Thursday, September 24, 2015

What You Can Learn from Volkswagen Today

No doubt, you have heard about the recent crisis at Volkswagen. 

Seems the good folks in Wolfsburg, Germany decided that the emissions standards for their diesel engines weren’t quite right so they fraudulently reported lower emissions and greenhouse gasses than they actually had.

They got caught and the CEO was forced to resign while the largest automobile manufacturer in Europe, VW, with over a 50% market share has just suffered the worst calamity a company can go through; loss of trust in their product. 

No doubt this will have far-reaching consequences for the global automotive industry, as well as impacting the European economy, and perhaps the future of the diesel and or gasoline internal combustion engine that has been around since Karl Benz invented it back in 1897.

And it happened because VW forgot the cardinal rule of 21st-century marketing.

“Marketing is no longer just advertising or PR or promotion or even sophisticated digital marketing.  If you still conflict and are uncertain about present day marketing, please realize marketing is not all communications, whether old school traditional or sophisticated digital media. But rather:

 Marketing IS THE PRODUCT!

Years ago, in the boardroom of the largest family owned bowling center chain worldwide, I said, “Marketing is Everything.." I was greeted by jeers from other department heads who thought I was saying that their “spheres of influence were less relevant than mine.” 

Of course, they misunderstood my words; they were, sadly, too myopic to understand that what I was saying was that “the customer sees our centers through his/her eyes...and the product is the marketing."

From the lanes, to the cleanliness of the bathroom, to the service we provide, to the quality of the food and beverage to the lighting of the parking lot, to the parking lot itself, to signage to the quality of house balls and rental shoes and to many other elements they visually and tactically perceive our quality and the value of their experience.

They do all of this processing, analyzing and concluding what our center, and their experience, is or isn't in less than a second. Yikes!

And no amount or kind of advertising or promotion will overcome a bad product. Ever.  Can't fake it till you make it anymore. (See VW above!)

So the message for today is to make sure that all of the elements of your “product” are your marketing?

Start with a checklist. What are ALL of the elements of your product? Then rate them from 1 to 10 with 1 being BAD AND 10 being EXCELLENT. Then have your employees rate the elements. Now ask your customers.

No doubt, you will get a very precise feel about your product and then you can start to improve, over time, each and every element…almost assuring that your marketing will be successful!





Saturday, September 12, 2015

Whats Possible vs. What's Required

We are required to make up a fall league bowler flier, brochure, advertisement, etc.

We are required to call back league bowlers.

We are required to host a junior registration day.

We are required to do a traffic driver before Labor Day.

We are required to “come up with new league ideas."

But…

What if it were possible to concentrate on getting new league bowlers vis a vis a league bowler recommending a friend to bowl?

What if it were possible to create a promotional program to get people that used to bowl to come back to your center and join a short season program or to sub for an existing team in a specific league?

What if it were possible to develop a traffic driving program that went viral because all proceeds of the weekend were going to (person in need, charity or non-profit organization?)

Sometimes it’s more important to think about the “what if it were possibles” rather than the same old “requirements.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back To School For Us Too



For millions of American school children, September signals a return to the classrooms, a clean slate, a new beginning and the promise of a brighter year.

For many business people, September also signals the sounds of the holidays to come. They know, as do you, that before you turn around, the season will be here.

If you’re a bowling proprietor or the owner /operator of an FEC, you recognize the importance of capitalizing on Halloween Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa holiday weeks, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  Maybe your market celebrates all of these holidays. 
Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Point is you have to get your marketing plans together NOW to be able to implement effective income generating programs.

Here’s just a quick game plan of the steps you need to take

1.     What did you do the last several years, during these holidays?  

2.     Were they successful?

3.     Can you quantify lineage, revenue, average price per game, revenue per game during these promotional periods. What’s that, you don’t have that kind of information? Then base it on open play revenue

4.     Ask your open play bowlers which (ideas you have) programs they might prefer. List your 3 or 4 ideas in a flier format (doesn’t have to be all that pretty) and show them to open play bowler families, kids, Moms, 15 to 34 year olds, HS kids and any college people in your market.

5.     Quantify the data and select the program.
6.     Here is the hard part.
a.     How do you communicate for maximum effectiveness?
b.     How do you reach potential customers and existing non-league customers (No, one or two emails will not bring your embryonic idea to life, Sorry. It takes a campaign).
c.     How much will you spend? (“As little as possible” is not a viable answer. Every other marketer is doing all they can to maximize the season so tell me again how your flier sitting on the desk, or your two Facebook posts will have them waiting at the doors is going to compete with them again?).

7.     How will you train your people for handling and servicing more people?  (What about the part time kid you hired from the local high school? Think he really cares? How will you get him or her motivated to satisfy YOUR customers)?

8.     What will you during the campaign to add some excitement, instant gratification, and just plain fun to the experience?

9.     How will you make sure to try and gather as much new data base names as possible? (Oh Fred, we try, but get so busy. We just don’t have the time!) 

a.     Maybe hire a part time hostess for the weekends, Larry and make sure she is a happy, bubbly type that can get people to complete a data base.
10.  Did you lay down a set of goals up front and are now measuring the results against goal, against expenditure to achieve goal and against last year.

More importantly, please recognize that the myriad ways to communicate has changes. In the past we pushed messages onto consumers. 

Today, consumers have a choice to voluntarily accept it or turn it off.  How will you make sure that your message gets turned on??

If you have any questions on these steps, we will be happy to assist. Just give us a call at           516 359 4874 or email us at fredkaplowitz@gmail.com

And have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Kwanzaa

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Stepping over Dollars to Pick Up Dimes



Recent Facebook posts have depicted many many reflective and spiritual statements and graphics.  Some thanked God for being able to get out of bed this morning. Others were thankful that God let them live this far unto their lives. Still others were just happy to have survived a recent life threatening physical tragedy or emotionally painful event. 

These very same people, no doubt, have businesses, work for companies or teach, lawyer account for and doctor other people. Do  they carry their spirituality to their chosen work lives? 

I would like to think the answer is a resounding “Yes.”  However; I have seen far fewer Facebook posts about the same thankfulness they show for each other than they might show for their business…and thus their customers.

Because when you have a business, it’s about satisfying the customer, exceeding his or her expectations and, if we recognized this more frequently - almost in a spiritual way - we wouldn’t need the thousands of customer service training classes, remedial training and just common sense training that is so pervasive in the business community today. 

Here is a recent example of making it hard to do business.

I was preparing to celebrate my wife’s birthday, a fairly significant number, may I add, and used the “Open Table” on line service.  All went smooth until I decided to call the restaurant. I dialed up the noted establishment and spoke to the maĆ®tre d. I pleasantly asked her if I could bring a cake since my wife’s best friend had been baking birthday cakes for her, lo these many years, for umpteen years and could we continue the tradition.  

She answered, "absolutely…not!"  I was astounded and asked her to reconsider. She then responded that “we sell birthday cakes for $100 or $10 a slice. Since I was expecting a dozen or so people, I was getting annoyed with her attitude and suggested that I might take my business elsewhere if she didn’t deliver some satisfactory answers. 

She simply said, “Fine, should I cancel your reservation?”  “Let me speak to the manager”, I said.” “I am the manager", she said. In one swift movement, I hung up the phone and made a reservation somewhere else where, several days later, we were joyously received and I was able to bring my wife's birthday cake to the celebration.

Now how spiritual was this woman in her business? How much did she really care about her customers? How much did she empathize with me? How much did she put herself in my shoes? How much did she really appreciate the fact that I was willing to be her customer and if I had a good time, I would recommend the establishment to my friends. How much did she care about being spiritual and kind in her business? Not at all.  She blew off a fairly expensive dinner for 12; revenue her establishment would have received over “a silly policy” issue.

If you think this is a rare occasion, fly 100,000 miles a year with me and find out about the "unfriendly skies." Or try to return a product you bought on line, even if it had a 100% money back guarantee.  Good luck finding a phone number or a process to send it back.

These silly policy issues, all too often, put a lot of pressure on front line people to defend the owner's decisions.  Intuitively they know that your policies just, "ain't right."  

Lots of turnover, recently?  Could be a sign that your employees were always playing defense over your unfriendly policies, never getting a chance to do the right thing and deciding to find a better place to earn their wages. Check yourself if you like finding people doing something wrong as opposed to doing something right.

So why do we do these things? Simply because it was marginally better for the owner and not necessarily for the customer. What will happen to their business when loyal customers wake up and realize that, if they can't get from your establishment what they can easily obtain from other establishments, they will eventually choose a competitor's products or services, switch allegiances and never return to your establishment or buy your service again.

Please, please  think about if you are doing anything to make it harder for your customer to buy your product or service.  Try to be your customer for a few days and see what is making them, perhaps, "not like you as much as they used to."  Just look at your sales and see if they have been steadily eroding? Is that a sign of something that you can fix and not "the economy."
 
Nevertheless, I suspect that the manager with whom I spoke to at the first restaurant, in her private life, might very well be a spiritual and generous soul. Let us hope.
And that’s why I am never going to go to Ninos Restaurant at 1354 1st Avenue ( 1st avenue and 72nd street in NYC. 

 Sometimes we step over dollars to pick up dimes.