning team gets $100 in funds towards the football team’s kitty and the individual winners get $50 in free bowling (certain restrictions apply and they have to come to the center to show their student ID in order to get their free game coupons and give you their email address.)

Seventh, communicate this in school paper on school Facebook pages, weekly football programs, email your 14 to 21 yr. old list (those born from 1994 to 2000) or your 35 to 44 female parents who would be more likely to have kids in HS and promote at local merchant stores. What store doesn't want to promote the local HS football team?  As a sidebar this is also a good way to get a short season league going with the stores to raise money for the football team. J

Eighth, in today’s society, especially if you want to reach this target audience, this segment of Millennial Generation (those born from 1980 to 2000 don’t get turned on by price specials, but they do get turned on by an AUTHENTIC CIVIC EFFORT to do good work for their benefit and will respond with positive word of mouth if you are, as the Beach Boys once said, “Be True To Your School.”

P.S. For further clarification of this new generation, please read or refer to “Millennials Rising” by Neil Howe and William Strauss.