Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The 7 Steps to Profiting from Company Holiday Parties

Raise your hand if you're one of those last minute Louie types that JUST sent a mailer to companies in your area for Holiday parties.  Raise your hand if the telephone or email has not started to ring.  Raise your hand if you didn't do anything.  .Ok, we understand…but help is on the way.

For all of you whose hands are still up, slap yourself once or twice and read these tips to gain business.

·        First of all, realize that December and part of January could add $25,000 to your cash registers if you did four (4) $1,000 parties every week over six and a half weeks.

·        Second, you can get to these parties if you have several tools such as: party menu, great cover letter and valid name and addresses of companies in the area.  Lacking these tools, you will need to invent the first two and buy the latter from your chamber of commerce or other mailing service. I have used Infousa.com with some success; others have been displeases.  It’s all in the way you approach it and follow up.

·        Third, once you send the information out, start calling back and INVITE THE RECIPIENT TO VISIT YOUR CENTER AND TAKE A TOUR.

·        Fourth, every day you should be posting on your Facebook page a little different story or poem or video or photos relating to the holiday season and NOT necessarily about your offer. You can mention that in the back end of the post. There are some great funny and informative videos on Youtube and great photos on Flickr (free) that you can use in your postings

·        Fifth, use your emails; one every 6 to 7 days to tell people about your little stories, your offer and any other “interesting stuff” about the holidays. Some topics you can consider are: The real story of Christmas; Who was St. Nicholas? My very special Christmas; Your center’s efforts to feed the homeless this Christmas; Your center’s Toys for Tots program.  Be creative and inform and entertain

·        Sixth, don’t forget your league bowler.  Give them coupons for Holiday parties they can give to their HR people for your center. Ask them who their HR person is and if you can call them and use them as a referral. 90% will say yes
o   You: “Hi This is Fred from Happy Lanes, may I speak to Ms. Manners
o   Them: Yes, and what is this in reference to?
o   You: Yes, Larry Morgan your first shift supervisor suggested that I call MS Manners
o   Them: OK, please hold for Ms. Manners
o   Now there is a chance that the gate keeper will push you to find out what it is about.  In that instance, just say “It is about a special event that Mr. Morgan wanted me to discuss personally with Ms. Manners. May I speak with her, please
o   That should do it

·        Seventh, as the days trickle down target companies having less than 50 employees. They are usually last minute Louies…kind of like some of you J

Friday, October 24, 2014

Worry and Wonder

“What’s happening to the industry, Fred? What will it be like, now that Brunswick is out of the retail part of the business, Fred? “When will we see the bottom of league attrition, Fred?” “When will my cosmic get good again? I used to have 175 people here every Friday and Saturday night. Now I have 47…both nights, Fred. 

As I traveled around the country this fall meeting and consulting with many new clients, these questions and worries became more apparent.  In fact, they became pervasive
So I tried to calm their worries and suggested that they start to wade into the marketing pool. Not jump in with both feet, off of the 20 ft. diving board, but just begin to do a little wading and start giving the customer what he wants.

Take a cosmic example. I know you have probably cut back on what you offer, cut back on some payroll, maybe even cut back or postponed some capital improvements to replace some burned out lights or upgrade some old ones and even tried to charge a little bit more.

But the consumer is no longer stupid. He wants what he wants. And he wants more value otherwise he will go to one of the many other entertainment options that offer a better value and more fun.  

So go back to what brought you to the dance. Get that great MC or DJ. Give away prizes for red head pins trikes, trivia contests dance contests. Give away ITunes gift cards, funny noses, rubber chickens, t shirts, free game passes, $25 gift cards, food vouchers and funny hats.  Maybe even hire a band. Or host an “open mike” night. Or host an acapella group singing Christmas songs for the holidays from a local college. 

If you’re still charging $12 or $15 for cosmic bowling, offering burned out lights, funky sound system and unfriendly “age challenged” person at the desk, is it any wonder these younger people aren't coming back?

‘Cause here’s the deal. The consumer, especially the 18 to 25 yr. old consumer wants to have “More Fun. More Choices. And More Value. ALL THE TIME.”   
So it’s time to wade into the marketing pool. Time to get off the beach and give the new marketing a try.

Here’s one clue.

Emailing and sending out Facebook posts are NOT the panacea you may think it is. Only 1 out of 10 or 12 people even open up your email. And Facebook is a scrolling billboard. Not all your Facebook friends see everything you post all the time.

You need more communication. TV is still the most popular. Why do you think so many network and cable TV shows sell out? Because nobody is watching? Radio sells out in morning drive and pm drive in many markets. Because nobody is listening?

I tell them to stop looking for JUST ONE thing to be their magic elixir, but to understand that it takes many, many pills to get better…and some of those pills aren't always free.
Time to maybe get some help, if you’re stuck.  Maybe a course in digital marketing. Or read some articles. Or go to more seminars.

Time to find out how to develop an integrated marketing campaign that includes old media, new media, digital media and social media. Time to offer a better product at a value centered price.
And then you can do it again, but louder. And larger.
It's easy to be afraid of taking a plunge, because plunging can be dangerous.
And worrying, well, that just keeps you on the beach doing nothing at all. It may be safe, but it isn't going to change anything.
Wading, on the other hand, gets you off the beach. It gives you a chance to begin.
Up. Off the beach. Stick your toes in. Ready, set, go!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Does AMF Bowlmor Know That You Don't?

Last week, at the Eastern States Bowling Convention, I had the privilege of facilitating a session at lunch, entitled “The Next New Thing” in which all luncheon guests were asked to participate in determining what new venues they could put into a 24 lane box.

While there were many ideas, the various groups that were tasked with developing this “24 lane space” chose traditional and expected venues such as laser tag, arcades, tap room, expanded restaurant, sports type bar and other similar items.

Very few proprietors went outside the box to come up with newer ideas even though we “seeded the list” with such items as: laser tag, laser maze, short lanes for kids, arcade, full service restaurant, sports bar, balladium, go kart track,        miniature golf, batting cages, golf machines, hair cutting franchise (sports clips), Laundromat, day care center, build a bear franchise and a tap room selling craft beers.

So does this mean that we as entrepreneurs have become more conservative?  

Yes I think it does and I think it contributes more to our invisibility and being less bold. And being less bold means we don't stand out and therefore we are lost in the mediocrity of all the other vanilla entertainment options.

How else can we explain that, according to Bruce Davis who also conducted a seminar at the ECC, “… 5 years ago, 50% of our customers visited our centers 1 to 3 times? Today, 75% of our customers visit us 1 to 3 times".

All that means is fewer people are NOW coming back less often.     

Have we become routine, banal, unsurprising, mundane and alas less visible. And adding to our “old fashioned image,” we have almost universally rationalized our way to NOT advertise in any media, except digital and maybe, maybe direct mail.

Because if it costs money and we can’t scrutinize it for IMMEDIATE results, we just won't do it. And I almost understand that mindset.  

But then I ask, “why is AMF Bowlmor going to spend $34 million dollars next year on advertising and promotion.  Thats about $9,000 per center next year. 

What do you spend? 

Maybe they know something you don’t.  Or maybe they choose to be bolder than the average bear?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Are You Marketing To The "USTABEE Bowler?

Over the years, at least since 1980 when 10 million league bowlers existed, I think that half the population over the age of 18 has tried league bowling in one form or the other. If 3% leave every year, or thereabouts than over 34 years that’s 102% who have tried league bowling. Obviously a flawed number.

I’ll just cut that in half and assume that half the dropouts were the same person who dropped out of multiple leagues down to one league.  I may be right here or I may be wrong.

That’s not the point.

The point is we have a whole bunch of people who have tried league bowling and for one reason or another decided to ‘drop out” and not bowl with us anymore.
Oh, we know why. There are two sets of reasons.

One set is called “the uncontrollable reasons.” We don’t control them, right?
  • ·        Some moved,
  • ·        Hurt their back,
  • ·        Got pregnant
  • ·        Changed jobs, shifts, got second job
  • ·        My friends quit so I quit too
  • ·        Decided I wanted to spend more time on other activities and had to drop something. So I dropped bowling L
  • ·        Just found it INCONVENIENT to bowl

Then there are the controllable reasons.  “We can control these, right?
  • ·        Didn’t like my team mates
  • ·        34 weeks was more of a commitment than i can make
  • ·        Wasn’t any good at it and wasn’t getting any better
  • ·        Too expensive every week (between bowling, food and beer it cost me $30 each week.)
  • ·        Every week, it was 3 to 4 hours; just don’t have that kind of time anymore
  • ·        Management at center wasn’t very helpful and service was slow and slower
  • ·         Bowling ball got mashed at the center and center did not respond in the way I wanted
  • ·        And of course lane conditions were “inconsistent” and I bowled badly there than there are league bowlers  
Here's a clue, other than moving, changed jobs and have to commute too far and sickness, all these reasons are controllable simply because the consumer made a decision that he or she would rather do nothing or something else than bowl in a league...and that's on us because we didn't make the experience valuable enough, exciting enough, entertaining enough or meaningful enough to that consumer. 

     WHY DIDN'T WE? Answer that question for yourself and your center and you wil be able to get some insights into why you lose bowlers

But back to marketing to dropouts

So again, let’s assume that there are 10 times as many people who once bowled in a league than there are league bowlers.  Do you have a plan to bring them back into the fold?
Retail stores constantly target those people who haven’t shopped with them in the past 30 days, 60 days or 90 days. I would venture to say, that in general, bowling proprietors don’t speak to these people more than once a year, during August…if that.

We all know that it cost umpteen times more to get a new customer than to retain an old customer, yet so few centers have a consolidated dropout plan; other than as an afterthought…”Oh yeah, send the flier to dropouts too! OKAY!!

Here are the six ways to market to league bowlers

First, start speaking to your dropouts more frequently, invite feedback and create a special newsletter just for them. Incidentally, if you don’t know who your dropouts are, got to BPAA website and then visit “Customer Connect.”  You will find all your dropouts there, although I cannot say how far back you can go; perhaps two years.

Second, the content should contain special seasonal offers to open play bowl as well as telling and selling a short season bowling program.

Third, if you can segment your dropout data base, you can then start sending gender and age specific offers (I.e. 25 to 44 yr. old female; send an adult child offer as well as a ladies game day offer and a mixed couples offer).

Fourth, ask questions. Do surveys. Ask what it would take to get them to bowl again.

Fifth, do something daring. Offer them a FREE 8 week program which could morph into a paid 12 week have a ball program. For the 1st part of this program, you’ll get some food and beverage income and maybe some people willing to recruit their friends because they are having so much fun.

Sixth, make sure your website has information about “USTABEE Bowlers.”  Give them a brand and find someone (representing different demographic age groups) to be a brand ambassador and feature that person(s) in the newsletters and the emails you send, using testimonials and photos or you tube videos.  Make them feel like a rock star.  Cater to them.

And bring ‘em back alive.